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<p>Gary Oldman, an Oscar nominee at last</p>

Gary Oldman, an Oscar nominee at last

Credit: Focus Features

'Hugo' leads with 11 Oscar nominations, 'War Horse' in, 'Dragon Tattoo' out

Fassbender, Woodley and Brooks duplicate SAG snubs while 'Extremely Loud' pops up in nine-film Best Picture category

The nominees are in and the surprises are few and far between, in my opinion (though others seem to be picking their jaws up off the floor this morning). As I mentioned yesterday, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" caught fire with voters down the stretch and was very much on their lips. The film turned up in the nine-film Best Picture category today, despite being critically disassembled, and that was pretty much the only eyebrow-raiser of the major categories. The film only showed up in one other category: Best Supporting Actor for Max Von Sydow.

"Hugo" led the way with a whopping 11 nominations while "The Artist" wasn't far behind with 10. But what's interesting is that there is a big gap between those two films and the next tier, as "Moneyball" and "War Horse" (which made it into the Best Picture field and was clearly popular throughout, despite its paltry guild showing) landed six each. "The Descendants," meanwhile, landed five (and Shailene Woodley was indeed snubbed, following suit with the indications of SAG last month), as did "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which was snubbed in the Best Picture field after a really strong guild showing.

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<p>&quot;Slavery By Another Name&quot;</p>
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"Slavery By Another Name"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'Slavery By Another Name'

Post-Reconstruction doc is more informative than artistic
Adapting literary works of fiction for narrative movies and television is always a challenge, but in many ways, adapting literary non-fiction works as documentaries is even more complicated. 
 
Much of the authorship in documentary filmmaking comes from an almost journalistic approach to storytelling and more than a few popular non-fictiom tomes have been poorly adapted as documentaries because with a preponderance of research already done and on the page, the directors have been unable to transfer that research to the new medium in a fresh way.
 
In "Slavery By Another Name," playing in the US Documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival, director Sam Pollard struggles with how to make Douglas A. Blackmon's Pulitzer Prize-winning book into something cinematic. At every turn, you can sense and appreciate Pollard's efforts, but he's still too reliant on talking head historians in general, and Blackmon's own insights in specific, to really open "Slavery By Another Name" up as a film.
 
Intellectually, "Slavery By Another Name" is sturdy and well-researched stuff and it will play well when it airs on PBS next month and it should play well in the future in classrooms, but as a film festival entry, it isn't nearly confident enough in its artistry. There's no harm in a dry history lesson, but Pollard may have hoped to achieve more than that.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>&quot;Love Free or Die&quot;</p>
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"Love Free or Die"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'Love Free or Die'

With Bishop Gene Robinson at the forefront, faith and gay rights are on the agenda
Macky Alston's "Love Free or Die," playing in the US Documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival, begins as a portrait of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Church.
 
Even if "Love Free or Die" had been content to just remain focused on "the most controversial Christian in the world," it would have had a solid story to tell. Despite facing death threats and opposition within his own church, Robinson is a sensitive, funny and altogether inspirational subject.
 
The thing that elevates "Love Free or Die" -- which I will eventually type as "Love Free or Die Hard" in this review -- is that in its final act, the documentary leaves Robinson almost entirely and, without belaboring its point, it becomes the story of change, a moving look at how even a rigid church with centuries of entrenched methodology can begin a slow shift towards inclusiveness and equality. 
 
"Love Free or Die" is the latest in one of Sundance's most enduring genres, one represented by dozens of films each year: The preaching-to-the-choir documentary. But by underplaying its undeniably emotional high points and smartly avoiding the demonization of opposition points of view, "Love Free or Die" could plausibly play to audiences outside of the choir.
 
Click through for more...
 
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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' - 'The Real Wedding of Beverly Hills'

It's a ridiculously big wedding for the season finale

Oh, yay, it's time for Pandora's wedding. Sorry, I just can't get excited about a person/character I don't care about having a ridiculously expensive wedding. It's a bit like being dragged to the nuptials of a second cousin you never particularly liked and having to make tepid small talk with complete strangers until you can run to your car without offending anyone. I know, I know, some people love weddings, any weddings, but when the main players are exceedingly dull rich kids, it's hard not to think that there are starving people somewhere who'd be happy to eat not only the leftovers, but possibly the flower arrangements. 

Pandy wants more diamonds on her dress! Pandy wants everything pink! Pandy wants bubblegum pink labels on all the wine bottles! Pandy wants Mommy to wear a tiara! Glad she likes everything the color of Pepto Bismol. Unfortunately, I am even less excited about Paul's colonoscopy. At least a minute is dedicated to Paul passing gas after the procedure. Oh, I'm sorry, passing AIR. All I can say is both of these storylines make me want to sick up a bit. 

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

Recap: The catfighting begins in earnest on 'The Bachelor'

One girl complains to Ben about another - and it might cost her a rose

Catfight in Park City, Utah! Or at least it looks that way from the promo. We’re getting tears, insults and death threats, which means “The Bachelor” has just hit its stride. It’s hard to believe these girls are willing to take one another out over a dork like Ben, but anything is possible when you lock a bunch of women in a suite without phone, Internet, fashion magazines or basic cable.

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<p>Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy discuss &quot;Red Lights&quot;&nbsp;at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.</p>

Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy discuss "Red Lights" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

'Red Light's' Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy talk paranormal activity

Which movie got Olsen's audience award vote?

