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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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<p>Melissa McCarthy is crowned best actress in a comedy queen at the 2011 Emmy Awards. &nbsp;Will McCarthy find the same amount of love from SAG&nbsp;voters?</p>

Melissa McCarthy is crowned best actress in a comedy queen at the 2011 Emmy Awards.  Will McCarthy find the same amount of love from SAG voters?

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

2012 SAG Nominations: 10 things you should look for

What surprises are on deck from Hollywood's thespians?

Early tomorrow morning the Screen Actor's Guild will get a jump on the HFPA and announce the nominees for the 2012 SAG Awards.  Unlike the Golden Globes, the SAGs are held in much higher esteem by most actors because they are being honored by their peers.  Of course, with such a large group of voters on the nominating committee(4,200 randomly selected members) you're bound to get a few strange nods here and there.  Moreover, as the largest branch in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, how the actors (er, SAG) falls is generally (but not always) a good indicator of where the Academy Award nominations will land.  That being said, before you get up bright and early to hear Regina King and Judy Greer announce this year's nods, keep these 10 things in mind.

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<p>Seth Rogen in &quot;50/50.&quot; </p>

Seth Rogen in "50/50."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Seth Rogen will be both host and nominee at the Film Independent Spirit Awards

What did he learn from Franco's dual role at the Oscars?

In an interesting turn of events, Seth Rogen (who just last month indicated that he would have no interest in following his friend James Franco’s lead to one day host the Oscars) is set to host the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The 27th annual ceremony will again be held as a daytime luncheon in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica on Saturday, February 25 and will air later that evening at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.

Rogen’s own film, “50/50,” is well-represented with nominations for Best Feature, Anjelica Huston for Best Supporting Female, and Will Reiser for Best First Screenplay. The actor co-produced and co-stars (indirectly as himself) in the film alongside indie (and now big budget) favorite Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So, Rogen is indeed taking a feather from Franco’s cap in that there is the potential for him to walk away as both host and honoree should “50/50” secure the Best Feature win.

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<p>Mumford &amp; Sons</p>

Mumford & Sons

Credit: Katie Hasty

Mumford & Sons talk second album

You won't believe whom they compare themselves to

Describing it as “kind of Black Sabbath meets Nick Drake,” the members of Mumford & Sons says their second album will build on the musical tone set on 2010’s “Sigh No More.”

 "[It's] certainly more mature, I’d say," bassist Ted Dwane told Rolling Stone.  says. "The second record is just a reflection of our mindsets, where we’re all at. It’s doom folk.

The multiple Grammy nominees, including for record and song of the year, just finished their last show of the year on Sunday at KROQ’s Acoustic Christmas in Los Angeles.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Melissa McCarthy in &quot;Bridesmaids&quot;</p>

Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Las Vegas critics spring for 'The Artist,' Melissa McCarthy

Meanwhile, Nicolas Winding Refn gets his first critics award of the year

The Las Vegas Film Critics Society dished out their kudos today, and they fell right in line. "We'll take 'The Artist,' please."

More interesting is their choice for Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn for "Drive." As noted in today's Off the Carpet column, it's intriguing how much staying power the film has this season. Maybe it can parlay some of these notices into more serious Academy consideration, but it'll take some more campaign wind in the sails.

Elsewhere, Melissa McCarthy nabbed yet another Best Supporting Actress prize for "Bridesmaids," and I just don't get it. But congratulations to her. It's a real coming out this year and maybe -- given how rocky the category is -- she can manage an Oscar nomination when all is said and done. I'm sure Zach Galifianakis is wondering if he was chopped liver two years ago.

Check out the full list of winners from Vegas below. (And always bet on black.)

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<p>Jeremy and Sandy of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Jeremy and Sandy of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Jeremy & Sandy talk 'The Amazing Race'

The season's second place team isn't down in The Dump
Who would have guessed that Atlanta would have two landmarks known as "The Dump"?
The first version of The Dump is the former residence of Margaret Mitchell, where she wrote "Gone with the Wind."
The second version of The Dump is a really big furniture warehouse.
Geographically, the two Dumps are separated by only a few miles, but for Jeremy Cline and Sandy Draghi, the distance can be measured monetarily as the difference between the million dollar "Amazing Race" first prize and whatever the show awards for second. 
It wasn't Jeremy & Sandy's fault, per se. The dating couple had a solid lead on the last leg of "The Amazing Race" and they simply asked a couple Atlanta natives to help them find The Dump. The helpful strangers sounded certain and their directions were helpful in getting the Racers to the furniture store. Unfortunately, that wasn't the right Dump. 
That marked a disappointing end for a team that started the Race prone to bickering, but grew stronger and more consistent as the Race progressed.
In their "Amazing Race" exit interview, Jeremy & Sandy discuss Dumps, Snowboarders and inadvertently helping the other two Finalists in Panama City.
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Credit: AP Photo

Garbage sets first dates of 2012 world tour, finishes first album in since 2005

When will the Shirley Manson-led band land in the U.S.?

Garbage’s reunion is definitely a reality. The Shirley Manson-led band has announced the first two dates of their 2012 world tour. The quartet, whose last release was 2005’s “Bleed Like Me,” will start their global jaunt in Russia in St. Petersburg on May 11, followed by Moscow on May. 12.

In a note on their Facebook page, the band members wrote in a post entitled “Buckle up and away we go: All aboard”:

"We are beyond thrilled to revisit Russia where we have played to incredible and memorable crowds over the years, where we have seen so many wonderous things and met so many lovely fans.
These are the first dates to be confirmed on our world tour of 2012 but we rush to assure Garbage fans all over the world that there are many more dates yet to be announced. Stay tuned. We will announce them here as soon as they are confirmed.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support. It is the outpouring of such incredible enthusiasm that propelled us to make this new record and to get back out on the road to play for you all again.”

