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<p>Megan Fox and Leslie Mann in &quot;This is 40&quot;</p>

Megan Fox and Leslie Mann in "This is 40"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'This is 40'

Judd Apatow's latest hits theaters this weekend

I've been a little dismayed at the critical reaction to Judd Apatow's "This is 40" (one of Drew McWeeny's top 10 films of the year.) It feels like some had the knives out. I'm not a worshiper of the man's work or anything but his latest is, to me, his richest film to date. Perhaps it's about relating to it or not, I don't know. In any case, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so cut loose with your take in the comments section below when/if you get around to seeing the film. And feel free to rate it above.

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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: Isaac Brekken/AP

Taylor Swift's 'Red' will celebrate Christmas at No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Singer's album will easily command the top spot next week

Taylor Swift’s “Red” will go into the Christmas holiday with a sure lead for the top spot on the Billboard 200 next week.

The album returned to the No. 1 spot last week for the first time since its October release and stayed there this week, despite a charge by Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox.”

However, it looks like there’s no doubt that Swift will remain at No. 1 next week, as “Red” is tracking to sell up to 295,000 copies. That tally gives it more than a 100,000-edge over its nearest competitors. As of Friday,  One Direction’s “Take Me Home,” Mars’ “Jukebox” and “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head,” the new album from T.I., are all too close to call for the No. 2-4 spots. They are all projected to sell between 150,000 and 175,000 copies.

The picture is a little clearer when we get to No. 5, which looks like it will be Michael Buble’s “Christmas” album, with holiday sales of  up to 160,000 copies.  That album is closely followed by Rod Stewart’s holiday smash, “Merry Christmas Baby,” which will sell up to 135,000 units, according to Hits Daily Double.

A compilation of tunes from “12/12/12: The Concert For Sandy Relief” will bow at No. 7, with up to 110,000 copies. The iTunes-only set features performances from such artists as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and The Who. Not included on the tribute? Kanye West. Billboard tried to get to the bottom of why he is not on the tribute, but everyone they talked to declined comment. A source speculated that it was West’s decision not to be on the collection, although the magazine also posits that the fact that his contribution was 13-minute medley that couldn’t be broken up may have also contributed to the decision.

Rounding out the Top 10 are likely to be Phillip Phillips’ “World From The SIde Of the Moon”  at No. 8, Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” at No. 9 and Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” at No. 10.


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"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

"Donald, can you see me? Can you feel me near you?"

Credit: FOX

'Fringe' Recap - 'Anomaly XB-6783746'

The show says goodbye to one character and hello, improbably, to another.

One thing that’s arisen in this final season of “Fringe” as a topic of debate is just how much needs to actually unfold onscreen to engage audiences on either a practical or emotional level. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach here, like anything else in a creative sphere. Through both conscious choice and external limitations, the show has skipped over large chunks of its overall storyline in order to get to its finish line. And the closer we get, the more than those gaps seem to be accentuated. “Anomaly XB-6783746” was an episode that nearly ground the season’s momentum to a halt only to kick things into major overdrive in the final moments. (I may need to adjust my neck from the whiplash, and not because it allows more sound waves to enter my ears.) To those still buying what the show is selling, filling in those gaps tonight might have been thrilling. To those less engaged with the show, filling them in might have been frustrating.

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<p>Sounds like the full &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother&quot;&nbsp;cast will be back for another season.</p>

Sounds like the full "How I Met Your Mother" cast will be back for another season.

Credit: CBS

Report: 'How I Met Your Mother' to run forever and ever and ever

Jason Segel has apparently agreed to a ninth season; will we ever meet the Mother?

"How I Met Your Mother" is reportedly coming back for a ninth season — and if the show's creators take their title literally, we may have another year and a half, minimum, before Ted Mosby gets a look at his future wife.

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<p>Gary Oldman in &quot;Tinker,&nbsp;Tailor, Soldier, Spy&quot;</p>

Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker, Tailor' dominates biennial International Online Film Critics' Poll

Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman win top acting honors

Here's something novel. A biennial awards presentation. The eligibility period for the International Online Film Critics' Poll is November 16, 2010 to November 15, 2012, leaving a wide array of films to choose from. Pity, then, that the critics' choices aren't themselves as varied. Tomas Alfredson's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" won five awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Check out the full list below (and the previously announce nominees at the poll's website). And of course, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>Surprise!&nbsp;We're still here!!!</p>

Surprise! We're still here!!!

