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<p>Natalie Portman</p>

Natalie Portman

Credit: AP Photo

Natalie Portman and last year's acting winners to present at Oscars

Christian Bale, Colin Firth and Melissa Leo get to re-live Oscar glory

Last year's Oscar-winning performers -- Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale -- are returning to this year's Academy Awards as presenters.

In the lead categories, Firth took home the Oscar for Best Picture winner "The King's Speech," while Portman danced away with the Best Actress trophy for Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan." In the supporting sections, both Bale and Leo won for their work in David O. Russell's acclaimed "The Fighter."

The quartet join such previously announced presenters as Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Lopez, Tina Fey, Penelope Cruz, "The Muppets'" Kermit and Piggy, "Campaign" co-stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, and the cast of "Bridesmaids."

Portman and Bale will co-star in two upcoming films from "Tree of Life" director Terrence Malick. Before that, Bale will reprise his role as Batman in this summer's "The Dark Knight Rises."

Meanwhile, Leo will star alongside Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis' "Flight," and Firth will be seen opposite Cameron Diaz in the art heist comedy "Gambit," written by the Coen Brothers.

The 84th Academy Awards telecast airs live on ABC this Sunday, February 26 at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT.

Think you can predict the winners? Prove it here and win big.

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<p>Rooney Mara in &quot;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.&quot;</p>

Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Actress

Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams square off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

After last year's banner field of nominees, which included five peak-form performances from actresses in a range of risky, stimulating projects, this year's Best Actress category wasn't ever likely to live up to those standards. True enough, it hasn't, though the problem lies less with the ladies nominated than the vehicles surrounding them: "Good performance, shame about the movie," has been the recurring critical chorus around this race.

That's not to say it was a year short of challenging, substantial vehicles for women. But with many of them falling in the less illuminated corners of the arthouse, the Academy inevitably favored the softer, more middlebrow prestige vehicles, few of which had any worthwhile cinematic ambitions beyond showcasing their established stars for maximum vote-grabbiness. (It may or may not mean something to you that this is the category's first all-American lineup in 20 years.) The exception, a relatively untested ingenue in a hard-edged genre piece, is both the only first-time nominee in the field and the only one unapproved by the Screen Actors' Guild.

The nominees are...

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<p>Helen&nbsp;Hunt and Jack&nbsp;Nicholson at the 1998 Academy&nbsp;Awards</p>

Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson at the 1998 Academy Awards

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Women and Oscar

And other things rich white men like

Earlier this week the LA Times unveiled the fruit of 20 researchers’ labor: old, rich, white men dominate the AMPAS. I was as shocked as you are.

I kid. I do. There’s nothing wrong with the article as such, and the structural dynamics of the Academy do bear looking at.

One of the strange, self-devouring aspects of the internet is that it is now common practice for critics to reflect on, riff off, add to or otherwise deconstruct one another’s work. A positive element of the trend is that a conversation develops in our virtual realm. Of course, levels of discourse are, as ever, varied. We’ve not yet weighed in on the matter and I do so now with a grain of salt, and a bit more sass than I had originally intended. Is it earth shattering news? Clearly not. Does it seem to be indicative of an overindulgence of the paper’s resources? Ish.

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<p>Tyler Perry talks about his new film &quot;Good Deeds&quot; and working as just an actor on &quot;I, Alex Cross.&quot;</p>

Tyler Perry talks about his new film "Good Deeds" and working as just an actor on "I, Alex Cross."

Tyler Perry admits he didn't enjoy the long days on 'Alex Cross'

Prolific filmmaker reveals his inspiration for 'Good Deeds'

Tyler Perry is nothing if not prolific. The writer, director, producer and actor has put out 11 films since 2005 and collectively they have grossed over $600 million domestic.  And Friday his 12th film will hit theaters, "Good Deeds."  That will be followed by two more films in 2012: "The Marriage Counselor" (July 27) and "Madea's Witness Protection" (TBD). Whatever your opinion of his films themselves, you have to respect his passion.  With his Atlanta studios, popular touring stage plays and lucrative TBS sitcoms, Perry is incredibly well off and could slow down whenever he'd like. No, whether you like it or not, he's got a lot more to say.