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<p>Cover of &quot;We Need to Talk About Kevin&quot;&nbsp;by Lionel&nbsp;Shriver</p>

Cover of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

Credit: Harper Perennial

Contest: Win the source novels of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' and 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close'

Make your case for a child actor this season and win

Alright, I'm pushing through these this week, so we're calling it on yesterday's limerick contest. Congratulations to JOHN G who wins our screenplay giveaway. John, if you're reading, please drop me a line with your address so we can get you your prizes. (And SHARKMAN, you were one of the "Rango" winners, so do the same so I can mail yours out, too.)

Moving right along, I have a pair of books -- source material for two of the season's contenders: Lionel Shriver's "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and Jonathan Foer's "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close." On the surface, these two stories have absolutely nothing in common. But both film adaptations feature strong young actor performances (from Ezra Miller and Thomas Horn, respectively), so I'll use that as a spring board.

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<p>&nbsp;Seth Rogen</p>

 Seth Rogen

Credit: AP Photo

Seth Rogen to host Independent Spirit Awards

Producer-star's '50/50' also nominated for best feature

Funnyman Seth Rogen will host the 27th annual Independent Spirits Awards next year, lending his brand of smart-stoner sass to the proceedings.

He'll also have an interest in the show's results; Rogen co-produced and starred in this year's "50/50," with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which is up for multiple Spirit Awards including Best Feature. Also nominated in that category are the films "Drive," "The Descendants," "Take Shelter," "Beginners" and "The Artist."

He also recently co-starred in the Toronto Fest hit "Take This Waltz," with Michelle Williams.

Rogen, whose first break was on TV's "Freaks and Geeks," has been everywhere in the last few years, and may be best known for his handful of films with "Freaks" producer Judd Apatow, including "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Superbad," "Knocked Up" and "Funny People." 

“We’re incredibly excited to have Seth as the host for the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards and join us in celebrating this year’s exquisite films and talented filmmaking artists. Seth’s charm, intelligence and quick wit are sure to light up the room and will make for a truly entertaining afternoon,” said Film Independent's Sean Mc Manus in a release.

The 27th annual awards ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, February 25, and will air that evening at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on IFC. 

Rogen's pal and frequent co-star James Franco did a less-than-stellar job of co-hosting the Oscars last year with Anne Hathaway, but we can assume that The Spirits and Rogen are a better match. 

Last year's Spirit Awards show was hosted by "Community: star Joel McHale. Previous hosts have included Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, Rainn Wilson, Samuel L. Jackson, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Tilly, Sarah Silverman and frequent host John Waters.

Do you think Rogen's a good choice to host?

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<p>Louis CK in &quot;Louie.&quot;</p>

Louis CK in "Louie."

Credit: FX

TV Top 10 of 2011: The best 10 (or 11) overall shows

A strong year for veteran series like 'Breaking Bad,' 'Louie' and 'Parks and Recreation'

It's that time of year, everybody, where critics of every stripe have to break down the best things they covered over the last 12 months into a list of 10 (or thereabouts). Eventually, all the members of Team HitFix will be rolling out his or her top 10 list, but I get to be first up at bat this year. (Katie Hasty should be up next with some thoughts on the year in music.)

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<p>Nicolas Winding&nbsp;Refn's &quot;Drive&quot; is showing remarkable staying power throughout the precursor circuit.</p>

Nicolas Winding Refn's "Drive" is showing remarkable staying power throughout the precursor circuit.

Credit: FilmDistrict

Off the Carpet: Against the grain of dystopic claims

'Drive,' 'The Tree of Life' and Tilda Swinton stand out amid predictable precursors

It's an odd time of year. There is a film, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," that has very little hope of securing Oscar consideration and that I can now talk about. But I have nothing to say other than to offer that, in my opinion, it is director David Fincher's least compelling, most superficial film to date, practice, a craftsman staying in shape with material utterly beneath him and his boredom with it (or was it mine?) showing like the slip of a dress.

Meanwhile, there is another movie, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," that has plenty of potential in the Oscar race and that I cannot talk about.

So what do we talk about? The critics? There's nothing really left to say. The last film I screened in 2011, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol?" It's fun and has great sound design (and good GAWD, Paula Patton is God's gift). This morning's BFCA announcement? It was one of the most vanilla, Oscar-forecasting collectives the group has ever managed to cough up.

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<p>Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in &quot;A Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein in "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Interview: Keira Knightley on pushing herself (and pulling it back) in 'A Dangerous Method'

The British actress tells us why she's drawn to characters she doesn't understand

In the last year or so, I’ve seen Keira Knightley withering away on a hospital bed as her inorganic organs are removed and farmed out, moodily chain-smoking in an icy Manhattan loft as she contemplates her husband’s infidelity, stridently slamming doors on a West End stage as her life is undone by malicious rumors about her sexuality, and most recently, getting the life spanked out of her by Carl Jung as he attempts to cure her of crippling hysteria.

It has, in short, been a rather intense time for Knightley in the fictional realm, so it’s a relief, not to mention an irrational surprise, when the young Londoner answers the phone with the perkiest of hellos. It swiftly becomes difficult to reconcile the fast-talking, warmly enthusiastic person on the line – the word “incredible” pops up with endearing frequency throughout our chat – with the prickly, often unhappy women she’s lately brought to life on screen (and, in a superb London revival of Lillian Hellman’s “The Children’s Hour” last spring, on stage too).

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