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<p>Judy Greer in Alexander Payne's &quot;The Descendants.&quot;</p>

Judy Greer in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Interview: Judy Greer on ‘The Descendants' and Payne's 'intimately hands-off' approach

She muses on her small but powerful role in one of the season's hottest films

Wins for both Best Picture and Best Actor at the Golden Globes Sunday, coupled with George Clooney’s victory at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards last week have solidified Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” as an Oscar frontrunner (if consistent critical approval hadn't already). Clooney stars in the film as Matt King, a man who must confront his wife’s infidelity as well as (to the best of his somewhat limited ability) his own inadequacies as a husband and father as she lay dying in a coma.

In addition to the precursor attention the film, director and lead actor have received, 19-year-old Shailene Woodley (who plays Clooney’s hybrid wild-child/precocious teen daughter) has been an intermittent presence in the supporting actress field (as well as a consistent one in the young or up-and-coming star arena). But for many cinema-goers, there is a third performance in the film that resonates long after the lights have come up. Judy Greer’s short-lived but palpable turn as Julie Speer, a woman who has the misfortune to discover that her husband Brian was having an affair with Clooney’s wife Elizabeth, is both grounded and evocative.

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"American Idol"

 "American Idol"

Credit: Fox

Recap: 'American Idol' hits Pittsburgh

It's time for more golden tickets - and more crying

It's time for another dose of "American Idol," which you may or may not be looking forward to if last night's ratings are any indication (although, let's face it, 21.26 million viewers is nothing to sneeze at). Dan is freezing his butt off at Sundance, so I'll be handling his "Idol" duties until next Wednesday. Allow me to freely admit that I didn't watch much of the show last season, as it overlaps with my other Thursday night recapping duties and Steven Tyler's hat collection scares me a little, so I hope you'll bear with me. 

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<p>The kids of &quot;Unsupervised.&quot;</p>

The kids of "Unsupervised."

Credit: FX

'Unsupervised' - 'Pilot: Risky business

What did everybody think of the new FX animated comedy?

I posted my review of FX's "Unsupervised" this morning. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think on this kinder, somewhat gentler spin on "Beavis & Butt-Head" from the "Always Sunny" guys? Did you like Gary and Joel? Did you find it funnier than I did? Do you prefer Kristen Bell's voiceover work here or on "Gossip Girl"? And given all the "Archer" love around here, are you going to stick around just because one airs after the other? 

Have at it.

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<p>Archer gets to know guest star Burt Reynolds in the season premiere.</p>

Archer gets to know guest star Burt Reynolds in the season premiere.

Credit: FX

'Archer' - 'The Man from Jupiter': Burt Reynolds is the bomb

The '70s icon goes driving with Sterling in the third season premiere

Earlier today, I posted an interview with "Archer" co-star Judy Greer. The season premiere just finished, and I loved how it made use of Burt Reynolds. There are times when it can feel awkward when a show spends an episode sucking up to a very special guest star, but it worked here because so much of Archer's personality - and so much of the show's approach to action - feels inspired by all those movies Reynolds did in the '70s and early '80s when he was the biggest movie star in the world.

As always, my coverage of the series is going to be intermittent (I tend to watch it in chunks, often well after individual episodes have aired), but fire away with your thoughts on the premiere.

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<p>Paul Rudd on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Paul Rudd on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'Campaign Ad': Pros and cons

Paul Rudd becomes Leslie's political rival in a strong episode

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as the pretender to the crown of Alsace-Lorraine gives me a dog...

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John Mayer plots his return with 'organic' 'Born And Raised'
Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

John Mayer plots his return with 'organic' 'Born And Raised'

Unveils limited edition at NAMM

Is the world ready for the return of John Mayer? Even a kinder, gentler on?

Mayer, who proved himself less than a gentleman when he made certain comments about past bedfellows Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson to Playboy in 2010, is on the road to redemption. He showed up at the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) on Wednesday to flog a very limited edition custom Martin guitar and to talk about his new album.

Born and Raised” has been delayed as Mayer has recovered from vocal issues, but he told the NAMM audience that the new set was “organic cowboy guitar sounds,” many of them created on his new Martin guitar (dubbed the 00-45SC John Mayer Edition), of which only 25 will be manufactured.

Mayer pondered, “What would it sound like if I wrote an album of cowboy songs on this guitar under the stars,” reports Rolling Stone. Though fans may not notice a huge difference between albums, he continued that he starts with a clean slate each time. “Every new record I start, a new aesthetic comes in. I can’t help it.”

