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<p>Phil Keoghan of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Phil Keoghan of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 21 Finale - 'Take Down That Million'

Which team made it to Phil first and won the big prize?
There's something to be said for dominance.
The 20th installment of "The Amazing Race," which aired last spring, culminated in bickering married couple Rachel & Dave winning the million dollars and finishing first in an astounding eight of 12 competitive Legs on the Race.
They were the New York Yankees of "The Amazing Race." They dominated from start to finish and there was almost no suspense. In fact, they were such an obscenely strong team that they screwed up the final task of the season, ran through the finish line, were corrected, went back and completed the task and ran through the finish line a second time, as if to mock the other teams. 
You looked back on Season 20 of "The Amazing Race" and you said, "Well duh. No other team possibly could have won and it was really cute that Rachel & Dave let the other teams travel with them around the world."
But the Yankees don't win the World Series every year, no matter how high their payroll happens to be.
Some years, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals or the 1987 Minnesota Twins win the World Series. Sometimes, a team does exactly enough to make the playoffs and then exactly enough to win a series or two and then, on the biggest available stage, that team does exactly enough to come out on top. If you look at the 2006 baseball season, the Cardinals were only the best team in baseball on October 27, but that was the last day of the season, so that's the only day that counts. 
There probably wasn't a New York Yankees for the 21st installment of "The Amazing Race." Abbie & Ryan thought they were going to be, but multiple travel gaffes in Germany sent them packing. Several teams won a couple Legs. One team won three Legs. But if you want to talk about the importance of finishing strong, the teams in this season's "Amazing Race" Top 3 finished 10th, 9th and 7th in the season-opening Leg. So maybe the final results on Sunday (December 9) night were appropriate. If no team was going to be able to win "The Amazing Race" and claim unquestioned supremacy, maybe this was exactly the correct result for this season.
More after the break...
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<p>Best Supporting Actress BIFA winner&nbsp;Olivia Colmasn in &quot;Hyde Park on Hudson.&quot;</p>

Best Supporting Actress BIFA winner Olivia Colmasn in "Hyde Park on Hudson."

Credit: Focus Features

'Broken,' 'Berberian Sound Studio' win big at British Independent Film Awards

Acting wins for Olivia Colman and Andrea Riseborough, 'Best Exotic' shut out

The British Independent Film Awards are known for surprises, and true to form, they sprung a last-minute one at tonight's ceremony. As I'd anticipated, Peter Strickland's critically beloved horror homage "Berberian Sound Studio" enjoyed a great haul, taking Best Director, Best Actor for Toby Jones and two extra prizes for production and technical achievement. But just as it seemed set to take the night, they swung left, handing the top prize to "Broken," the debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris -- an unexpected choice both because it received mixed reviews upon its Cannes premiere, and won't  be released until the spring in the UK. The film won in only one other category, for Best Supporting Actor.

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<p>Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;The Master,&quot;&nbsp;an obvious favorite with the LAFCA</p>

Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master," an obvious favorite with the LAFCA

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Amour,' 'The Master' win big with Los Angeles Film Critics Association

'Zero Dark Thirty' finally hits the brakes

Over a week after their colleagues on the east coast went in big for Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," the Los Angeles Film Critics Association put the brakes on Kathryn Bigelow's film, which has been dominating the circuit. It even won two Best Picture prizes today, but one of them was not LAFCA's crown. Instead, the LA critics went with Michael Haneke's "Amour," and as a runner-up, a film clearly beloved by the group that won four other prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary.

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Anne Hathaway reasserted herself in the Best Supporting Actress competition despite heat from Sally Field.
Anne Hathaway reasserted herself in the Best Supporting Actress competition despite heat from Sally Field.
Credit: Universal Pictures

'Zero Dark Thirty' tops New York Film Critics Online winners

Are we sensing a pattern here?

Just minutes after the Boston Society of Film Critics crowned "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film, the New York Film Critics Online went and did the very same thing. They also spotlighted Kathryn Bigelow in the Best Director category (as well as Mark Boal's screenplay), and, like Boston, went with Daniel Day-Lewis and Emmanuelle Riva in the lead acting categories.

Check out the full list of NYFCO winners below with running commentary.

