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<p>&quot;The Descendants&quot; is realistically one of only two pictures - including &quot;The Artist&quot;&nbsp;- who can win best picture this year after landing an outstanding motion picture ensemble nomination.</p>

"The Descendants" is realistically one of only two pictures - including "The Artist" - who can win best picture this year after landing an outstanding motion picture ensemble nomination.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Analysis: SAG pushes 'The Artist' and 'Descendants' to the front of the Oscar race

No. 1 lesson: Don't screen late

In one respect the film nominations for the 2012 Screen Actor's Guild Awards were not that surprising.  They were broad.  They were populist.  And, for the most part, they didn't rock the boat.  Before we go through each category, however, there are some major lessons already being learned from today's results.

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<p>Even &quot;Suits&quot;&nbsp;co-star Patrick J. Adams may be puzzled by his SAG&nbsp;Awards nomination.</p>

Even "Suits" co-star Patrick J. Adams may be puzzled by his SAG Awards nomination.

Credit: USA

Analysis: SAG Awards TV nominations get weird with Patrick J. Adams and 'Dexter'

A field of nominees designed to make the Golden Globe picks look good?
Like the Golden Globe Awards, where the nominations will be announced tomorrow, the SAG Awards treat their TV categories like an afterthought. There are no supporting categories of any kind, for instance, and they mainly seem to exist to appease that branch of the Screen Actors Guild, and to possibly draw some extra audience to the telecast.
And like the Golden Globes are every year, this year's SAG nominations are so bizarre/stupid/silly that they're probably not worth getting worked up over...
... except I can't really wrap my brain around any of the following:
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<p>Demi&aacute;n Bichir landed an unexpected Best Actor SAG nod for &quot;A Better Life.&quot;</p>

Demián Bichir landed an unexpected Best Actor SAG nod for "A Better Life."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

'The Help' leads SAG nominations, Demián Bichir surprises in Best Actor

Prominent snubs for Fassbender, Theron, Brooks and Woodley

Things I correctly predicted in this morning's Screen Actors' Guild nominations list: "Midnight in Paris" and "Bridesmaids" landing nominations in an unusually comedy-heavy Best Ensemble slate; "The Help" coming out on top with four nominations, including (hurrah!) a supporting bid for multi-tasker Jessica Chastain; Glenn Close's ailing Best Actress campaign for "Albert Nobbs" getting a boost with recognition from her fellow actors; "The Descendants" breakout Shailene Woodley getting the cold shoulder in the supporting actress category; and "Young Adult," "Hugo," "War Horse" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" among the films frozen out entirely.

Things I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone else) did not predict: a Best Actor nomination for Mexican veteran character actor Demián Bichir, whose performance as a hard-up immigrant worker in Chris Weitz's indie "A Better Life" was praised to the skies by critics upon its release in June, but was widely considered to be a forgotten factor in the Oscar race. No more. By landing a nod ahead of more heavily buzzed dark horses, Michaels Fassbender and Shannon, Bichir is a new player to watch in a field that currently has only three surefire Oscar nominees. 

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<p>Rowan&nbsp;Atkinson in &quot;Johnny&nbsp;English Reborn,&quot;&nbsp;which was nominated for Best Song</p>

Rowan Atkinson in "Johnny English Reborn," which was nominated for Best Song

Credit: Universal Pictures

'The Artist' dominates Phoenix film critics nods

Say hello to your first critics awards notice, 'Johnny English Reborn'

The Phoenix Film Critics Society has announced a massive list of nominations in various categories, and as has become the trend, Michel Hazanavicius's "The Artist" led the way with 11 mentions. Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" wasn't far behind with 10. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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<p>A scene from&nbsp;Stanley&nbsp;Kubrick's &quot;Fear and Desire&quot;</p>

A scene from Stanley Kubrick's "Fear and Desire"

Credit: Joseph Burstyn

Oscarweb Round-up: Stanley Kubrick's 'Fear and Desire' to air on TCM tonight

Also: Close fading and what to look for in today's SAG announcement

Friendly reminder: Turner Classic Movies is going to air Stanley Kubrick's first film, "Fear and Desire," tonight at 8pm ET. I've actually never seen the film, despite Kubrick being my favorite filmmaker. I happened to see "Killer's Kiss" back in film school, a ratty video tape version (it's on the Blu-ray of "The Killing" now, though). But never this one. So you can bet I'll tune my DVR. Kubrick famously disowned the film after it was released and tried to ensure that no one would ever see it again by not re-releasing the print. Unbeknownst to him, Kodak had a policy of making an extra prints for their archives. That's the one that survives today. So, yay for Kodak. [Turner Classic Movies]

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<p>&quot;The&nbsp;Tree of Life&quot; continues an impressive precursor streak.</p>

"The Tree of Life" continues an impressive precursor streak.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Toronto critics tap 'Tree of Life,' Terrence Malick

Michael Shannon and Michelle Williams win top acting honors

One more before you shut out the lights. The Toronto Film Critics Association has named "The Tree of Life" the best film of the year. The film's director, Terrence Malick, was also awarded while "Take Shelter" won two acting honors. Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>Shailene Woodley won&nbsp;Best Supporting&nbsp;Actress for &quot;The&nbsp;Descendants.&quot;</p>

