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<p>&quot;True Romance&quot; alums Gary Oldman&nbsp;(left)&nbsp;and Brad&nbsp;Pitt mingle backstage at Monday's Nominees Luncheon.</p>

"True Romance" alums Gary Oldman (left) and Brad Pitt mingle backstage at Monday's Nominees Luncheon.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Pulling for you, Gary

'Tinker, Tailor' star Gary Oldman hits the circuit with the Best Actor field in flux

Gary Oldman is back in town and hitting the press rounds hard on behalf of his first-ever Oscar nomination for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." And though I'm fairly resigned to Jean Dujardin turning the trick with Oscar as he did with SAG, I can't help but wonder -- or perhaps merely hope -- if things are in such a state of flux within the Best Actor category that a guy like Oldman has a decent shot.

Roth's piece on Brad Pitt's press rounds and a window of opportunity in the field was fair enough as it pertains to his chances. After all, Pitt's a big-time celebrity who doesn't rest on his laurels and is heavily involved, constructively, on the production side of things. And he turned out one of his best performances to date in "Moneyball."

But what about a guy like Oldman, who has worked with just about everyone in town and has been at the grind for decades? Not only is he a solid worker, but he offers up stunning portrayal after stunning portrayal, even in the most dubious of projects (many of which he's been forced to take on over the last 10 years or so).

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<p>Lady Gaga's &quot;Born This Way&quot;</p>

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way"

Predicting the 2012 Grammy Awards: Album of the Year

Is Adele a lock?

Album of the Year is the last award presented on the Grammy Awards telecast for good reason: it’s the fairest award of them all and the one that every artist dreams of winning  Here are the contenders for the 54th annual Grammy Awards, which will air Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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<p>Chris Pratt in &quot;Moneyball.&quot;</p>

Chris Pratt in "Moneyball."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Sound Mixing

'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Hugo,' 'Moneyball,' 'Transformers' and 'War Horse' face off

(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)

This year, the sound category nominations were the ones I found hardest to predict -- I went a paltry 1-for-5 in the Best Sound Mixing category -- and even with the field narrowed to five, I'm not finding the picture any clearer. Part of the reason for that is the unusual disparity between the Academy's picks and those of the Cinema Audio Society. For the first time since 1999, they agreed on only two nominees, both Best Picture contenders that aren't brash sonic showcases: "Hugo" and "Moneyball."

For the other slots, the Academy's sound branch set about rectifying some of the more surprising CAS omissions: the guild did well to recognize the sleekly pulsating "Hanna," but the Academy stuck with more typically large-scale fare for the category in the shape of "War Horse" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The final field is an eminently mainstream one, but pleasingly balanced between bombast and subtler notes.

The nominees are...

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<p>A detail from the offending campaign ad for Meryl Streep in &quot;The Iron Lady.&quot;</p>

A detail from the offending campaign ad for Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Round-up: Does Weinstein's Streep ad toe the line... or cross it?

Also: Daniel Radcliffe on Oscar snobbery, and the case for Viola Davis

Oh, it wouldn't be the final stretch  of Oscar voting without a minor kerfuffle over some or other campaign strategy. The people ruffling feathers this time, you'll be shocked to hear, are The Weinstein Company, whose latest campaign effort for Meryl Streep comes close to breaking a selection of finicky rules and regulations, but naturally has a secure loophole in place. The ad, emailed to Hollywood Reporter subscribers (and therefore not directly to the Academy, cleverly enough), makes a big deal of the two-time winner's 29-year Oscar drought, stepping on the toes of an Academy rule forbidding ads to mention past awards, and to "extol the merits of a film... or an individual." (Really? Don't all ads do that?) Several AMPAS voters have felt moved to complain, but I don't see how this harmless stunt affects Streep's chances either way. [The Odds]

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<p>Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel in &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel in "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Landlord': Send me on my way

Jess, Nick and Schmidt all struggle to read signals in an uncomfortable episode

A quick review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I paint a sexually-charged zero gravity tea ceremony in my closet...

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<p>Mark Harmon and Muse Watson in the 200th episode of &quot;NCIS.&quot;</p>

Mark Harmon and Muse Watson in the 200th episode of "NCIS."

Credit: CBS

'NCIS' - 'Life Before His Eyes': It's a wonderful life, Gibbs

In the series' 200th episode, Gibbs gets to explore paths untaken

I don't write about "NCIS" all that often because, as entertaining as it is, it doesn't particularly lend itself to episode-by-episode analysis. But I thought the occasion of its 200th episode last night merited attention, and I have a few thoughts on "Life Before His Eyes" coming up just as soon as we combine our snooping...

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<p>Amber (Mae Whitman)&nbsp;got a &quot;Parenthood&quot;&nbsp;promotion.</p>

Amber (Mae Whitman) got a "Parenthood" promotion.

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Politics': Moving out and moving in

Amber gets a promotion, Dr. Joe finds a house and Zoe makes a change

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I train for a year to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro...

