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<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo and Jean Dujardin on the set of &quot;The Artist&quot;</p>

Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin on the set of "The Artist"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: We won't get another hero

Oscar season heads into the home stretch with no real surprises in sight

Ballots are due tomorrow. The great settling has occurred. And now is the time of year when people bored with the proceedings scratch and claw for an alternative.

There isn't one. Despite a grand showing for "The Descendants" in the final stretch, it's not the one to pull the carpet out from under "The Artist." Despite "The Help" having a considerable amount of support throughout the Academy, it's not the one. And somehow, "Hugo" isn't the one, either, despite considerable spending in phase two (though the two nomination leaders spent quite a bit separately). There is no savior.

In a column today, Sasha Stone tries to make the case that more time would have mattered. It wouldn't have. If anything, a number of members are still (believe it or not) DISCOVERING "The Artist." When Stone writes that "no one seems to want 'The Artist' to win,'" she is, I think, responding to the echo-chamber that is movie punditry.

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<p>Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards</p>

Bruce Springsteen at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Bruce Springsteen debuting new song a day, starting with 'Easy Money'

'Wrecking Ball' getting a premiere, track by track

Bruce Springsteen will let fans hear his new album in its entirety prior to release, with one new track debuting a day now until March 6, when the "Wrecking Ball" drops.

Today starts this sequenced chain of daily events, with "Easy Money" over on Backstreets.com. Rolling Stone gets dibs on "Shackled and Drawn" tomorrow. An incomplete schedule is below and, lest you forget, album opener "We Take Care of Our Own" has already manifested in stream and music video form.

"Easy Money" is an Americana-tinged stomper, swimming in choral and gang vocals, driven by a stomp-and-clap rhythm section and laced with fiddles. It's actually pretty, well, easy.

Here are the Boss' current tour dates, starting on March 18.

    •    Today: "Easy Money" on Backstreets.com
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 21: "Shackled and Drawn" at Rollingstone.com
    •    Wednesday, Feb 22: "Jack of All Trades"
    •    Thursday, Feb. 23: "Death to My Hometown"
    •    Friday, Feb. 24: "This Depression"
    •    Monday, Feb. 27: "Wrecking Ball"
    •    Tuesday, Feb. 28: "You've Got It"
    •    Wednesday, Feb. 29: "Rocky Ground"
    •    Thursday, March 1: "Land of Hope and Dreams"
    •    Friday, March 2: "We Are Alive"
 

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<p>Blur</p>

Blur

Listen: Blur performs new song 'Under the West Way' live

More news that another album's on the way: We told you so

Blur made a charity concert appearance this weekend, but ended up giving even more to fans all over the world.

In a video clip posted from the War Child benefit show at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, Graham Coxon and Damon Albarn are seen performing a brand new song, titled "Under the West Way," with the former on acoustic guitar and the latter on piano. The slow-burner is a little theatric though instrumentally understated. And it is very, very Blur.

And do your best to ignore the show-goer who is practicing his whistle: wrong time, dude.

The band may play "West Way" or maybe even more new material tomorrow night (Feb. 21) during the Brit Awards. The last recording they dropped was in 2010, for Record Store Day, but their last album was 2003's "Think Tank." And, as previously reported, Coxon said that there is definitely another Blur album in the works, on the heels of their 2009 live reunion.

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<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman in&nbsp;&quot;Moneyball&quot;</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Moneyball"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Film Editing

'The Artist,' 'The Descendants,' 'Dragon Tatto,' 'Hugo' and 'Moneyball' 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.

Of all the crafts categories, Best Film Editing always tends to parallel the Best Picture race the most, both in the nominations stage and again during the race for the win. This year’s final five fit squarely into that paradigm, with the top three Best Picture contenders being joined by another film that was almost certainly in the top six and one semi-prestigious genre film that likely wasn’t far from the Best Picture lineup. Despite the surprising omission of one of the most nominated editors of all-time, Michael Kahn (who managed to score an ACE citation for “War Horse”), the nominees were utterly predictable.

But while I was quite confident in my predictions for the nominations (at least about the six from which the five would be chosen), that confidence does not extend to this final stage of the game. No title can be safely ruled out in my opinion.

The nominees are…

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<p>Ernest Borgnine, for many the poster boy for the Academy membership.</p>

Ernest Borgnine, for many the poster boy for the Academy membership.

