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<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

2014 Grammy Predictions: Album of the Year

Will a rap album finally snag the biggest prize?

As we get closer to the Sunday’s Grammy Awards, we’re making our predictions in the Big Four categories: Record, album, song of the year and best new artist.

Yesterday, we tackled Record of the Year. Today, we look at the award artists covet the most: Album of the Year.

This year’s nominees are:

“The Blessed Unrest,” Sara Bareilles
“Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk
“Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” Kendrick Lamar
“The Heist,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
“Red,” Taylor Swift


It’s a weird grab bag competing in this category this year. No one, and I mean no one, predicted that Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” would grab one of the 5 spots, and albums that seemed like good bets, such as Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” were left by the wayside. No rap album has ever won in this category, but if one were to grab the brass ring this year, I’d give the nod to “The Heist” over “Good Kid,” simply because of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ broader audience. Bareilles could come in and grab the award, especially if folks like the idea of voting for a total underdog, a talented one, but an underdog none the less. Daft Punk won’t win on the basis of one song, “Get Lucky.” Swift won before in 2010 for “Fearless.”  Given that she will draw from both pop and country voters, I think she’ll win again.

Should Win: “The Heist”
Will Win: Taylor Swift


Who do you think will take home Album of the Year?

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<p>Justin&nbsp;Timberlake</p>

Justin Timberlake

Credit: John Shearer/Invision/AP

Justin Timberlake delivers a TKO at The Forum despite horrible sound

He proves again why he's the ultimate entertainer

LOS ANGELES—To all the performers who justify lip-syncing because they are so breathless from dancing, we have one name for you: Justin Timberlake.

For nearly 3 hours last night at the re-opened Forum here, he proved he is a true song-and-dance man, as the agile entertainer was a perpetual man in motion for the entire show.  While ably assisted by four strong back-up singers who did some of the heavy lifting during certain songs and some judiciously placed backing vocals, for the most part, Timberlake sang live throughout the evening. What a concept…

Dressed in a white tux, he spanned his entire post- ’N Sync career, but focused, as one would imagine, the bulk of the show on songs from both volumes of  “The 20/20 Experience,” last year’s top selling release.

The issue with many of the songs on the two albums—the lack of identifiable hooky choruses —was amplified in concert as many of the songs indistinguishably segued from one into one another. Timberlake clearly designed a show to shift effortlessly between songs, but the absence of clearly defined melodies in some cases just meant masses of music that were no different from the song coming before it or after, unified by a repetitive throbbing beat.

Timberlake was also plagued by atrocious sound, especially for the first half of the concert. The Forum reopened last week after a $100 million renovation. The Eagles, who are playing six shows here as part of the rebranding, showed that for clear voices, harmonies, and acoustic instrumentation (with some electric guitar and bass thrown in), the acoustics are great. But the sound system was not prepared for what Timberlake’s band of 15, JT and the Tennessee Kids, threw at it and the bass-heavy beats echoed off the low ceiling throughout the evening in ways that were both earsplittingly painful and distracting. But worst of all, they often so overshadowed Timberlake’s vocals as to drown him out almost entirely.  Even on songs that were meant to be softer and toned down, such as the excellent “Drink You Away,” which he performed surrounded in a semi-circle by his band, suffered from over amplification.

When he was audible, such as on “My Love” or a pumped-up “Cry Me A River,” he sounded great, ably shifting from his normal voice to his instantly-recognizable falsetto effortlessly.

The production values were state-of-the art. A huge white honeycomb-patterned screen filled the entire back of the stage, leaving no room for the jumbotrons that usually flank the stage). Throughout the night different images were projected on the screen, including close ups and video pieces for a constant barrage. About a third of the way into the second half, Timberlake and his four backup singers rose high above the audience on a plank from the stage that transported them to the back the arena. While artists flying over the crowds in buckets or bridges is almost commonplace in big arena shows now, the lighted up plank, with stairs reaching out on the sides, was far more elaborate than usual. Timberlake  and the singers spent more than half an house on the plank dancing and singing before coming down to a stage in the back of the house where he performed a choice cover of “Heartbreak Hotel,” by fellow Memphis son Elvis Presley, and “Human Nature,” by his hero, Michael Jackson.