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Dublin critics award Haneke, Phoenix, Riva and...'The Artist?'

Gareth Evans spotlighted for breakthrough work with 'The Raid: Redemption'

If you thought we had escaped the year of "The Artist," you were wrong. The Dublin Film Critics Circle has chosen Michel Hazanavicius's Best Picture winner as the year's best film, as it opened on those shores in 2012. It joins Michael Haneke, Joaquin Phoenix, Emmanuelle Riva and more for top honors this year. Check out the full list below (with curious ties throughout), and as always, keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>A&nbsp;zombie from &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

A zombie from "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

AMC renews 'The Walking Dead,' but showrunner Glen Mazzara departs

Second producer switch in two seasons comes over creative differences

AMC has renewed "The Walking Dead" for a fourth season, but the zombie drama will once again be making a change at showrunner, as Glen Mazzara will be leaving the series after post-production work concludes on season 3.

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<p>Alexandre Desplat</p>

Alexandre Desplat

Credit: AP Photo

Alexandre Desplat on working with Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck

Golden Globe-nominated composer and 'believing' in 'Rise of the Guardians'

At a recent reception for Alexandre Desplat at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel  to promote his “Rise Of The Guardian’s” score, the composer jokingly offered to validate my parking ticket. “Anything to get the gig,” he laughed. “I’m actually playing piano tonight in the ballroom.”

Even without supplying such additional services, the prolific Desplat is Incredibly in demand for his agile flair and ability to score virtually any genre. This year alone, he wrote music for an wide array of films, including “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Rust and Bone” and the aforementioned “Rise Of The Guardians.” 

His past scores include “The King’s Speech,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Queen,” “The Tree of Life,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Parts 1 and 2.”

Desplat received his sixth Golden Globe nomination earlier this month for “Argo”; the work won the Satellite Award for best original score on Dec. 16.

At the DreamWorks Animation reception, I grabbed a few minutes with Desplat to talk about some of his work this year. We didn’t have time to cover “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Rust & Bone,” as he was also running the valet operation that night and needed to fetch Jeffrey Katzenberg his car. (Just kidding on that last part).

  Desplat wrote a staggering 82 minutes of music for the film, ranging from action themes to lullabies. He started with “Believe,” an enchanting piece inspired by a pivotal, emotional scene late in the picture. The movie centers around the “guardians” of our childhood, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman, who protect children against dark forces, as long as the children still believe the icons are real.

“I just felt that the center of the film was about that dream and the belief and I should maybe start there, not start right away with the action,” he says. Desplat played the theme for director Peter Ramsey, who loved it, and its melody became an anchor.  “It started as the theme and then it became the thread which brings us all along the film until the song at the end.” Along with the movie’s screenwriter, David Lindsay-Abaire, Desplat wrote “Still Dream,” the end-title theme performed by Renee Fleming.’’

“Guardians” also features galloping action themes that I suggested to Desplat seemed to pay tribute to one of his heroes, John Williams. “You’re partly right, partly wrong,” he said. ‘I’m not paying homage. He’s just become part of our collective unconscious. John Williams’ music in the last 40 years has rejuvenated the style.” 

Desplat added that as much as he listened to such pioneering composers as Franz Waxman and Bernard Herrmann,  “[Jerry] Goldsmith and Williams were the famous composers when I as a teenager,” he says. “So alive and still very active and creating these incredible soundtracks, so I’m sure that had an impact on me. When you see a superhero flying, of course you think of ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman.’”

His sweeping, imaginative score also hits a number of whimsical beats, similar to Carl Stalling’s work.  “The movie is very funny and very witty,” he says “I’d been watching Tex Avery a lot when I was young,” he says, bringing up not just Carl Stalling, but also Scott Bradley. “There’s a fun and a joy, like Spike Jones also used to have...This kind of crazy fantasy. When I wrote this score, I couldn’t not think about that and the need to write my love for this kind of music.”

“ARGO”: The Ben Affleck-directed drama reunited Desplat with one of the movie’s producers George Clooney, with whom he’d worked on “The Ides of March.”  For the film, which covers the 1979 Iranian Hostage crisis, Desplat deliberately stayed away from channeling the music of that era in his score since the film already incorporated so many of the fashions and other styles of that time.

“There was so much of that on screen that if I started doing the Wah-wah pedal and the ‘Shaft thing,’ it would have been too much,” he says. “My goal was to bring emotion and suspense and tension and make sure that you got the danger surrounding the hostages. That was my job. [Affleck and I] agreed very early also to bring some Middle Eastern flavor in front of you, which was also a foreign sound because at the time, world music was not that prominent.” 