Credit: Screen Actors Guild

Round-up: A dry, old, white guy season

Also: The costumes of 'W.E.,' and making excuses for 'Cars 2'

The big topic of Oscar conversation over the weekend wasn't exactly a newsflash: anyone who didn't previously know that the Academy membership is dominated by older white men is presumably still reeling from the shock of "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" not receiving a Best Picture nomination. Even so, the stats revealed in the LA Times's investigation into the AMPAS makeup are pretty stunning: sadly, I'm perhaps less surprised that voters are 94% white than I am by the knowledge that they're 77% male. Add in the fact that only 2% of them are under the age of 40, and you wonder why anyone even entertained the possibility of "Bridesmaids" cracking the top category. Members from Alexander Payne to Alfre Woodard (who's a "Shame" fan, as it happens) weigh in on the matter. A must-read. [Los Angeles Times]

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<p>A scene from &quot;War Horse&quot;</p>

A scene from "War Horse"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

'War Horse,' 'Super 8' win with MPSE

'Hugo,' 'The Muppets' and 'Tintin' also go home with goodies

The Motion Picture Sound Editors' (MPSE) 59th annual Golden Reel Awards were held this evening, celebrating excellence in sound editing. "Super 8," you'll recall, led the way with nominees (and was nominated by the Cinema Audio Society), yet failed to score an Oscar nod in either sound category.

Tonight, the film managed to take home an award, for dialogue and ADR in a feature film. So it gets to hold its head up high. However, it was "War Horse" that triumphed in the sound effects and foley department, which is the area that most corresponds to Oscar (at least in terms of how the category is largely viewed).

After last night's CAS win for "Hugo," I started to lean toward a split between that film (mixing) and "War Horse" (editing) in the sound categories. I'm feeling that even more after tonight, but both categories could just as easily end up going to one film or the other. Pick your splits carefully.

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<p>A scene from the finale of ABC's &quot;Pan Am&quot;</p>
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A scene from the finale of ABC's "Pan Am"

Credit: ABC

ABC's 'Pan Am' finale looks to a future that may never come

Will 1964 be a good year for these fictional stewardesses? Probably not.
Because of Kurt Cobain's suicide note, "It's better to burn out/Than to fade away" is the most remembered line of of Neil Young's "Hey, Hey, My, My (Out of the Blue)," but the variation "It's better to burn out/ Than it is to rust" is every bit as evocative.
 
My favorite network pilot of the fall of 2010 was FOX's "Lone Star." It died spectacularly after only two airings, doing the sort of inconceivably low ratings that have taken their place as the stuff of industry legend.
 
On one hand, that failure was a TV-level tragedy (not to be confused with actual tragedy) because I like to see good things succeed, especially when those good things suggest different storytelling avenues from the ones normally followed on network primetime.
 
On the other hand, I'll always have a pristine memory of the "Lone Star" pilot, which I loved, and the second episode, which I quite enjoyed. I never had to worry about the predictable, hypothetical lag from episodes four through six. I never had to twiddle my thumbs through hypothetical episodes seven though 10 as the producers responded to low ratings by tinkering and stunt-casting. I never had to sit through the desperation of episode 13 with its hypothetical absurd cliffhanger to try to force FOX into renewal.
 
"Lone Star" burnt out, but it did so with authority. Kyle Killen lit the match and America and FOX licked their collective fingers and snuffed it out.
 
Poof.
 
My favorite network pilot of last fall was ABC's "Pan Am." I didn't love it, but I marveled at its high production values, stellar direction and charismatic cast and perhaps because I was comparing it directly to NBC's "Playboy Club" and indirectly to a lackluster crop of new fall shows, I admired its aspirations and its potential scope.
 
Unlike "Lone Star," "Pan Am" didn't instantly burn out. In fact, it premiered to nearly 11 million viewers and a robust 18-49 rating. It wasn't an instant hit, but ABC got people in the door, which seemed like a minor miracle.
 
Instead, "Pan Am" rusted. The show changed. Viewers tuned out. ABC kept airing the show opposite powerhouse dramas and major events and it kept getting clobbered.
 
Five months later, "Pan Am" is probably done. Sunday (Feb. 19) night's episode was only the season finale, but barring some sort of overhaul of what constitutes "success" and "failure" on network TV, it will also be its series finale.
 
Given what "Pan Am" has been for most of its truncated season, I'm not going to mourn the show's passing for very long. The cast never ceased to be charismatic and talented and the production values remained pretty admirable, but "Pan Am" lost any sense of its identity many months ago. The jumble of half-hearted Season 2 pitches in Sunday's finale only confirmed that lack of direction moving forward. 
 
Neither "Lone Star" nor "Pan Am" will see a back-nine, much less a second season, but with "Lone Star" we saw only the fall, but with "Pan Am," there was a complete decline and fall, all in accelerated motion.
 