No word yet on when he’ll be ready to go with the new album, his first since 2009’s “Battle Studies,” he told the audience that his vocals are still healing.  He first announced that he was putting his recording and touring plans on hold in September. At that time, he said the album is largely completed, other than finishing his vocals on a number of tracks.

 

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<p>&quot;The Descendants&quot;&nbsp;came out on top winning Best Picture and Best Director.</p>

"The Descendants" came out on top winning Best Picture and Best Director.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Iowa critics dig 'Descendants'

Top acting honors go to Brad Pitt and Viola Davis

The Iowa Film Critics have joined and drowned in the on-going chorus of year-end kudos-dishers. Drowned because it's all just a blur now. "The Descendants" came out on top, winning both Best Picture and Best Director. And there's Melissa McCarthy, yet again. Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>Troy (Donald Glover)&nbsp;and Abed (Danny Pudi)&nbsp;in their &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;blanket fort.</p>

Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) in their "Community" blanket fort.

Credit: NBC

Why I miss 'Community': Because Troy and Abed built a blanket fort

Greendale is a place where dreams can weirdly come to life for a while

NBC's Thursday lineup is once again about to start without "Community," which means it's time once again for me to post a video illustrating exactly why I'm going to miss the show for as long as it takes NBC to put it back somewhere on the schedule.

One of the things I love about "Community" is that while Greendale Community College could very easily seem like a small, depressing place where our characters have landed because they didn't have better options, it's actually a wide-open canvas where anyone's dreams - or nightmares - can come true, even if only for a little while.

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<p>Sundance Institute president and founder Robert Redford at this afternoon's press conference</p>

Sundance Institute president and founder Robert Redford at this afternoon's press conference

Credit: AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

Sundance: Settling in as Redford declares the state of independent film 'healthy'

Noobing my way through the Park City plunge

PARK CITY - Being at Sundance is weird. Really weird. This time of year I'm home, where it's safe to dive into the guild and other precursor announcements of the season without thinking about the scheduling of a film festival. But here I am, a first-timer amongst many pros (like the HitFix staff, all of them gamely showing me the ropes). Right smack dab in the middle of the Oscar season.

You see, that's what's kept me out of Sundance in the past. I could have come here any time over the last however many years, but the daunting prospect of a) dealing with the press pecking order (which was ultimately not that big a deal at all), and b) pulling double duty with awards coverage, has always kept me away.

Well, I'm happy to be here and soak up the experience a bit, even if it will be just a short taste-maker trip. It's back to the Los Angeles awards grind on Monday, the day before that magic moment: the announcement of this year's Oscar nominees.

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<p>The brutal rape of Lisbeth Salander is one of the key scenes in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,' but what do we lose or gain from the nonstop depiction of such an act in our culture?</p>

The brutal rape of Lisbeth Salander is one of the key scenes in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,' but what do we lose or gain from the nonstop depiction of such an act in our culture?

Credit: Music Box Films

The Bigger Picture: What happens when we find 'The Line' as viewers?

A viewing of a post-apocalyptic exploitation film sets off an unexpected reaction

This was originally supposed to be a review of the Xavier Gens film "The Divide."

That will not be happening.

Over the course of my life, I'd wager I've seen at least 10,000 movies.  Maybe more.  I've had years where I've mainlined as many as 500 movies, many of them older catalog titles.  I have a voracious appetite for all types of movies, both high art and low.  I love smart sophisticated movies, I love experimental films, and I love genre junk.  I love any movie that offers me a genuine experience of some sort, where there's something that moves me or that I recognize as true and well-observed or where someone just plain surprises me.  I am open to pretty much anything when I sit down to a new film.

But at the age of 41, at about 94 minutes into "The Divide," I reached a breaking point, and I realized that I am pretty much incapable of sitting through one more cheap, pointless, exploitative rape in a movie.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Captain&nbsp;America:&nbsp;The&nbsp;First Avenger&quot;</p>

A scene from "Captain America: The First Avenger"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tech Support: Wrapping up guesses throughout the Academy's craft categories

Part Two: Original Score, Original Song, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects

In part one of this feature, we spotlighted the fields of Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Makeup. Now to round out my final predictions in the crafts fields with the remainder.

BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Ludovic Bource’s music for Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Artist” was integral to the film and present in virtually every scene. The BAFTA-nominated and BFCA- and Golden Globe-winning score is firmly in the running, alongside John Williams’s booming BFCA-, Globe- and BAFTA-nominated work in “War Horse.” Any nomination for Williams will move him into first place in the all-time list for music nominees (breaking his current tie with Alfred Newman), behind only Walt Disney on the all-time overall list.

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Taking questions for 1/20 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Sorry to get this up later than usual, but you know the drill. Fire off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast. Get them in fast, though. We're recording in a few hours.

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