Shailene Woodley won Best Supporting Actress for "The Descendants."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'The Descendants' takes Best Picture from Houston critics

Nicolas Winding Refn takes down another prize as well

"The Descendants" has been crowned Best Picture with the Houston Film Critics Society. Nicholas Winding Refn received his second Best Director prize of the day (following an award from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society) and Michael Fassbender was recognized for "Shame." Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p>Angelina Jolie at the premiere of &quot;In the Land of Blood and Honey.&quot;</p>

Angelina Jolie at the premiere of "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostin

Angelina Jolie's directorial debut inspires praise and controversy

As the PGA announces plans to honor "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a Serb association calls for a ban

Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey” is stirring the initial rumblings of critical praise as well as a bit of controversy. The mix feels oddly fitting given the trajectory of the filmmaker's own relationship with the public.

Earlier this week producers were faced with a potential lawsuit from James Braddock, a Croatian author claiming that the script plagiarized his 2007 novel “The Soul Shattering.” He has since withdrawn his motion for a restraining order against the film.

Meanwhile, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today that the film will be honored with the 2012 Stanley Kramer Award at the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony. As the PGA explains it, the award was established in 2002 to honor a motion picture, producer or other individual whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion.

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"The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

 "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' - 'Law by Sheree'

Sheree gets her day in court - but will Phaedra be outsmarted?

For some reason, we're getting a Very Special Episode of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" on a Tuesday night, though this isn't actually a Very Special Episode for any other reason than yes, we're watching it on a Tuesday night. I was hoping for some big catfight or maybe Kim popping out a second baby she didn't realize was in there, but instead this is a fairly sedate episode, though I think it's safe to forecast some turbulent waters ahead, specifically for Sheree. 

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<p>Amber Riley of &quot;Glee&quot;</p>
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Amber Riley of "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Extraordinary Merry Christmas'

New Directions splits its attention during the holidays, and HitFix starts a tradition of its own
“Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you!” That line, sung by Bono in “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, has always bothered me. I’m sure it’s bothered a lot of you as well. I understand the meaning the song was probably going for, but it comes off completely condescending at best, and totally tone-deaf at worst. Is Bono sarcastically berating those who have the technology to listen to the song? Is he mocking those in Africa who might not get MTV, satellite radio, or Spotify? For reasons only Ryan Murphy can probably answer, New Directions sang this song, including that infamous line, AT A BUNCH OF HOMELESS PEOPLE TONIGHT. Essentially, New Directions said, “Look, you’re down and out, but at least you don’t live in Africa.” I think. I honestly don’t know. All I know is that when I heard, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you,” I heard “Glee” singing it at everyone no longer watching this program.
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<p>Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer in &quot;The Help,&quot; likely to receive a Best Ensemble SAG nomination tomorrow morning.</p>

Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer in "The Help," likely to receive a Best Ensemble SAG nomination tomorrow morning.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Share your SAG and Globe nominee predictions

The last major precursors of the year land in the next two days

It's been a pretty relentless week for precursor announcements, and we're not over the hump yet: tomorrow brings the Screen Actors' Guild nominations, Thursday the Golden Globe list, and then we can all go more or less into holiday mode until the other guilds reignite the conversation in January. (Well, out of loyalty, I must point out that the London Critics' Circle, of which I am a member, announce their nominations next week.)

Some of you have requested a space to offer your own predictions (or wishlists, as you prefer) for the SAG and Globe nominees; as always, we aim to please, so here it is. I've got the ball rolling with my own SAG predictions after the jump -- I haven't the energy to take on the Globes, but maybe I will tomorrow. I'm particularly intrigued to see how SAG fills out its ensemble category: they tend to veer between using it to honor genuine ensemble pieces and lazily checking off supposed Best Picture frontrunners, regardless of the ensemble quality. Will "Hugo" and "War Horse" feature, despite not being major acting showcases? We'll see. Either way, I expect "The Help" to have a good morning. How about you?

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<p>Jason Reitman, Charlize Theron, Diablo Cody and Patton Oswalt at the New York premiere of &quot;Young Adult.&quot;</p>

Jason Reitman, Charlize Theron, Diablo Cody and Patton Oswalt at the New York premiere of "Young Adult."

Credit: AP Photo/Dave Allocca

'Young Adult' to receive Vanguard Award at Palm Springs fest

Award honors contribution of film's creative ensemble

We've written before about how the Palm Springs International Film Festival tends to stick very closely to the presumed template of surefire Oscar contenders when picking their honorees. So they've at least gone slightly out on a limb by handing their Vanguard Award for "outstanding creative ensemble" to Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" -- a film already on the fringes in the three awards categories it's aiming for, and one far outside the Best Picture conversation. Reitman took the same award four years ago for a far more broadly popular film, "Juno"; "Little Miss Sunshine" is another previous winner.

I'm not sure how exactly the festival organizers define "creative ensemble," though I do hope the award covers more than just the director, writer and two principals. There's smart supporting work, for example, from Elizabeth Reaser as the homely, unwitting romantic rival of Charlize Theron's protagonist; on the technical front, as I wrote yesterday on the category's Contenders page, the elegantly character-defining costumes by David C. Robinson are thoroughly worthy of recognition.

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