There’s nothing Timberlake doesn’t do well and to watch him sing full out after dancing a complicated routine time and time again was a tribute to his professionalism, talent, and hard work. And he seemingly did it all without ever breaking a sweat…and in a cummerbund.

By the time he closed the show with a gorgeous version of “Mirrors,” he still had enough gas in the tank to deliver a heart-felt energetic take on the best song from “The 20/20 Experience Vol 1.”

While all the bells and whistles may play to the back row, Timberlake is an artist who truly doesn’t need any of that, which is what makes him such an exceptional entertainer. It’s a shame that a muddy sound mix prevented him from being heard at his best.
 

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Rashida Jones to star in 'Tribeca,' a TBS cop comedy pilot from Steve Carell


Rashida Jones to star in "Tribeca," a TBS cop comedy pilot from Steve Carell
Carell and wife Nancy are co-writing and producing the police procedural in which Jones plays Angie Tribeca, the 10-year veteran of the LAPD's RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit).

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Amazon mulls launching an online pay TV service


Amazon mulls launching an online pay TV service
The service would offer many of the cable channels currently available.


Jesse L. Martin joins "The Flash"
The "Law & Order" alum will play a detective on the CW superhero series.


Fox moves "Enlisted"
The freshman comedy will air after "Bones" at 9 pm, swapping timeslots with "Raising Hope."


"24: Live Another Day" adds Tate Donovan
He'll play the White House chief of staff who is married to Kim Raver's character.

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<p>Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in &quot;Calvary.&quot;</p>

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in "Calvary."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Review: A superb Brendan Gleeson tackles Catholic guilt in dark, difficult 'Calvary'

John Michael McDonagh's second feature is a challenging comedy of faith

PARK CITY - From the first line of dialogue in John Michael McDonaugh's second feature "Calvary," it's clear we're in for a very compromised comedy indeed: as rural Irish priest Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits impassively in his dim confession booth, an unseen male parishioner bluntly says, "I first tasted semen when I was seven years old." The words are so ugly, so out of step with their serene surroundings, that a large proportion of the Sundance audience responded with a queasy laugh, as if it were a dirty joke cracked at a funeral. But it's no joke at a holy man's expense; it's an admission, and as its implications become clear, tied to the uncovered legacy of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, silence takes over.

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<p>Time to break out the balloons?&nbsp;&quot;Enlisted&quot;&nbsp;just got a new timeslot.</p>

Time to break out the balloons? "Enlisted" just got a new timeslot.

Credit: FOX

FOX swaps 'Enlisted' and 'Raising Hope' timeslots

Military comedy will now air Fridays at 9, after 'Bones'

"Enlisted" just got a minor promotion, from a Friday at 9:30 timeslot to Fridays at 9.

Starting this week, the first-year military comedy (which I like a lot) will swap timeslots with "Raising Hope," which gets bumped to 9:30. 

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<p>Shorts HD&nbsp;and&nbsp;Magnolia Pictures bring the nominations to you.</p>

Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures bring the nominations to you.

Credit: Shorts HD

2014 Oscar-nominated short films heading to theaters and VOD on Jan. 31

Contenders in animated, live action and documentary ready for their close-up

One of the coolest things to have seen take shape over my years covering the awards beat has been watching the program of Oscar-nominated short films find an outlet to the public through Shorts HD and Magnolia Pictures' annual theatrical and, eventually, VOD showcase of the contenders. And they're more accessible than ever as, in addition to theatrical distribution on Jan. 31, they'll be available on things like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and DirecTV.

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'Flowers in the Attic' attracts 6.1 million


"Flowers in the Attic" attracts 6.1 million

That was Lifetime's best numbers for an original movie since "Steel Magnolias" in October 2012.


Chinese TV is blatantly ripping off "The Colbert Report's" opening credits
A show called "The Banquet" totally copied Colbert's opening -- see for yourself.


"Klondike" gets big numbers for Discovery
About 3.4 million watched last night's premiere, resulting in Discovery's best-ever Monday.