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Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" kept showing as a runner-up but only won one prize, alas.
Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" kept showing as a runner-up but only won one prize, alas.
Credit: Focus Features

'Zero Dark Thirty' wins Best Picture and Best Director from the Boston Society of Film Critics

Another feather in Kathryn Bigelow's cap

The Boston Society of Film Critics has joined the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review in crowning "Zero Dark Thirty" the year's best film. Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director while Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") and Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") won top acting honors. The group clearly liked "Moonrise Kingdom," which won Best Use of Music and went on to pop up in a number of runner-up spots.

Check out the full list of winners below with running commentary on the winners.

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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Credit: Charles Sykes/AP

Music Power Rankings: Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Justin Bieber

Tamar Braxton also makes the cut, thanks to Lady Gaga

1. The Grammy nominations: While there is no sure frontrunner like Adele was last year, Dec. 5’s nominations showed a wide breadth of potential mega winners on Feb. 10 as Mumford & Sons, Kanye West, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, fun., Jay-Z and Frank Ocean all receive six nominations.

2. Alicia Keys: She is truly a “Girl On Fire,” as her album’s No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 this week ties her for the most consecutive No. 1 albums by solo artists.  She joins DMX, R. Kelly, Kanye West and Luther Vandross.

3. DMX: Speaking of DMX, the rapper delivers an impromptu version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” during a radio station visit and instantly creates a new classic. What?

4. Rihanna:
Her domination of the pop charts isn’t enough: now the star has set her sights on TV: She will appear in “Styled To Rock,” a new Style Network series featuring 12 designers handpicked by Ri-Ri. Move over “Project Runway.”

5. Tamar Braxton:
The power of Lady Gaga is undeniable. She tweets about “Love & War,” Braxton’s new single (yes, Tamar, not Toni) and the single goes straight to No. 1 on iTunes. It’s no coincidence, however: Braxton is married to Vincent Herbert, the music exec who signed a 20-year old Lady Gaga.

6. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta: T
he pair’s stultifyingly so-bad-it’s-good video for Christmas-themed “I Think You Might Like It” shows why you can really never go back home again.  Rizzo was smart enough to stay away.

7. Justin Bieber:
The teen heart throb gets the wrong kind of attention after his manager tells the Grammys they “blew it” by not nominating Bieber. Man up: You don’t see Lionel Richie crying that he didn’t get nominated for “Tuskegee,”  and he sold more than Bieber.

8. Metallica: The band streams its full back catalog on Spotify, ending any lingering rift between Napster’s co-founder/Spotify investor Sean Parker, whom the band sued in 2000. The true winner? Metallica fans.

9. Superstorm Sandy Benefit:
The Rolling Stones are the latest superstars  added to 12/12/12’s Madison Square Garden benefit, joining Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Bon Jovi, The Who, Kanye West, and several more. You don’t have to wait for the show to donate to the Robin Hood Foundation, which will disperse the funds to communities still reeling from the storm’s devastation. Go here.

10. Led Zeppelin: The world’s greatest rock band puts on tuxes and cleans up real nice as President Obama shows them a whole lotta love at the Kennedy Center Honors.


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<p>Robert De Niro poses on the red carpet before receiving the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Santa Barbara, CA Saturday night.</p>

Robert De Niro poses on the red carpet before receiving the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Santa Barbara, CA Saturday night.

Credit: AP Photo/Richard Shotwell

Robert De Niro turns the spotlight back on Kirk Douglas at Santa Barbara salute

96-year-old legend receives an original manuscript of 'Raging Bull' from De Niro and Scorsese

SANTA BARBARA - The Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented the 7th Annual Kirk Douglas Award for Film Excellence Saturday night to Robert De Niro.  Douglas, who turned a spry 96-years-old on Sunday, was on hand as were De Niro's "Silver Lining Playbook" cohorts Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell.  Previous honorees include Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Quentin Tarantino, Ed Harris, John Travolta and Kirk Douglas himself.

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Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx.

Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx.

Credit: SNL

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' – Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo

The "Django Unchained" star graces the "SNL" stage.

