Latest Blog Posts

<p>Chuck (Zachary Levi)&nbsp;and General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy)&nbsp;team up.</p>

Chuck (Zachary Levi) and General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) team up.

Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Santa Suit': Super man, too

A familiar face returns for a fantastic Christmas episode

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I record a message of love on an electronic bear...

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<p>Michelle Williams won yet another Best Actress prize for her performance in &quot;My&nbsp;Week with&nbsp;Marilyn.&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams won yet another Best Actress prize for her performance in "My Week with Marilyn."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oklahoma critics march in step, spring for 'The Artist,' Clooney and Williams

And 'Transformers' isn't THAT bad

The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle has spoken up and added nothing to the precursor conversation, going with a slate of typical winners. Most annoying, they totally got their "Obviously Worst Film" and "Not-So-Obviously-Worst-Film" awards mixed, but whatever. Check out the full list of winners below.

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Brian Burkhardt of "Project Accessory"

 Brian Burkhardt of "Project Accessory"

Credit: Lifetime Television

HitFix Interview: 'Project Accessory' winner talks Kenneth Cole, sleep deprivation and shoes

Brian Burkhardt has big plans for life post show

Okay, I still think Brian Burkhardt's swimwear-look necklace in the final challenge of "Project Accessory" looked like cotton balls on a chain (hey, judge Ariel Foxman thought the thing looked like it was going to hatch, so I'm not alone). Still, Brian took home the grand prize of $100,000 and bragging rights that his unicorn horn handbag will soon be carried in Kenneth Cole stores everywhere. Having had the chance to rest up from five grueling weeks of competition, the Florida-based sculptor-turned-designer was a lot more fun on the phone than I expected (on the show, he seemed more serious and focused, which might be why he won the whole shebang). Here's what the big winner had to say about his stint on reality TV.

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<p>Beyonce made Melinda Newman's top singles list twice.&nbsp; Who else made the list?</p>

Beyonce made Melinda Newman's top singles list twice.  Who else made the list?

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

My Top 20 Singles of 2011: Adele, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and much more

Newcomers and veterans make the list

This year was a decent year for singles. We can't say there were that many songs that consumed us; instead, there was a nice consistency where a broader number of artists, from all genres, supplied us with a steady ration of tunes that made it fun to turn on the car radio and wonder what ear candy would come on.

As you can see, my list also touches on many different genres. Like most folks, music comes at me from all different directions and I long ago stopped listening (or dismissing) music from any one specific format.

As disparate as these songs are, what they all have in common is that there was something compelling in each of them; something that kept me listening to them over and over and drawing me to them, whether it was the beat or a riff or a vocal performance or a lyric. Plus, my criteria is that they all had to be released to radio as singles.

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Top Ten of 2011: A year of Los Angeles films and superb style

Top Ten of 2011: A year of Los Angeles films and superb style

Which franchise surprisingly made the list?

Aren't you glad that's over?  Yes, 2011 was clearly one of the more mediocre and likely unmemorable years in cinema in quite awhile.  Sure, there were some amazing films released over the last 12 months, but it was much easier picking the top five pictures on my year end list than the second five.  It was just one of those years.

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No Oscar Talk this week

Happy Holidays

Anne and I are taking the first (much-needed) week off of the season from the podcast today. So we'll be back 12/30 to close out the year with our 75th (if you can believe it) episode. So enjoy the holidays, whatever you're doing, and enjoy a week off from our rambling nonsense.

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<p>Lana Del Rey</p>

Lana Del Rey

Watch: Lana Del Rey premieres 'Off to the Races' and heads to 'SNL'

Then three songs became four songs

Lana Del Rey has a full-length album due in a month, granted, but it seemed a little absurd when, this week, it was announced she'd be joining "Saturday Night Live" (Jan. 14) as a musical guest, two weeks before "Born to Die" drops on Jan. 31. She's released only three songs.

OK, well, make that four, if one were to include pop parody. Because that's what "Off to the Races" is, or sounds like.

Taking a nod to from Rihanna, the singer adds a little dub cadence to her vocals for the verse, before taking on karaoke campiness and ending the refrain with a squeak toy. This is a wordy word track, some narrative and some nonsense tumbling out into found footage of girls-and-guns. And, again with the blood, the religious imagery and guys with tattoos making kissy. I see some themes, but not much substance here.

So just add me to the hater pile-on. The late-'90s power dark-dance groove doesn't do much for me, not compared to the impeccable produced "Video Games." Vocally, Del Rey is still carving out her character.

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Watch: Rihanna gets touchy in 'You Da One' music video

How many looks does the pop star rock?

In her latest music video, pop star Rihanna has her way... with herself.

