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HitFix's final 86th Academy Awards predictions

HitFix's final 86th Academy Awards predictions

Who will get bragging rights Monday morning?

It's time to put up or shut up. After months and months and months of campaigning, stretching as far back as Cannes 2013 (or maybe even Sundance?), the Oscar season is finally drawing to a close.

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<p>Steve McQueen and the production team of &quot;12 Years a Slave&quot; at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards</p>

Steve McQueen and the production team of "12 Years a Slave" at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards

Credit: AP Photo

'12 Years a Slave' leads Independent Spirit Awards winners

Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto pick up acting awards

The 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards found a place in the sun away from (most of) the rain for a few hours Saturday afternoon. "12 Years a Slave" led the pack, picking up five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The film could take the industry's top prize at the Oscars Sunday night.

Acting winners included Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for their work in "Dallas Buyers Club," supporting actress Lupita Nyong'o for "12 Years a Slave," and Cate Blachett for best actress in "Blue Jasmine."

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<p>Schoolboy Q</p>

Schoolboy Q

Credit: Interscope

Schoolboy Q goes to the head of the class on next week's album chart

'Oxymoron' is one of six debuts on the Billboard 200

It’s a huge week for debuts as up to six albums will bow in the Billboard 200 next week following the busiest release week of 2014 so far.

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<p>Mads Mikkelsen of &quot;Hannibal&quot;</p>

Mads Mikkelsen of "Hannibal"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Shark Tank,' 'Blue Bloods' lead Friday, while 'Hannibal' premieres low

'Enlisted' equals recent repeats for FOX

Fast National ratings for Friday, February 28, 2014.

After three weeks of NBC Olympics dominance, "Shark Tank" and "Blue Bloods"  put ABC and CBS back in their normal positions atop primetime in young viewers and overall. 

In its first Friday airing, NBC's "Hannibal" outdrew its Thursday episodes from the summer, but its premiere numbers weren't appreciably different from recent "Dracula" performances in the same time period.

Meanwhile, "Enlisted" failed to get any post-Olympics bump and an original did the same numbers as recent encore for FOX. Having a lead-in might have helped.

On to the numbers...

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Report: Teresa & Joe Giudice will plead guilty to federal fraud charges and go to prison

Report: Teresa & Joe Giudice will plead guilty to federal fraud charges and go to prison
The Bravo “Real Housewives” stars have reached a plea deal that would put Teresa behind bars for less than two years and her husband in prison for a minimum three years, according to the Bergen Record.


Warner Bros. posts the first 2 minutes of the “Veronica Mars” movie online
The opening of the film is mostly a rehash for new viewers.


Joan Rivers gets cake in the face
The E! star was at a pre-Oscar bash when she was smothered with cake, but was it a publicity stunt?


Watch Jimmy Kimmel’s fake post-Oscar film trailer with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks
Chris Hemsworth also appears in the 30-second promo.


Dean Winters joins Vince Gilligan’s “Battle Creek”
He’ll play an FBI agent on the detective drama pilot that also stars Kal Penn and Janet McTeer.

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<p>Looks like an Oscars promo picture doesn&#39;t it?&nbsp; Nope, these three represent likely winners at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards.</p>

Looks like an Oscars promo picture doesn't it?  Nope, these three represent likely winners at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards.

2014 Independent Spirit Awards predictions

Is Brad PItt going to win an Indie Spirit Award?

It may be raining. It may be chilly. One thing is for sure, the drinks will be flowing and the giant tent that is the annual home for the Independent Spirit Awards will be buzzing.

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<p>Never let go.</p>

Never let go.

Credit: Warner Bros.

On Oscars and the personal gravity of art

With the industry's world stage on the horizon, just something from the heart

When you have passion for movies but find yourself covering the circus that is the Oscar race every year, you're constantly searching out that zen patch of land, away from, maybe even above, the fray.

There are a couple of things I've asserted in all my years of doing this. "No one needs awards coverage this deep," as quoted by New York Magazine in an article last week, is one. "Don't take this too seriously" is another. On the latter, I can't really force that stance on anyone, nor should I. If you want to take the Oscars seriously, as something indicative of greater truth, as something — because of the show's position on the "world stage" — with the potential of illuminating the human condition, or the milestones of artistic history, that's fine. I leave that in the hands of the artists and the art, not the voters and the contest.

