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<p>Christopher Plummer</p>

Christopher Plummer

Credit: AP Photo/Focus Feature

Santa Barbara fest selects Christopher Plummer for Modern Master Award

The actor follows up SAG and Globe nominations with the festival's highest honor

Christopher Plummer is easily one of the most well-known and respected actors of our time. He is also an incredibly active 82-year-old man with a schedule to rival that of Clint Eastwood’s: He's completing press rounds for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” can be seen in the film version of his one-man show “Barrymore,” is developing another one-man show, "A Word or Two," and has settled in as the frontrunner for the Best Support Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a widower who comes out of the closet in the later part of his life in Mike Mills’s “Beginners.”

Plumber just received Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his work in the film, among other kudos, and has now added anoter feather to his pre-Oscar cap. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has announced that Plumber will receive the Modern Master Award at this year's festival. SBIFF describes the award as its highest honor, created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through his/her multi-faceted accomplishments in the industry.

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<p>Hunter McCracken, disavowed almost entirely by the 2011-2012 awards circuit, in &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Hunter McCracken, disavowed almost entirely by the 2011-2012 awards circuit, in "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Tree of Life' leads Chicago film critics nods

And someone finally throws Hunter McCracken a bone

Another day, another list of film critics groups dishing out their year-end kudos. This will continue on for a few weeks, but the Chicago Film Critics Association announced its nominees today, and something in the mix got me thinking: Where's the love for Hunter McCracken this season?

The young star of "The Tree of Life" picked up a notice from the Chicago crowd for Most Promising Performer, and if you can believe it, it's only the first time he's been mentioned in an awards capacity this season. The first time! Though please correct me if I'm wrong.

This is stunning to me. I think the kid is good enough to warrant Best Actor attention, as you know, but he hasn't even shown up in the various youth performance categories. I was most disheartened to see that he didn't even land in the BFCA's Best Young Actor/Actress category. He deserved to be in over every other nominee in that field, but at LEAST he should have been in over Asa Butterfield, who is kind of all over the place in "Hugo."

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<p>George Clooney in &quot;The&nbsp;Descendants&quot;</p>

George Clooney in "The Descendants"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Dallas-Fort Worth critics REALLY like 'The Descendants'

The film has won five awards from the group

The Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association has picked its jumped into the fray with a list of winners and it's rather clear they kind of had a thing for Alexander Payne's "The Descendants." The film won awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay. Check out the full list below.

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<p>William Joyce is imagining a new relationship between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and more in his multi-media project that kicks off in movie theaters next year with 'Rise Of The Guardians'</p>

William Joyce is imagining a new relationship between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and more in his multi-media project that kicks off in movie theaters next year with 'Rise Of The Guardians'

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

We sit down with William Joyce for a first look at 'Rise Of The Guardians'

Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman are coming next year

It's strange when you realize that the people who you flip out about meeting are rarely the ones you expect will make you have that reaction.  I've met people whose work has been important to me my whole life and handled it with relative grace and calm, and then I've also met a few people who rattled me face-to-face simply because I didn't understand quite how significant their work is to me.

William Joyce is one of those people.

I love reading to my kids, and the books that end up in the constant rotation, the ones that we come back to over and over again, are the ones where the art and the prose are both approached with care and with soul.  We've sampled books from dozens if not hundreds of authors, and there are certain guys who went right to the top of the permanent pile as soon as we read the books for the first time, and an uncommon number of those books were written and illustrated by William Joyce.

They are gorgeous, designed and painted with delicate wit and a lush sense of imagination, books like "Bently and Egg" and "Buddy" and "Santa Calls" and "The Leaf Men," and he's the creator of the "Rolie Polie Olie" books and TV show.  His work has been a key part of films like "Meet The Robinsons" and "Robots," and he's just published two new books as part of what sounds like the biggest overall property of his career.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 74 -- LAFCA, SAG, Globes, 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Extremely Loud' and more

Oscar Talk: Ep. 74 -- LAFCA, SAG, Globes, 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'Extremely Loud' and more

Also: 'Bridesmaids' staying power and surprises so far

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.

After a break from our regularly scheduled programming last week for some top 10 shenanigans, it's back to business today. And there is PLENTY to talk about, with a wave of critics and precursor award announcements having sped through this week. Let's see what's on the docket today...

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<p>Carey Mulligan won&nbsp;Best&nbsp;Supporting Actress for &quot;Shame.&quot;</p>

Carey Mulligan won Best Supporting Actress for "Shame."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Detroit critics go with 'The Artist,' Fassbender

And Carey Mulligan wins a prize

The Detroit Film Critics Society has joined the chorus of superlatives for "The Artist," giving the film Best Picture and Best Director after it racked up five nominations from the group. "Take Shelter," which led the nominees, only won as part of Jessica Chastain's Breakthrough Artist award. Check out the full list of winners below.

