Latest Blog Posts

<p>Chelsea Handler and Laura Prepon in NBC's &quot;Are You There, Chelsea?,&quot;&nbsp;one of dozens of new TV&nbsp;shows about to start premiering.</p>

Chelsea Handler and Laura Prepon in NBC's "Are You There, Chelsea?," one of dozens of new TV shows about to start premiering.

Credit: NBC

Glad to see me? I guess we're in the next year!

Get ready for lots of premieres and lots of press tour coverage in the weeks ahead

Happy New year, everybody! I was on a light schedule last week (though not as light as the TV business itself, which tends to ignore the last couple of weeks of December as much as possible), but I'm back in action big-time this week, as TV's mid-season begins with a new wave of premieres, plus the start of the Television Critics Association winter press tour later this week.

Over the weekend, we posted a gallery running down most of the notable TV debuts and returns of the next few months (plus some shows not coming back until later in the year), and as you can see, January is going to be pretty damn busy in terms of premieres. I'll have a review of ABC's "Work It" coming up a little later today, and I'll be trying to review as many premieres as possible, given the usual scheduling issues coupled with the insanity that is press tour.

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<p>I chose to use this shot because honestly, I&nbsp;can never get enough shots of the Witch-King and his crazy Fell Beast</p>

I chose to use this shot because honestly, I can never get enough shots of the Witch-King and his crazy Fell Beast

Credit: New Line Home Video

Could 'Lord of the Rings' have been public domain today?

The shifting landscape of copyright law makes for some interesting close calls

It's one of those accidents of timing that I would decide to finally watch the documentary "These Amazing Shadows" on January 1, the same day that I read an article about what works would have been entering the public domain on January 1, 2012, if not for a new law that revised copyright in the United States in the late '70s.

Even so, those two different bits of information at the same time caused me to really consider the idea of the public domain and what that even means.  Look at this year's Oscar poster, look at something like "The Artist" or "Hugo," or look at that documentary, and it's apparent that the main message Hollywood wants to sell you is that the memories Hollywood creates are the things that we all share, that unite us.

Isn't that the big idea behind public domain in the first place?

If you create something that everyone eventually internalizes, something like… let's pick a random example that has nothing to do with anything I happened to publish in the last week on this blog like, say, "Lord Of The Rings"… something that is hugely influential and widely commercialized and heavily exploited… then after a certain amount of time, you're going to have to expect things like fan fiction and different interpretations and parody and homage and plain old fashioned borrowing, and there comes a point where law was designed to finally say, "Okay, everyone, have at it.  The creator has had enough time with it.  Everyone knows it at this point.  It's all yours.  Do with it what you will."  That's what the law originally had in mind, with a set time period that could be renewed if the author still had an active interest in the thing.  If not, if no one stepped forward to claim something, then it would become public domain. 

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<p>A viewing of 'These Amazing Shadows' this afternoon lit a match under me as a viewer and made me consider what I hope to accomplish this year here on HitFix</p>

A viewing of 'These Amazing Shadows' this afternoon lit a match under me as a viewer and made me consider what I hope to accomplish this year here on HitFix

Credit: SPHE

Some thoughts on 'These Amazing Shadows' and the National Registry to kick off 2012

A documentary about film preservation offers a great reset for a new year of movies

Ted Turner may be the greatest accidental hero in the history of film preservation.

Let me back up and take the long way around to get to this point.  I'm going to try something different this year and keep a media journal for myself, to not just break down what movies I watch but every bit of media I ingest.  When, how much, where, what I used to watch them.  I'm curious about my own diet, but also about our media diets in general.

With this in mind, I realized that I wanted to pick just the right thing to start 2012, and so I opened Netflix Instant and pulled up the documentary "These Amazing Shadows," a movie about the National Film Registry and why it was created, how the films are chosen, who chooses them, and what it all means.

I had not seen the film before, and it's a lovely piece on the cultural importance of movies, the nature of film preservation, and how we share our cultural history.  One thing the movie reminds me of is the way these films that have become old hat, ingrained to the point of white noise to some of us, are always new to someone, and there's an importance to the idea of keeping them pristine and available so that future audiences have their chance to have that experience.  Yes, I've seen "Wizard Of Oz" so many times over the course of my life that I barely "see" it when it's on, but this ongoing Film Nerd 2.0 project with my kids underlines the idea that every viewer has their first time with films, and setting the stage the right way for that first viewing can mean so much.  You can ruin a movie by showing it wrong, and you can make an afternoon into magic if you show it right.

