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The Fien Print's TV Top 10 of 2011

Where do 'Game of Thrones,' 'Justified' and other favorites fit in?
If you're a regular podcast listener, I already revealed my Top 10 of 2011 in this week's Firewall & Iceberg. If you're not... This'll be new for you. And even if you already know the listing, you haven't seen my Top 10 with studio-recorded voiceover and superior editing from our video guru Alex Dorn.
As I discussed on the podcast, my Top 9 was pretty easy to put together. Other than specific placement between No.6 and No.9, there was almost no deliberation at all. 
The issue arose at No.10, where I had five or six shows that I wanted to place in that position. If you're going to cheat -- SEPINWALL!!! -- it's easy to find an extra place for an extra show and I could have come up with thematic reasons to pair, for example, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Archer." If I'd had the chance to see the "Boardwalk Empire" finale before the list was locked, it might have also made a stronger case than it did when the season was unresolved still.
But no matter. I'm happy with the show that rounds out my Top 10 list and many of the shows I regretted excluding will appear in my Second 10 blog post later this week and darned if I'm not going to cheat to find a way to get 13 or 14 shows into that Second 10. 
This list has what I think is a good mixture of the various types of shows that made 2011 such a solid year on the small screen. I've got a couple comedies, a couple costume dramas, a couple thrillers, a fantasy, a sports drama and TV's *best* show about vampires and werewolves [Suck it, "True Blood"].
Anyway, sound off on my Top 10 below. I'll post my Second 10 on Friday, I think.
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Watch: Game and Tyler The Creator in Lil Wayne-featured 'Martian vs. Goblin'

An insane asylum, just in time for Christmas

If you missed Game's "The R.E.D." album release in August, that's OK: the set's release date was bumped almost a dozen times. However, if you missed the rapper's collaboration with Tyler the Creator, here's another chance.

The two play a couple of nutter-butter's locked up in the ugliest insane asylum this side of "Session 9," with the pair punting gibes back-and-forth through the glass. The Odd Future member dangles a cat and gives us his best crazy eye as he returns to his seemingly endless well of making fun of Bruno Mars and gay-baiting, this time linking homosexuals to Log Cabin (Republicans) and the original definition of "faggot." Still, while Game continues to hold his guns up for Chris Brown and throws Rihanna in front of a train with his rhymes, at least Tyler brings thunder about that highlighter hair.

There's also the LeBron James diss, with a hilarious "he lost" at the end of his verse. Game takes up that baller and runs with him in the last, as he's about to get punctures with a needle containing that gravy you're about to eat at Christmas. But fanboys beware: watch your blood pressure rise as Game makes this statement, "Mad that DC comics overlooked me / Cause Captain America's straight pussy." Marvel-ous.

How do you like this crazy creepy clip for Christmas? Bummed Lil Wayne couldn't come to the party?

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Interview: Sir Ben Kingsley on male vulnerability and the limitless vision of Georges Méliès

How the actor used the former joy of the man to inform a sense of loss in 'Hugo'

Actor Ben Kingsley first got his taste of collaboration with filmmaker Martin Scorsese in 2010 on the thriller "Shutter Island." It was a long time coming, but for Kingsley, who says he always appreciated Scorsese's work as a filmmaker, it was a unique characteristic of the director's process that really spoke to the actor.

"I haven’t quite realized until working with him that he films male vulnerability in a very special and gifted way," Kingsley says over tea at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills. "He actually directs like a lover more than a tyrant, with tenderness rather than insistence. He’s a perfectionist, but he gets it through extraordinary virile tenderness as a man. And he can guide an actor through vulnerability superbly well."

In "Shutter Island," Kingsley starred as a psychiatrist desperately, it turns out, trying to guide a patient (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) out of the twisted, fragmented shards of his own mind. His vulnerability in that film was his unconditional love for his patient, but in "Hugo," his latest collaboration with Scorsese, it comes from a different place of personal anguish.

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<p>&quot;The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King&quot; won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated in the 2003 race.</p>

"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated in the 2003 race.

Credit: New Line Cinema

With 'The Hobbit' looming, we revisit the record-tying Oscar haul for 'Return of the King'

How many of the 2003 juggernaut's 11 statuettes did it deserve to win?

Yesterday's unveiling of the trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was greeted with feverish enthusiasm not just by the legions of "Lord of the Rings" and Peter Jackson fanboys (and girls), but by the equally excitable clan of Oscar pundits too.

That's hardly surprising: as Kris wrote yesterday, when one is talking about the follow-up (or, shall we say, prequel) to a blockbuster trilogy that amassed 17 Academy Awards and 30 nominations, it's fair to guess the new film will at least be in the conversation next year. Particularly when most of the original creative team is involved: production designer Grant Major has been replaced with Dan Hennah, while Ann Maskrey fills in for Ngila Dickson on costumes, but otherwise, we're partying like it's 2003 here.

True to form, I haven't watched the trailer, but my own blind prognosis for the new film's awards performance has little to do with how good it turns out to be: there was such an aura of finality to the 2003 Oscar race's crowning of "The Return of the King," a sense of dues paid and collective achievement recognized, that I'd be surprised if the Academy feels obliged to go there again, outside the likely slew of technical citations.

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<p>Kristen Wiig and &quot;Bridesmaids&quot;&nbsp;gets some Oscar love in this new TV spot.</p>

Kristen Wiig and "Bridesmaids" gets some Oscar love in this new TV spot.