After a three-week break, “Saturday Night Live” is back with host Jamie Foxx. He’s here promoting his upcoming film “Django Unchained,” which pretty much makes me what to refer to him as “Djamie” throughout tonight’s recap. (In both cases, the “D” is silent.) Foxx initially shot to stardom through small-screen sketch comedy “In Living Color”, so it will hopefully be fun to see him in Studio 8H tonight. Along for the ride will be musical guest Ne-Yo, who has been all over television this week. He appeared on both “The Voice” as well as CBS’s Grammys Nomination special, so I’m super stoked to hear the “Let Me Love You” trifecta tonight.

I know better than to have high or low hopes based on host alone at this point. So let’s let the episode unfold and see what happens. As always, I’ll be recapping each sketch in order as they unfold. As always, you will read those grades, shake your fist to the heavens, and then attempt to place an objective grade upon a subjective medium. It’s all I want for Christmas, really. (Well, that and for you to subscribe to my weekly “SNL” podcast that I host every week with The Huffington Post’s Mike Ryan. I’d like that as well, please.)
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<p>This can't end well.</p>

This can't end well.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise fights humans and aliens alike in the first trailer for science-fiction epic 'Oblivion'

Looks like Will Smith's got some 'After Earth' competition next year

I may not have cared much for "TRON: Legacy," but my problems were primarily with the script.  Joseph Kosinski's work as a director was meticulous and often quite beautiful, and I walked away curious to see what he could do with a different (and better) screenplay.

Maybe "Oblivion" is that screenplay.  I certainly hope so after seeing the first trailer for the film.  I always root for big-budget original science fiction, and I would love for this to be a smart action film that uses its impressive backdrop as a way to tell a story that really means something, a film that is more than just empty calories.  The reason I fell in love with science-fiction in the first place is because of the way it can tell universal stories about who we are and where we're going and how we relate to each other and the world around us, but one step removed, which often makes even the most difficult message more palatable.  It helps that two of the credited writers on the film are Michael Arndt, who is of course currently hard at work on "Star Wars: Episode VII," and Oscar-winner William Monahan.  Not too shabby.

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"The Voice"

 "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Reality TV Roundup: 'Project Runway' goes green, 'Survivor' gets muddy and more

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch any competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

It's the eco challenge, which results in some pretty awful "Project Runay" stuff. This shouldn't have been that hard, designers! Next week, you have to make something with Christmas decorations! Man up!
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"Downton Abbey"

 "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

The stars of 'Downton Abbey' talk season 4, sex and cardigans

Rob James-Collier, Hugh Bonneville and Joanne Froggatt hint at what's next

In the United States, fans of "Downton Abbey" must comfort themselves with, say, proper afternoon tea and the knowledge that season three of the show will begin airing Jan. 6. The bad news? Lucky Brits are already well into the season, and spoilers are already trickling onto the web to taunt us. But on Friday, "Downton" stars Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham), Rob James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Smith) and Leslie Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) were joined by the show's executive producer Gareth Neame and "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton for a excerpt screening and Q&A for fans and journalists in Los Angeles. As restrained as the show can sometimes be, the stars were as modern -- and often funny -- as their characters are not.

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<p>Oscar-shortlisted documentary &quot;The Imposter&quot; is among the leading nominees for the British Independent Film Awards.</p>

Oscar-shortlisted documentary "The Imposter" is among the leading nominees for the British Independent Film Awards.

Credit: Indomina Releasing

Previewing the British Independent Film Awards

What will win, and what should, at tomorrow's ceremony

While the US precursor circuit is getting into the swing of things, tomorrow marks the first major date of the British awards calendar: the British Independent Film Awards. Ostensibly the UK's answer to the Independent Spirit Awards (though they don't define "independence" by quite the same criteria), it's a ceremony that has grown in prominence in recent years, representing a larger sample of the local film industry than the slavishly Oscar-minded BAFTA Awards. That said, the BIFAs have given nascent awards juggernauts like "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire" their first big trophy hauls of the season.

Nobody will be looking the BIFAs for any Oscar cues this year. After last year's awards reflected a banner year for British film -- "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Shame," "Tyrannosaur," "Weekend" and "Senna" -- were among the big winners, this year's lineup of nominees, while studded with high-level work, doesn't boast quite the same lustre.

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