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<p>Killing a dragon in face-to-face combat may be one of the highlights of 'Skyrim,' but it is hardly the sole reason to recommend the game, which is as close to role-playing virtual reality as I've encountered so far</p>

Killing a dragon in face-to-face combat may be one of the highlights of 'Skyrim,' but it is hardly the sole reason to recommend the game, which is as close to role-playing virtual reality as I've encountered so far

Credit: Bethesda Studios

2011's Best Of The Rest includes dragon-killing and the world's dirtiest podcast

Louis CK changes the world, fantasy football gets funny, and more as we look back

I made a mention of a Girl Talk concert the other night on Twitter… well, actually, that's not true.  I RT'd someone else's mention of the show, and I got a surprised response from someone who seemed amazed by the idea that I have any other interests than film, which is fair.  When you spend as much time writing and talking about one subject, it would seem to be the defining thing about you.

But of course, there are other ways I spend my time, and other things I give my mental real estate to, and music and games and books are all part of what I feel keeps me sane and interesting and engaged each and every year, all of them ingested for different reasons and in different ways and in different quantities.  I decided that the last thing I run every year should be this article, the one that bats clean-up for all the other End-Of-The-Year pieces.

The big one, of course, in terms of time spent putting it together and considering it, is my Ten Best Films of 2011 list.  And I think that turned out pretty well.  My piece about the next ten film, the Runners-Up, was also solid, I thought.  And then there was my list of The Ten Worst Films of 2011 as well.  All of those took time.

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<p>Fireworks erupt over the Kremlin (alive and well despite what you saw in &quot;Mission:&nbsp;Impossible - Ghost Protocol&quot;), signaling the start of a new year.</p>

Fireworks erupt over the Kremlin (alive and well despite what you saw in "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"), signaling the start of a new year.

Credit: AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Ringing out the old with hope for the new

So long, 2011

'Twas a year of change to say the least at In Contention. A little more than three months into our new arrangement with HitFix and we're going strong as ever. A new voice in Roth's unique perspective has added another dimension, as Guy and Gerard continue firing on all cylinders in their roles.

So as 2012 slowly creeps westward across the globe, greeting any number of international readers before finally making its way to Los Angeles, allow me to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. Thanks for reading, for sticking with us through the growing pains, for engaging and being respectful amid lively debate and for making In Contention unique and rich with the spirit of community.

See you next year.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 75 -- Critics' picks so far, 'War Horse' box office, PGA/WGA preview, boiling down Best Actress and more

Oscar Talk: Ep. 75 -- Critics' picks so far, 'War Horse' box office, PGA/WGA preview, boiling down Best Actress and more

Also: Would Jessica Chastain be riding such a high without a large body of work this year?

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

We took a week off around Christmas to refocus and leave all this madness behind for a moment, but we're back on the case today ready to chew on the few morsels left in the year to discuss. The clock is ticking on 2011, so let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>The cover of Adele's &quot;21&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

The cover of Adele's "21"

Will Adele ring in the New Year headed back to No. 1 on the Billboard 200?

Buble and Bieber likely go bye bye

Bye bye, Buble, bye bye Bieber. If next week’s Billboard 200 follows the usual pattern, most, if not all, of the holiday titles will fall out of the Top 10 next week.

As Michael Buble’s “Christmas” likely vacates the top spot, early signs indicate that Adele’s “21” will move back into No. 1. If so, it will mark her 14th non-consecutive week in the pole position. Billboard projects sales of around 150,000.  “21” is on target to surpass “Titantic,” which spent 16 weeks at No. 1 in 1998.

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<p>Yvonne Strahovski got a Sarah spotlight on tonight's &quot;Chuck.&quot;</p>
<br />

Yvonne Strahovski got a Sarah spotlight on tonight's "Chuck."


Credit: NBC

'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. the Baby': The mother and child reunion

Yvonne Strahovski kicks ass in another strong Sarah spotlight

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as we actively waste our babysitter...

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<p>To be honest, that's usually how Elijah&nbsp;Wood looks at the end of a long night of movies at Fantastic Fest, but in this case, it's the climax of 'Return Of The King' we're looking at</p>

To be honest, that's usually how Elijah Wood looks at the end of a long night of movies at Fantastic Fest, but in this case, it's the climax of 'Return Of The King' we're looking at

Credit: New Line Home Video

A Return To Middle-Earth, Part III: Liveblogging 'Return of The King' on Blu-ray

Everything wraps up in the most important of the extended home video cuts

The mail from you guys about the liveblogging this week has been interesting, and if it's something you'd like to do on some sort of regular schedule, we can try that in the new year.  I would happily pick some of my favorite movies on Blu-ray and a time when we can watch them together.  Or newer movies.  Or movies I've never seen, but should have, which could be interesting as well. 