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<p>'YOU&nbsp;CAN'T&nbsp;EMBARGO&nbsp;THE&nbsp;ROCK!' Dwayne Johnson uses Twitter like a blunt instrument and seems to be winning social media in general these days.</p>

'YOU CAN'T EMBARGO THE ROCK!' Dwayne Johnson uses Twitter like a blunt instrument and seems to be winning social media in general these days.

Credit: Dwayne Johnson/Twitter

Dwayne Johnson reportedly in talks to play 'Hercules' for MGM and Ratner

Could this finally be the franchise fit the actor's looking for?

I'm going to post that new "Wrath Of The Titans" trailer in a few, but it's interesting that this would show up on the same day that Variety breaks the news that Dwayne Johnson is going to star in "Big Duh: The Motion Picture."  Wait… sorry… it's "Hercules."  That's what he's starring in. That's what he was genetically created to do, truth be told, so it's good that MGM and Brett Ratner are figuring his deal out.

That's a great break for Ratner, and I think he's going to probably be a good collaborator for Johnson, whose "Team Bring It" attitude travels from set to set with him.  I've seen him work on what must be four or five films in a row now, and he sets a certain energy that everyone else keys in on.  Dwayne Johnson is a major asset to a franchise if the franchise has any juice at all.  He is a big part of what went right with "Fast Five," and he's absolutely at the heart of the "G.I. Joe" reboot. 

Even "Journey 2" gets what little mileage it gets out of him, because he's always working when he's in a scene, always trying to find something to make it work.  He's as dedicated to the little stuff as he is to the big stunt work.  He's an old-fashioned movie star who understands his own image, and he's been very canny so far about how he's played with his iconography.

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<p>The Shins</p>

The Shins

Credit: Annie Beedy

Watch: The Shins drop 'Simple Song' video, confirmed for 'Saturday Night Live'

Jonah Hill back for seconds on 'SNL,' too

What parent wouldn't want their parting sentiment to their children to be "You'll be sorry when I'm dead?"

James Mercer has that kind of vision for his once and future kin in "Simple Song," which sends his "children" -- played partly by his Shins bandmates -- on an adventure through their old house and memories for a little closure on Mercer's last will and testament. Entertainingly macabre.

The Shins are releasing their next album "Port of Morrow" on March 20, and in promoting it, they've been invited back to "Saturday Night Live" for a second time. They'll be joined by Jonah Hill -- for his second time on the show, too -- on March 10.

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<p>Johnny Depp and Vincent Price in "Edward Scissorhands"</p>

Johnny Depp and Vincent Price in "Edward Scissorhands"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Oscar's big miss: 'Edward Scissorhands'

A look at one of the Academy's most glaring snubs

Who doesn’t love watching a great fairy tale on screen? But how often do new ones arise that make us think “Wow, that’s something new,” while also being deep, funny, engaging and gorgeous to watch?

1990’s “Edward Scissorhands” manages to do all these things. While it landed only one Oscar nomination (for Best Makeup), it manages to show the very best of filmmaking in innumerable ways and ranks among my favorite films of all-time.

First, we have the story, already alluded to. Capturing the themes of loneliness, innocence, growing up, family, self-doubt, doomed romance and the ironies of life, Tim Burton’s story hits on multiple human themes to which we all relate. It also managed to do this within heavy genre. Fairy tales have never been Oscar’s cup of tea, but they make for a great narrative. Of course, they have also been done to death, so coming up with a story that is old-fashioned yet completely modern and remarkably original while true to the genre is a feat that deserves special recognition.

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<p>Kylie Minogue</p>

Kylie Minogue

Credit: AP Photo

Kylie Minogue promises 'something different' on new album

As she continues her 25th anniversary celebration, she looks to 2013

As Kylie Minogue continues to enjoy celebrating her 25th anniversary year (yes, it’s been a quarter of a century since the Aussie icon released “Locomotion), she’s already looking ahead to her next album. And she promises it will be “something different.”

{13300278166710} Poised to come out in 2013, the next album will be her first since 2010’s “Aphrodite.”  She plans to work with a number of producers, Minogue told Metro at a K25 party at London’s Abbey Road Studios. “I have started on the new music already,” she said. On recording at the vaunted studio, she said, “I thought, ‘How much difference can a studio make?’ but it is a beautiful studio. The sound is just gorgeous—you know you are on hallowed ground.”