: Desplat’s music for the story about the hunt and eventual capture of Osama Bin Laden  is kept to the bare minimum. Given the almost documentary feel of the picture and the inherent drama of the story,  director Kathryn Bigelow and Desplat wanted to avoid any hint of cliche.

“There was no way I should play the suspense,” Desplat says he and the director agreed. “We always kept repeating to each other, ‘’No score, no score..’ There should be music that should be another current to the film— always appearing—disappearing, without notice. It’s got to be like not painting on the canvas, but in the canvas itself.”

Desplat, who scored the film in three weeks,  wanted to create a musical palate that reflected the culture and the history of the region and of the conflict between the warring factions. “It’s it’s the story of two civilizations, two religions, two tribes trying to kill each other.  One attacked the other, there’s always one that starts the war and then the other strikes back and then it becomes ugly, and awful and disgusting and disturbing,” he said. “It’s not nice to see somebody being tortured even if he’s a bad guy. It’s monstrous and ugly.”

 Desplat had nothing but praise for the Oscar-winning director, calling Bigelow’s movie “a masterpiece...The  way she chose to have Jessica Chastain play a role and not some action woman. This tiny woman, so beautiful, such transparent skin, to play the girl who’s the most fierce and cunning of the whole bunch,” he says. “And she’s the one who really wants to kill or catch Bin Laden. Kathryn’s point of view is just amazing and I don’t know how many artists and directors would have had that strong point of view for the subject.”

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Credit: AP Photo

Ke$ha clarifies 'Die Young' remarks one more time

Singer believes in the song's message, despite the word choice

  Ke$ha continues to try to clarify her feelings about the lyrics for “Die Young,” her first single off “Warrior,” which was yanked from many radio stations following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last week in Newtown, Conn.

Earlier this week, she tweeted that she was “forced”  to sing the lyrics. That tweet was quickly deleted.

She has now  attempted to further explain by issuing the following statement on her website: “After such a tragic event I was feeling a lot of emotion and sadness when I said I was forced to sing some of the lyrics to ‘Die Young.’ Forced is not the right word. I did have some concerns about the phrase “die young” in the chorus when we were writing the lyrics especially because so many of my fans are young and that’s one reason why I wrote so many versions of this song. But the point of the song is the importance of living every day to the fullest and staying young at heart, and these are things I truly believe.”

Note that she never says whether she voiced her “concerns” about the phrase ‘die young’ when she was recording them or just kept them to herself. Now that the song has come under increased scrutiny, she seems to be scrambling to disassociate herself with the lyrics. If she felt that strongly about it, maybe she should have spoken up a little more vociferously at the time. Let’s face it, Ke$ha hardly seems to be the type artist who has trouble expressing her opinions. Plus, she is listed as one of the song's co-writers (along with Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Cirkut and Natt Ruess), so we're not sure how she was "forced" to sing lyrics she may have written herself.

Regardless, it’s one of those strange, sad cases where a song/artist gets pulled into a situation that really has nothing to do with the song at all. Maybe now that she’s made nice to Dr. Luke, who signed her,  and anyone else she may have offended, we can put the focus back on where it should be.


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Oscar Talk: Ep. 100 -- Looking back, from 'Hurt Locker' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Oscar Talk: Ep. 100 -- Looking back, from 'Hurt Locker' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Also: Best Animated Feature and is it worth it to report on 'whisper campaigns?'

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

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<p>Wes Anderson on the set of &quot;Moonrise Kingdom&quot;</p>

Wes Anderson on the set of "Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: Focus Features

Utah critics award 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Wes Anderson

Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence tie for Best Actress

The Utah Film Critics Association has announced its 2012 winners, and, big surprise, "Zero Dark Thirty" took top honors. But the group went in a couple of different directions elsewhere, tapping Dwight Henry for Best Supporting Actor, Wes Anderson for Best Director and "Indie Game: The Movie" for best doc. Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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"The Intouchables"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Nine foreign language finalists announced by Academy

Which five will make the cut?

The Academy has announced the nine finalists for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Seventy-one films were submitted from countries around the world.

High-profile snubs include "Barbara" from Germany, "Lore" from Australia, "Fill the Void" from Israel, "After Lucia" from Mexico and "Blancanieves" from Spain.

Check out the full list of finalists below. Guy will circle back later today with commentary on the list.

The nominees will be announced on January 10, 2013.

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