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<p>Jeff Probst snuffs David Samson&#39;s torch on &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Jeff Probst snuffs David Samson's torch on "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Marlins President David Samson talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

Early Brains leader discusses his choices and a fantasy baseball sleeper

I wanted David Samson to stick around on "Survivor: Cagayan" until May. I had Miami Marlins-based humor to scatter through my recaps for months. 

Unfortunately, it was not to be. The President of the Marlins, a position he has held in good years (a 2003 World Series title) and bad (lots of those other years) since 2002, David made his first "Survivor" mistake before his tribe ever made it to camp.

Put on the spot in the opening seconds of the season, the Brains tribe selected Samson as their leader and, seconds later, Samson selected six-pack-wielding poker player Garrett as the tribe's weak link. At the time, he said it was a 39 Day "Survivor" Strategy, targeting an obvious threat. In his exit interview this week, David offers other explanations. 

See, David made an unfortunate enemy with that decision and after the Brains tribe went down in defeat at the first Immunity Challenge, Garrett targeted David and successfully evicted him from the game. Garrett, of course, was blindsided at the next Tribal, so there are no winners here.

In his exit interview, David discusses the problems with a Brains tribe, the problem with his specific Brains tribe and how he could have been clearer about the Garrett decision. We also talk lots of baseball including how he would have liked to trade Garrett to another tribe and which Florida Marlin would be a good sleeper for your fantasy baseball team this year.

Click through for the full interview...

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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Picture - Is it really a two-horse race or will something shock the world?

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Picture - Is it really a two-horse race or will something shock the world?

'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' do battle while others look for an inside track

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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<p>In the &quot;Hannibal&quot; season premiere, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) adjusts to life behind bars.</p>

In the "Hannibal" season premiere, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) adjusts to life behind bars.

Credit: NBC

Season premiere review: 'Hannibal' - 'Kaiseki'

Dr. Lecter and Will Graham trade places, to the discomfort of all involved

"Hannibal" is back for a second season. I posted an advance review yesterday, and I have some thoughts on the season premiere coming up just as soon as the light from friendship won't reach us for a million years...

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<p>Contrary to how it felt watching the movie, there are actual moments where Diogo Morgado does not smile in &#39;Son Of God&#39;</p>

Contrary to how it felt watching the movie, there are actual moments where Diogo Morgado does not smile in 'Son Of God'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'Son Of God' is all mini-series left-overs and no miracle

It's the ultimate Teflon treatment of the Greatest Story Ever Told

As the news broke this week that Paul Greengrass is interested in finding a way to bring "Zealot" the bigscreen, it made me sad that we still haven't seen Paul Verhoeven's proposed movie about the historical Jesus Christ. It's a subject Verhoeven's been studying for decades now, and I have to imagine he would bring a real breadth of knowledge to his approach. Like Verhoeven, I would assume Greengrass is going to try to dig deep to show us something we haven't already seen from this story.

Any time a filmmaker tries to tackle a subject as big and vague as "Jesus" for a movie, you're going to learn a lot about the filmmaker from the final product. However, Christopher Spencer has put that theory of mine to the test by turning in a genuinely bland and forgettable picture here, about as middle-of-the-road as a movie can be.

I have no doubt the film will do big business this weekend. It's a perfect film for the faith-based audience to get behind, because there is no chance this movie will rile or upset anyone from that audience. Diogo Morgado stars as Smilin' Jesus, and the emphasis seems to be on how Jesus built his following, with a fair amount of energy spent on the early miracles he performed, none of which come across as particularly miraculous or convincing.

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<p>She&#39;s all grown up: Kristen Bell as she&#39;ll appear in the &quot;Veronica Mars&quot; movie.</p>

She's all grown up: Kristen Bell as she'll appear in the "Veronica Mars" movie.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch the first two minutes of the ‘Veronica Mars’ movie

A quick reminder of what Veronica went through on her TV show

The "Veronica Mars" movie doesn't arrive in theaters for another two weeks — and will be simultaneously available via various digital and On Demand platforms, in addition to all the Kickstarter backers who paid $35 or more getting their own copy of the film on March 14 — and to continue priming the audience, Warner Bros. has put the first two minutes of the film online.

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