So far she’s keeping the producers’ names under wraps.

Up next for Minogue?  She heads to Sydney to continue the celebrations with a concert.

 

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<p>The-Dream</p>

The-Dream

Watch: The-Dream surrounds himself with lovely ladies in 'Roc' video

Plus, he preps for a club tour and talks Rihanna/Chris Brown remix

It’s a credit to the The-Dream’s sweetly smooth vocals that he can deliver lines like “Good loving, the grinding, the bumping, oh yeah, make that bed shake, that next day body ache.... I’m going to get behind it and I’m gonna make that thing shake,” as if he’s the reading Shakespearean sonnets.

There’s lots of little, not-so-subtle clues that this is about sex, if we haven’t gotten the hint that “roc” is a substitute for another one-syllable word— like white icing being spread on a girl’s face;  another lovely lady carries around a tray of cherry tomatoes and pops some in her mouth.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Can &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;&nbsp;hold off &quot;Hugo&quot;&nbsp;in the one category it seemed promised at the start of the season?</p>

Can "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" hold off "Hugo" in the one category it seemed promised at the start of the season?

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Tech Support: Final predictions and analysis for 2011, from 'Hugo' to...'Hugo'

Will Martin Scorsese's film dominate the craft categories?

I’m scared. Why, you may ask? First, I’m wondering where on earth this year went. It seems like yesterday when Tech Support was beginning the 2011-2012 season. Next week’s wrap-up column will be the last of the season as the Oscars are given out Sunday night!

Second, however, I am scared because I am truly not confident in my predictions in the crafts categories this year. Only four – Art Direction, Makeup and the music categories – have me certain. Beyond that, things are quite open. I fear I may embarrass myself. That said, this does make things more exciting than is the case in the “major” categories!

So now, on to a final analysis!

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Watch: Pretty Lights and LeAnn Rimes learn lessons on 'Re:Generation'

Watch: Pretty Lights and LeAnn Rimes learn lessons on 'Re:Generation'

DJ works with Ralph Stanley and lives to tell the tale

Pretty Lights, aka Derek Smith, has his hands full with country legend Dr. Ralph Stanley in “Re:Generation.” The documentary, which plays in theaters for one day only, Feb. 23, before finding its TV home, pairs current DJs, such as Mark Ronson, Skrillex and Smith with artists in different genres. They then create an entirely new recording from the ground up.

Smith comes the farthest in the film musically: when he first finds out that he will be working in the country genre, he can’t disguise his contempt for the music, even though he barely knows anything about it. By the end, he’s found much to admire.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Jim O'Heir as Gary &quot;Jerry&quot;&nbsp;Gergich on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Jim O'Heir as Gary "Jerry" Gergich on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

HitFix First Look: 'Parks and Recreation' presents the best and (mostly) worst of Jerry

The parks department's whipping boy keeps going and going and going

Outside of some of the kids from "The Wire," I can think of few characters in primetime in recent years who have suffered as consistently and profoundly as Jerry Gergich on "Parks and Recreation." For starters, "Jerry" isn't even really his name (it's Gary), but no one cared enough to learn it properly. Nothing he does is good enough for his co-workers, and no one quite appreciates his many awesome traits, including a healthy and loving marriage, a fine artistic talent, and, as the doctor in the clip below explains, a tremendous anatomical gift.

Tonight's episode celebrates Jerry's 16th birthday — sort of. As Leslie explains early in tonight's episode, "Sweet Sixteen," Jerry was born on Leap Day, so his birthday technically only falls every 4 years. (This also makes Jerry significantly older than actor Jim O'Heir, but he's a good sport about so much, so why not this?) So to celebrate this milestone birthday, NBC has put together another one of its "Parks and Rec" character highlight reels, which is exclusive to HitFix for the next few hours.

Enjoy the malapropisms, the stumbles, the pants splitting, and all the other misfortunes that befall poor Gary/Jerry over and over and over again, and my "Sweet Sixteen" review will be up at 9 Eastern.

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