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<p><span class="rg_ctlv">Leila Hatami in &quot;A&nbsp;Separation&quot;<br />
</span></p>

Leila Hatami in "A Separation"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Oscarweb Round-up: Ebert crowns 'A Separation'

Also: The year in debut directors and Stapleton on Corman

Guy recently called attention to top 10 season in a recent post. I tend to block all of that out until I finish my own year in review, and so now that I've done that (closing things down with the annual superlatives post later this morning), I've enjoyed perusing what other journalists and critics are chalking up as the year's best. Roger Ebert's list is always a good barometer of a certain demographic, I think, and its was nice to see that he recently tapped Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" as the year's best film. Not only that, but he made room for my #1, Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret," a little further down the list. I'm really hoping more and more critics are willing to go to bat for that one, but we'll see. [Chicago Sun-Times]

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<p>Kit Harington as Jon Snow in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Rookie watch: the best new TV shows of 2011

A few great newbies at the top, then a lot with obvious pluses and minuses
Welcome to the conclusion of my look back at the best shows of 2011. On Tuesday, I gave my list of the best 11 overall shows. On Wednesday, I did the best 10 returning shows.
 
Today was supposed to be a similar top 10 list of the best new shows of the year, but the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that there was a very large gap between the two that were already on the overall list - "Homeland" and "Game of Thrones" - and everything else. Of the other shows, some I liked parts of but not the whole, some I liked uniformly but didn't love, and all of them felt like they should be fighting it out for spots 7-10 on a list in a much deeper year.
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<p>Shailene Woodley has landed her first Golden Globe nomination this year for &quot;The Descendants.&quot;</p>

Shailene Woodley has landed her first Golden Globe nomination this year for "The Descendants."

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Golden Globes: 'The Descendants'' nominee Shailene Woodley feels every emotion rolled up into one

Plus: Producer Jim Burke on the film's awards season success

With "The Artist" breathing down its neck and buzz growing for "Hugo," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and "War Horse," the beginning of December wasn't the best of times for Team "Descendants."  The critically acclaimed film had lost both the best picture honors of the NYFCC and the National Board of Review and while box office was fantastic, best picture hopes were fading fast.  What a difference the last week has been.

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<p>Fee fi fo fum, I smell Nicholas Hoult starring in Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer'</p>

Fee fi fo fum, I smell Nicholas Hoult starring in Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer'

Credit: New Line/Legendary

Watch: First trailer for Bryan Singer's 'Jack The Giant Killer' is ambitious but uneven

Fingers crossed that this ends well, but the campaign's off to an odd start

I am dying to see how "Jack The Giant Killer" plays out next year, both as a movie and as a commercial release, because both things are important to the ongoing development of Bryan Singer as a filmmaker.

Creatively, I feel like Singer's one of the most successful guys working who doesn't really have what I can point at as a particular, recognizable voice, nor is there any special theme that runs through his work, aside from perhaps an odd preoccupation with Nazis.  And one could argue that his two biggest films were big because of a general interest in X-Men, not because of Singer.

He's also been one of those guys who has developed a number of fairly pricey films that haven't come to fruition, big movies like a "Logan's Run" remake or a "Battlestar Galactica" bigscreen reboot.  And his "Superman Returns" was a very very expensive almost, well-crafted but generally underwhelming.  He's in a position right now where he is still considered an A-list filmmaker, but it's about time he starts actually being that filmmaker.

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<p>Jeffrey Donovan and Kristanna Loken in &quot;Burn Notice.&quot;</p>

Jeffrey Donovan and Kristanna Loken in "Burn Notice."

Credit: USA

'Burn Notice' - 'Fail Safe': The things we do for love

The season climaxes with Michael and Anson trying to outmaneuver each other once again

"Burn Notice" just wrapped up its fifth season, and I have some thoughts on the finale and the current state of the show coming up just as soon as I'm smarter than a keypad...

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<p>Sweet Dee puts on her old back brace in the &quot;It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Sweet Dee puts on her old back brace in the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" season finale.

Credit: FX

Season finale review: 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

The gang wraps up a terrific seventh season with a two-tiered dance number

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" wrapped up its seventh season in style tonight, with the gang trying desperately to show up their tormentors at their high school reunion. The switch in perspective in the final scene was one of the biggest laughs the show gave me all year, and that's saying something, considering how strong this seventh season was. There was only one outright bad episode, "Frank's Brother," and even there I can respect that they were at least trying something different that didn't work. (That, or I can again note that Frank tends to be much more useful for generating stories than generating laughs.) 

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