Whether we continue it or not, though, I'm glad to have finally sat down to see these movies again.  Time had diminished them somewhat in my mind, reduced them to the set pieces and the spectacle and the hype, and I had forgotten what really makes them special, the human and emotional content of the movies.  And now, as I gear up for "Return Of The King," I'm nearly as excited as I was before I saw the film for the first time in 2003, eager to see everything tied together.

Tonight's going to be a long one, so I just had a sandwich, I've got a few drinks set aside, and I'm powdered and primped and ready to go.  We've got over four hours of movie ahead, which will make this an Oscar-length live-blog.  A marathon.  And as I said last night before "The Two Towers," it's been long enough that I really have forgotten much of this movie already.

I'm amazed at how many remarkable moments I'd forgotten.  That whole bit at the end of "Towers" between Frodo and the Nazgul is gorgeous and creepy and bizarre, and I'd totally forgotten it, and I'd forgotten the way Frodo almost attacks Sam for stopping him, furious at the idea that he didn't get to hand the Ring over.  Wonderful, and this revisit is giving me all of these moments anew, which is one of the reasons I intentionally set them aside for a while.

Toshi has been arguing his case like he's appealing his own death sentence, passionate and determined, absolutely ready to sit down and watch all three films with me right now.  Only... he's not.  Not really.  He gets images in his head and treats them as nightmare fuel in a way that even Allen doesn't.  Toshi tends to really feel the movies he watches, engaging with them deeply, and I think these films are full of stuff he's really not equipped to see yet.

But the interest is there, and so I showed him the trailer for "The Hobbit."  He immediately understood that it was "more" of "Lord Of The Rings," and I made him a deal.  He can see the movie in theaters next Christmas with me, but only if we read the book (as in I read, he listens and discusses) before the film comes out.  He says he's up for it, and if so, this should be a real treat of a year.

But for now... let's press play and start the final steps of this giant journey...

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<p>Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in &quot;The Iron Lady.&quot;</p>

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Is it time for 'The Iron Lady's' Meryl Streep to win a third Oscar?

Contrary to critics of the picture its certainly deserved

The hype surrounding Meryl Streep's turn as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's "The Iron Lady" has been relatively constant since her involvement in the project was announced in July, 2010.  Beyond the fact Streep's involvement in any drama immediately makes it Oscar bait, Thatcher was an incredibly polarizing figure in Great Britain.  She broke new ground as the country's first female PM and stood firm by Ronald Reagan in the last days of the Cold War, but was despised by the members of the opposition party (Labour) for her economic and Union-busting policies (among other issues).  So, in many ways, it wasn't a surprise that the initial reviews for the awards season player were mixed when the film was first screened for critics in London. As Lloyd noted in a conversation we had about the film before the holiday, she found her own friends questioning why she'd direct such a film.

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<p>&nbsp;Justin Bieber and LMFAO may not share the stage again on New Year's Eve, but you never know...</p>

 Justin Bieber and LMFAO may not share the stage again on New Year's Eve, but you never know...

Credit: AP Photo

Hitfix's New Year's Eve musical guide featuring Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and more

Plus, where can you find Coldplay, Drake, and Blake Shelton?

Repeat after me: There is no shame in staying home on New Year’s Eve. There is no shame in staying home on New Year’s Eve.

If you are hanging at home as 2011 rolls over into 2012, here’s a list of artists you can see on various New Year’s Eve specials as the ball drops. By the way, did you know that Dick Clark started “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” in 1972 so that the crazy kids would have something to watch on TV besides bandleader Guy Lombardo’s Dec. 31 specials?  If none of these appeal, there’s always “The Walking Dead” marathon on AMC or perennial favorite the “Twilight Zone” marathon on Syfy. A number of the programs below break for local news from 11 p.m.-11:30 p.m.

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<p>James Dean in &quot;Giant,&quot;&nbsp;one of the films featured on the new poster for the 84th annual Academy Awards.</p>

James Dean in "Giant," one of the films featured on the new poster for the 84th annual Academy Awards.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

84th Oscars poster could have been better

Films like 'Gone with the Wind,' 'Forrest Gump' and 'Giant' are featured

Greg Ellwood over at Awards Campaign has already posted and criticized this year's official Oscar poster for being "instantly forgettable" and looking akin to "a home video cover for the best of an Oscar ceremony compilation."

I don't disagree with that. There have been some creative spins on this annual artwork over the years, but there has also always been that nagging flavor of conservative design holding things back. Still, what do you want from the Academy? All they're interested in is having a date and the Oscar as big as possible. Tune in. That's the message.

But I've been considering the film images chosen to accompany the big statue. Greg notes that "Giant" is out of place, because it's the only film featured that didn't win the Best Picture Oscar. The others are "Gone with the Wind," "Casablanca," "The Sound of Music," "The Godfather," "Driving Miss Daisy," "Forrest Gump" and "Gladiator."

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