PARK CITY - In my review for "Arbitrage" this weekend I mentioned that sometimes films that should debut at Sundance are likely better served with a premiere at Toronto and vice versa.  The two major acquisition festivals have their own unique aesthetics and while they try to mix it up now and then the results can sometimes be mind-bogglingly frustrating for audiences.  On Friday night, director Rodrigo Cortes returned to Park City two years after his Ryan thriller "Buried" debuted in the Midnight section to big buzz and a Lionsgate pick-up.  His new film, "Red Lights," is a slick, entertaining and quirky thriller with fine performances from Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro and Cillian Murphy, but it didn't gel with the Sundance press corps.  If it had debuted at Toronto?  Many of the same journalists and reviewers would have enjoyed it a bit more.  

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'A Separation' leads International Cinephile Society nods

'A Separation' leads International Cinephile Society nods

10 mentions for Iranian Oscar hopeful, 9 for 'Mysteries of Lisbon'

One last (I presume) set of critics' award nominations before we head into the second stage of Oscar season: the International Conephile Society is made up of over 80 international journalists and film professionals, and that diversity is reflected in the nominations, with "A Separation" topping the list with 10 nominations (including four acting bids, none of them for the superb Sarina Farhadi). I participated in the voting, which probably won't surprise you when you read the nomination tallies for "Weekend" and "Margaret." Full list after the jump.

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Watch: Miley Cyrus as you've never seen her on Dylan cover
Credit: Amnesty International

Watch: Miley Cyrus as you've never seen her on Dylan cover

Teenager shows her maturity on 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go'

Miley Cyrus’s second act starts now. Her country-fied cover of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” shows off a more mature, lovely side of her.

The video for the track, recorded for the 73-song “Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan: Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International,” showcases Cyrus in an empty apartment, accompanied only by three sidemen as she plaintively sings the song seated on a stool beside guitarist Johnzo West. She sounds great. She doesn’t overplay it or underplay it. She’s could have a great country record inside of her.

[More after the jump...]

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Garbage launches own label for new set

Garbage launches own label for new set

First album in seven years due this spring

Garbage has launched its own label, Stunvolume, to put out its first new album in seven years.

The still-untitled set will come out this Spring via separate licensing deals worldwide including via Universal Music Group-owned Fontana in the U.S. The group had previously recorded for Interscope Records.

The band, which includes Shirley Manson,  Butch Vig, Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, is recording the set in Los Angeles, marking the first time the group has not recorded in Madison, Wis., where the foursome formed 16 years ago. In an interview in the December issue of British music magazine Mojo, Manson says the new album includes such title as “Automatic Systematic,” “Habit, “Blood Poppies,” and “I Hate Love.” Manson partially blamed the long hiatus on  Interscope’s reaction to  2005''s "Bleed Like Me,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, but didn’t sell as well as its predecessors. She and Vig saw each other at a friend’s memorial service in 2010 and that got the reunion discussion rolling.

On its Facebook page, the group included a cryptic message about the album:

Our intention is to make a great record that we have written, recorded and produced as a band.
We intend to tell the truth.
We are one.
Even though it's hard.

The album will be accompanied by a previously-announced tour, which kicks off May 11 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

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"Shahs of Sunset"

 "Shahs of Sunset"

Credit: Bravo

Ryan Seacrest's 'Shahs of Sunset' gets start date from Bravo

Six rich Persian-Americans get their fifteen minutes with new show

Ryan Seacrest strikes again. He'll be adding to his Kardashian TV empire with a new series, "Shahs of Sunset," beginning Sun. March 11 (10 p.m. ET on Bravo). Following the lives of six Persian-American friends, the show will focus on their efforts to juggle social lives and careers with family tradition.

“Shahs of Sunset” cast includes: 

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<p>Tim McGraw wants to get you all emotional.</p>

Tim McGraw wants to get you all emotional.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Album Review: Does Tim McGraw's 'Emotional Traffic' get in gear?

Will he knock Adele out of the top spot?

In recent interviews, Tim McGraw has repeatedly said that he feels like he’s achieved only about 30% of his potential in his music career.

With Jan. 24's  “Emotional Traffic,” his last studio album for Curb, he moves that needle slightly forward. Though he doesn’t achieve any major breakthroughs, he hits most of the musical and lyrical notes that have helped make him a country superstar for nearly two decades.

On album opener, the midtempo “Halo,” McGraw is weathering, none to well, the fall out of an ended love affair, as he sings, with barely concealed contempt: “I’ll crawl out of my cradle, down into my black hole and you just lay low under your halo.”

It's a great opening shot  that shows off McGraw’s voice, which has always been full of rough edges and nuance, despite its limited range. Somewhere around  2001’s “Set This Circus Down,” he harnessed its strength and power and figured out what songs work best for it, not only musically, but thematically.

[More after the jump...]

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Eddie Vedder hits the road on solo tour before Pearl Jam heads to Europe

Eddie Vedder hits the road on solo tour before Pearl Jam heads to Europe

Florence + the Machine also set Spring outing

Eddie Vedder will hit the road this Spring for a 13-date solo tour to support his Grammy-nominated “Ukulele Songs.”  Primarily a  theater outing, the tour includes a May 3 stop at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The dates precede Pearl Jam’s European tour, which starts Jane 20 in Manchester, England. Opening the solo outing, which starts April 11,  will be Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, who appears on “Ukulele Songs.”  Tickets go on sale Feb. 3.

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