More on the "Pan Am" finale after the break...
 
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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' - 'No Bones About It'

The brief peace treaty is broken when Kandi decides to stir things up

Remember last week, when our refined, cultured ladies took a trip to an orphanage and felt humbled and grateful to have such bounty in their lives? And how they then vowed to behave themselves after they left Africa, as they had now seen the big picture and realized their quibbles were nothing more than petty and ridiculous? Remember that? Yeah, don't bother, because that vow lasted a shorter length of time than most New Year's resolutions or Kardashian marriages. Heck, Marlo couldn't even dwell on her blessings long enough to get past dinner, because she was simply too incensed that her shrimp was RAW. "Waiter! Get me properly cooked shrimp so that I might be able to feel gratitude for my privileged life! Pronto!"

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<p>Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta in &quot;Tabu.&quot;</p>

Ana Moreira and Carloto Cotta in "Tabu."

Credit: O Som e a Furia

Berlinale Diary: 'Tabu,' 'Barbara,' 'Sister'

Wrapping up Berlin with the three best films of the fest

BERLIN - After having spent the bulk of my Berlinale awards report complaining about the jury's curious choice of Golden Bear winner, I'm more pleased than ever that I waited until my final dispatch to dig into my three favorite films of the festival. For this year's fest, despite what you may have heard from grumpier attendees, was not one that deserved to be sent off with a sneer.

Typically uneven, but inventively programmed and shrewdly paced, it seemed less than usual like a lineup feeding off Cannes and Venice's scraps than one built to its own smaller, funkier agenda. (Yes, at least one Competition entry, Brillante Mendoza's excitingly divisive "Captive," was turned down by both Croisette and Lido selectors last year -- but more fool them, I say.) When one smart UK critic tweeted yesterday that he clearly hadn't missed anything by not attending the Berlinale this year, I couldn't resist replying, "Well, except for a number of excellent films." The success stories of Berlin this year may not have been audible from a distance, but the festival will quietly claim delayed credit as they slowly trickle through to international arthouses.

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<p>The Academy of Motion Picture Arts of Sciences hardly represents the demographics of the moviegoing public.</p>

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts of Sciences hardly represents the demographics of the moviegoing public.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Surprise: The Academy is more white, more male and even older than you probably thought

New report is fuel for Academy's critics

This has not been a good year for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak.

Less than a year ago the Academy put on one of the most critically lambasted Oscar shows in memory.  That was followed by the controversial decision to change the best picture rules after only two years of a 10 nominees system. Next came the eyebrow raising decision to hire industry infant terrible Brett Ratner as the co-executive producer of the this year's 84th Academy Awards along with the bizarre return of previous producer Don Misher.  Things actually got worse after Ratner's resignation following insensitive comments at a public screening.  At that point, having initially agreed to host way to quickly (at least in his own mind), Eddie Murphy saw the out he'd been looking for and ran out of Dodge. Things seemed to have calmed down once Brian Grazer replaced Ratner and old favorite Billy Crystal agreed to host the big show for the ninth time.  Unfortunately, rumblings started about AMPAS opting out of their Kodak Theater contract which would find them leaving Hollywood for the more generic confines of the Nokia Theater at LA Live (shudder).  Today Sherak and the Academy found themselves the subject of a major investigative article from the Los Angeles Times breaking down the organization's usually private membership details.  Sherak and the Academy spoke to the paper about the findings, but this isn't the sort of story they'd like spreading through the media the week before the big show. Yep, it's been one of those years.

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<p>The cast of &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;&nbsp;in the Christmas finale.</p>

The cast of "Downton Abbey" in the Christmas finale.

Credit: ITV

Season finale review: 'Downton Abbey': Christmas in February

Some happier endings in the season-ending Christmas special, but was it good as a whole?

PBS just finished showing the second season of "Downton Abbey" (U.K. viewers saw the finale back at Christmas). I reviewed most of the season in non-specific terms in early January, and promised to weigh in with more details — and an opportunity for you to discuss the same — after it had all finished airing here in the States. That time has come, and I have various thoughts on both the finale and the season coming up  just as soon as I have a loader...

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<p>Steven Yeun in &quot;The Walking Dead.&quot;</p>

Steven Yeun in "The Walking Dead."

Credit: AMC

'The Walking Dead' - 'Triggerfinger': We need to talk about Shane

Some strong thriller scenes at the start, but when are the people going to become interesting?

A review of tonight's "The Walking Dead" coming up just as soon as I go get some flowers and candy for my prisoner...

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