HBO's "Game of Thrones" exhibit is going around the world
The only two American stops this year are New York and Austin, as the traveling exhibit heads to Oslo, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Belfast.


Sherri Shepherd is the latest to apologize for anti-gay comments
Last week, "The View" star defended her view that homosexuality is a sin.

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Exclusive Clip: Sundance doc 'Watchers of the Sky' and the word genocide

Exclusive Clip: Sundance doc 'Watchers of the Sky' and the word genocide

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power discusses its importance

PARK CITY - Even with four critics reviewing movies it's hard to catch everything at a festival as big as Sundance. One movie that we'll be reviewing over the next few days is Edet Belzberg's new documentary "Watchers of the Sky."  The film debuted last weekend in the U.S. documentary competition and follows four modern day humanitarians who all owe something to the legendary Raphael Lemkin, the man who first termed the word genocide (and that was just the beginning of his legacy).

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<p>Iko Uwais prepares to devastate</p>

Iko Uwais prepares to devastate

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

A new bone-crunching trailer for 'The Raid 2' arrives hours before the film premieres

Sundance is going to bleed freely tonight

PARK CITY - When you attend a festival like Sundance, one of the great things about it is the diversity of voices and styles and stories that you'll experience over the course of your stay. I love discovering filmmakers here, I love stumbling into small movies that I might otherwise never have seen, and I love the sheer range of human experience on display.

So of course the film I'm most excited to see while I'm here is about Indonesian guys kicking the holy hell out of each other.

I haven't exactly been shy about expressing just how excited I am for "The Raid 2" tonight at the Eccles theater. It was the first ticket I booked for the festival, and I built my entire schedule around it. Absolutely nothing is going to stand in the way of me being there for what I hope is a very special evening. They even announced a secret screening for tonight of what Sundance is calling a "major motion picture" that is coming out in theaters later this year from "a major filmmaker," and I didn't consider for a moment skipping tonight's "Raid 2" premiere. Hell, it could be my first movie premiering in that spot, and I'd still be at "The Raid 2."

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<p>Terence Winter at the National Board of Review Awards Gala in New York earlier this month.</p>

Terence Winter at the National Board of Review Awards Gala in New York earlier this month.

Credit: AP Photo

'Wolf of Wall Street' scribe responds to criticisms and his first-ever Oscar nomination

'We wanted to let Jordan sell you his story.'

Screenwriter Terence Winter, who last week was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street," was just as confused by some of the reactions to his film as Leonardo DiCaprio was toward the end of the year. The hedonistic depiction of Wall Street excess had led some to question its moral standing, surmising that it seemed to take far too much delight in its depictions.

But that thin line is also partly the point. It's a film that shows you a good time and dares you to have fun with it, because it's a display of antics that appeal to base, primal desires in many ways. That having been said, the idea that anyone would take away from it the idea that it was meant to be a glorification was "sort of a head-scratcher" for Winter, he says. "You'd think it would go without saying, but anyone who would watch that behavior and want to emulate what's going on on screen has got a screw loose as far as I'm concerned."

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<p>Pretty much every major vampire archetype is featured in the absurd and whip-smart 'What We Do In The Shadows'</p>

Pretty much every major vampire archetype is featured in the absurd and whip-smart 'What We Do In The Shadows'

Credit: Sundance FIlm Festival

Review: Jemaine Clement's 'What We Do In The Shadows' is gory and hilarious

Vampire mockumentary is both clever and savage

PARK CITY - Going from the bruised beauty of Ana Lily Amirpour's "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" to the brutally silly majesty of the mockumentary vampires of "What We Do In The Shadows" only points up just how easy it is to start from similar places and still end up with very different movies.

Before the film began at the Egyptian, co-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi took the stage to talk about how the film came together. They said they were approached by the New Zealand Documentary Board about making this in 2010, asking them to look into the vampire population of Wellington. Sure enough, the opening logo for the film is for the NZDB, and they play the film as a fairly straight-faced documentary, but let's be clear: this is one of the silliest comedies I've seen in a while, and it is so packed with laughs that before they even got to the opening titles, my face was already sore.

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