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<p>Gary Oldman talks &quot;Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy&quot; and his nomination for best actor at this year's 84th Annual Academy Awards.</p>

Gary Oldman talks "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and his nomination for best actor at this year's 84th Annual Academy Awards.

Gary Oldman on the honor of the Everest of Oscar, BAFTA and getting flowers from Tom Cruise

Which of the best actor nominees would let go of the Oscar first?

The Oscar nominations featured surprises that both enraged and excited film lovers around the world, but one nod that had Hollywood and moviegoers jumping for joy was the inclusion of Gary Oldman amongst the best actor field.  It's the first Academy Award nomination for an actor who should have found himself invited to the Kodak Theater long ago after stellar performances in films such as "The Contender," "JFK," "The Professional" and "Prick Up Your Ears."  I've been a fan of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" since screening it in September and if the film couldn't crack the best picture field Oldman's recognition was the next best thing.

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<p>A&nbsp;scene from&nbsp;&quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes&quot;</p>

A scene from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Rango,' 'Apes' and 'Transformers' dominate the 10th annual Visual Effects Society Awards

A big night for ILM as 'Tintin' gets shut out after leading the field of nominees

It was a good night for Industrial Light & Magic at the 10th annual Visual Effects Society Awards, which were presented this evening. The company's work in films like "Rango" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" dominated the proceedings, the former surprisingly sweeping the animated categories.

Why is it surprising? Well, you might recall that "The Adventures of Tintin" led the way with nominations from the Society, including three nods in the category of Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture. I thought that was fantastic, as it's a hybrid media film with stellar effects from Weta Digital that should have been in the mix at the Oscars, too. Alas, the film didn't even make the Academy's bake-off list. It didn't even make the longlist of 15 titles. And tonight, "Rango" pretty much ate its lunch, winning four awards. Steven Spielberg's film turned out zero wins off of six nominations. Ouch.

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<p>Ray Park's Darth Maul remains one of the most distinct pleasures you can take from a viewing of 'The Phantom Menace' in 3D</p>

Ray Park's Darth Maul remains one of the most distinct pleasures you can take from a viewing of 'The Phantom Menace' in 3D

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Review: Film Nerd 2.0 gets a sneak peek at 'Star Wars: The Phantom Menace' in 3D

Spoiler alert: one of us loved it

Well, it's still "The Phantom Menace."

That's pretty much all the review that matters.  Either you're okay going to see the first chapter of the "Star Wars" prequels, released to such heated response in 1999, or you're not.  The only new thing I can discuss is the 3D post-conversion, and that's another topic where it feels like everyone already knows their opinion about it before I say a word.

We're going to have some more content related to this re-release of the 1999 film this week, and all of it is going to be related to our Film Nerd 2.0 column.  After all, if we hadn't watched the movies for the column last year, and if Toshi hadn't started doing interviews for the column, there's a chance none of what happened last week would have happened.

Remember… I spent over a decade officially Banned From The Ranch.  While it upset me at first, it eventually just became a funny story, a battle scar from my long time writing about films online.  The short version of the story is that I learned about the banning in early 2000, when Harry and I were in San Francisco for a screening event, and we got invited out to Skywalker Ranch for a tour.  When we submitted names, everyone was cleared except me, and they explained that it was because I had reviewed the script for "The Phantom Menace" a year earlier.  Once that was established, I had to accept it, and I just resigned myself to never visiting the property or even being allowed to visit ILM's facility at the Presidio.

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<p>A scene from international competition winner &quot;Free&nbsp;Men&quot;</p>

A scene from international competition winner "Free Men"

Credit: Pyramide Productions

Santa Barbara fest announces jury winners

Traversing documentary, independent and international film

The winners of the 27th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival were announced yesterday, celebrating unique short-form, international, documentary and narrative film.

Kris participated in the jury alongside actor/comedian Dave Koechner, actor/director Brad Hall, actor/writer W. Earl Brown, actor Anthony Zerbe and his wife Arnette Zerbe, SBIFF originator Phyllis de Picciotto, director Glenn Jordan, actor Tim Matheson and writer/ director Perry Lang.

“Each year, SBIFF strives to feature film from all ranges of the ‘cine-spectrum,'" SBIFF executive Roger Durling said in the press release. "Successfully building upon this tradition of excellence, the lineup for the 27th edition of the festival showcased a particularly captivating yet challenging collection of works."

Of the hundreds screened, the following were the offerings that were collectively deemed outstanding in their given category...

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Train rolls on with new album, 'California 37'

Train rolls on with new album, 'California 37'

Set kicks off with first single, 'Drive By'

Rock group Train is keeping up the Golden State theme. Following 2009’s multi-platinum “Save Me, San Francisco,” the band returns with “California 37” on April 17.

The album, as well as first single, the infectious “Drive By,” was produced in San Francisco and Los Angeles with Butch Walker and Espionage. The tune has skyrocketed up the charts and is already at No. 17 on the adult top 40.

[More after the jump...]

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