In an ode to her lover, the Def Jam singer made clear her erm positions on several key cultural uh touchstones. She also sports her newly minted bottom-teeth grill and gives an instructional guide on smoking sexily in four different looks, which I will call: "Clockwork Orange," full-body fishnet, glamor-puss and "nothing at all."

It's easy to see why "You Da One" was chosen as the second single from Ri-Ri's latest "Talk That Talk": while "We Found Love" takes listeners to Ibiza, it's safe to drag them back to the beginning -- the beginning of the album -- in Dr. Luke style with a shock of Caribbean flavor. The video matches the sounds simply. There's some lyrics, there's some sex and some Rihanna self-referentials. Pretty. Standard.

What do you think of the video?

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<p>At least one HFPA voter's favorite film of the year is &quot;The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

At least one HFPA voter's favorite film of the year is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." 

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Round-up: When is a simple omission a snub?

Also: championing Pitt for 'Tree of Life' and the year in LGBT characters

When last week's Globe and SAG nominations were announced, the blogosphere was thick with talk of who had been "snubbed." It's a word we're all guilty of misusing, implying as it does calculated group-think impossible with large voting bodies. (Film writer Nick Davis summed up the misconception with this tweet: "Whenever I order off a restaurant menu, I look at everything I didn't order, even the dish I almost chose, and I think, 'I'm snubbing them!'") Screen International editor (and HFPA voter) Mike Goodridge reminds us that voters can only vote for contenders, not against them; in a crowded field, omissions are inevitable, but who's to say they were pointedly ignored? Proving that a group like the HFPA is a hive of conflicting opinions, not the collective Globes mentality we often refer to, his own favorite film of the year is "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." [Screen Daily

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<p>It's been an uneven year overall for &quot;The Office,&quot;&nbsp;but Michael's proposal to Holly was a big high point.</p>

It's been an uneven year overall for "The Office," but Michael's proposal to Holly was a big high point.

Credit: NBC

Best of the Rest: 10 Great TV episodes from 2011

Even shows that weren't brilliant overall could offer momentary brilliance every now and then

Having already presented my lists of the best overall shows of the year, the best returning shows and the best new shows, it's time for my final superlatives list: 10 great episodes of shows that missed the cut on any of the other lists.

Some come from shows I like a lot, but not as much as some others that actually made a top 10. Some come from shows I once loved universally and now stick with for the occasional reminder of the good old days. And one comes from a show I came to hate pretty thoroughly, as a reminder that even bad shows are capable of greatness for an hour or two.

In no particular order...

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<p>Isabelle Huppert in Brillante Mendoza's &quot;Captured,&quot; set to premiere in Competition at the Berlinale in February.</p>

Isabelle Huppert in Brillante Mendoza's "Captured," set to premiere in Competition at the Berlinale in February.

Berlinale jury includes Gyllenhaal and Farhadi, first Competition titles announced

'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and 'Flowers of War' to play out of competition

With over two months left of Oscar talk that isn't even half as oppressive now as it will feel in a few weeks, I find myself eagerly looking forward to the mini-wave of winter festivals that will bring some fresh films to our attention -- in particular, the Berlin Film Festival, which I'll be attending once more in February. It's at Berlin where I've previously got a hefty head start on such films as "A Separation," "Coriolanus" and "The Illusionist," and I'm antsy to see what the most civilized of the major European fests is serving up next year.

We already have a couple of titles locked in place, and one of them is a major one: Brillante Mendoza's "Captured," starring arthouse queen Isabelle Huppert. I'd previously thought the film sounded a likelier contender for Cannes, but I'm told Berlin was always the target: anyway, after competing twice at Cannes and once at Venice, he now completes the hat-trick.

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Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'
Credit: Lionsgate Music

Listen: Taylor Swift and Civil Wars' 'Safe & Sound' from 'The Hunger Games'

Can you imagine Katniss singing this?

Wow, that Taylor Swift can keep a secret. She surprised her fans very late Thursday night with the perfect Christmas present: a new song, “Safe & Sound,” which will be on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack. Better yet, the lovely, acoustic song features The Civil Wars.

We don’t know much about how the whole thing came about, but Swift started dropping hints via Twitter earlier in the evening that she had a surprise, and then, wham. The song, written by Swift and Civil Wars,  is a lullaby of sorts, as she and The Civil Wars’ Joy Williams gently sing “Just close your eyes, the sun is going down/you’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now/Come morning light, you and I will be safe and sound” as a guitar and drum insistently and powerfully build, but never overwhelm the delicacy of the track. It's one of the prettiest songs we've heard Swift do.

[More after the jump...]

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