Watch: The Oscar race is no laughing matter for 'Bridesmaids' anymore

Universal puts serious money in TV spots for a best picture nod

Do you remember way back in September when "Bridesmaids" star Melissa McCarthy stunned TV fans with her Emmy win in the best actress in a comedy series category?  At the time the scuttlebutt was whether the industry love for McCarthy's breakout role in one of the biggest hits of the summer count translate into a legitimate Oscar campaign for best supporting actress.  Oh, how times have changed.

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

Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

The film hits theaters today

After all the behind-the-scenes drama on embargoes and what not, David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" finally opens nationwide today and you'll be able to see it and gauge for yourself. If you heard last week's podcast, you heard pretty much all I have to say on the matter, but in brief, I find it to be Fincher's least compelling film to date, a waste of resources on a property that wasn't enlivened or elevated at all by the presence of all the talent involved. I do, however, believe that Rooney Mara's performance is something special. But enough about what I think, what do you think? Tell us here when/if you get around to the film this week.

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<p>Joseph Gordon-Levitt won Best Actor for his performance in &quot;50/50.&quot;</p>

Joseph Gordon-Levitt won Best Actor for his performance in "50/50."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Utah critics award 'Drive,' '50/50'

Unique set of winners includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Amy Ryan

The Utah Film Critics Association has chosen "Drive" as the Best Picture of the year. The film also won Best Supporting Actor for Albert Brooks and Best Cinematography. The group handed two awards to Jonathan Levine's "50/50," Best Actor for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Best Original Screenplay. Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>&quot;The Tree of Life&quot; and director Terrence Malick came first in Indiewire's poll of over 150 critics.</p>

"The Tree of Life" and director Terrence Malick came first in Indiewire's poll of over 150 critics.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Round-up: indieWIRE survey plants 'Tree of Life' at the top

Also: Brad Bird's winter playlist and Kim Jong-il on film

With travel and near-terminal laptop trouble consuming the last two days for me, I was late getting to Indiewire's 2011 critics' poll, the most comprehensive collective of its type, and one in which Kris and I both participated. The results are unsurprising, but no less gratifying for it -- I'm particularly pleased to see "Margaret" scoring in the Top 10, while Anna Paquin, Jeannie Berlin and Kenneth Lonergan's screenplay all place in the top three of their respective fields. Additionally, they collected some observations from participants about the year in film: I muse on the British auteur revival, Mike D'Angelo celebrates the Team Margaret hashtag phenomenon and Richard Brody tackles the distribution racket. Fun reading all round. [Indiewire]

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<p>Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in &quot;Drive.&quot;</p>

Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in "Drive."

Credit: FilmDistrict

Q&A: Albert Brooks talks 'Drive,' awards love, the problem with twitter and Judd Apatow

Was I awake enough to ask coherent questions?

After a long and very busy Golden Globes morning last Tuesday, this pundit collapsed into a well deserved nap.  Being an entertainment writer/journalist/critic/commentator is a fantastic job, but the back to back days you have to get up at 5 AM to hear both SAG and Globe nominations are arguably the toughest of the year.  An hour later, I groggily woke up and stared at the 40 new E-mails that somehow found their way into my inbox.  Just two minutes later the phone rang.  Smartly, I answered the unknown number and heard, "Greg?  This is Albert Brooks."

Crap Ellwood.  You better wake up, snap out of it and get it together.

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<p>Albert of &quot;Survivor: South Pacific&quot;</p>
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Albert of "Survivor: South Pacific"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Albert Destrade talks 'Survivor: South Pacific'

The season's third place finisher makes his case for the million
Although "Survivor" shifted to a three-person finale back in the "Cook Islands" season, Jury votes turned nearly every season into a two-castaway contest, leaving one finalist suffering the ignominy of a Jury shutout.
In the case of "Survivor: South Pacific," the castaway who left Sunday (December 18) night's finale voteless was Albert Destrade, who finished third behind Sophie Clarke and Coach.
Throughout the season, Albert never lacked for confidence and he headed into the final Tribal Council convinced he'd trounce his rivals and take the million.
Instead, Albert chatted with me on Monday morning still irked at the Jury shutout, but also irked at himself for not properly positioning himself as the season's mastermind, which he believes himself to be.
In our exit interview, Albert passionately makes his case for his influence on this "Survivor" season, while also lamenting the moves he didn't make that could have won the game for him.
Click through and see if you've been swayed to Albert's cause [Coach's exit interview tomorrow, followed by Sophie's the following day.]...
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<p>Martin Freeman in &quot;The Hobbit:&nbsp;An Unexpected Journey&quot;</p>

Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

First trailer for 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' brings back memories of Oscars past

Will the new prequels find similar luck in the awards season?

Nearly eight years ago, the Academy Awards saw one of the great clean sweeps of all time as "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" walked away with the 11 Oscars for which it was nominated. The grand release at the end of a three-year journey that saw a total of 30 Oscar nominations and 17 wins, the film was the bow on a lucrative, critically acclaimed series that could only again be matched by the same unique mixture.

After legal disputes and a non-starting try with a different filmmaker at the helm, audiences will again be treated to that same unique mixture after all as the Peter Jackson-directed "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" hits theaters in one year's time, with a part two, "There and Back Again," to follow in 2013. And with the release of the first full trailer for the former, one can't help but wonder: will Oscar come calling again?

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<p>Emma Stone (left)&nbsp;and Viola Davis in &quot;The Help&quot;</p>

Emma Stone (left) and Viola Davis in "The Help"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Black Film Critics Circle taps 'The Help' best of the year

Olivier Litondo and Viola Davis win top acting honors

The Black Film Critics Circle has chosen "The Help" as the best film of the year. The film won four other awards, including Best Actress for Viola Davis. "Pariah" director Dee Rees won Best Director, one of three awards for the film. And Albert Brooks added yet another honor to his mantle. Check out the full list of winners below.

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