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<p>Keira Knightley in &quot;Anna Karenina&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Final thoughts on the 2012 crafts races

From Best Cinematography through Best Visual Effects, what will win?

I am already having withdrawal symptoms from this year’s Oscar race. I don’t need to repeat the litany of reasons this has become a unique year in Oscar history. I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. SO many categories are exceptionally tight races. The crafts categories are no exception and there are many below-the-line artists to cheer for this year.

I think the Oscar Guides have been superb this year, and I don’t mean to duplicate them, so I’ll try to cut to the chase as I give a final preview of the 10 crafts categories set to be awarded at Sunday's 85th annual Academy Awards.

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;The&nbsp;Master&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

Down the stretch in phase one, and certainly once the nominees had been set in stone, an obvious Best Actor frontrunner emerged as maybe the safest bet on Oscar night. But the Best Actor race was competitive all season long in the nominations stage. A tight seven- or eight-horse race led to surprises here and there in the various precursor announcements, and even a slight one in the ultimate nominations announcement.

SAG nominee and expected contender John Hawkes ("The Sessions") was left on the sidelines, but he joined hopefuls like Jean-Louis Trintignant ("Amour"), Anthony Hopkins ("Hitchcock"), as well as Golden Globe-nominee Richard Gere ("Arbitrage") and BAFTA nominee Ben Affleck ("Argo") on the outside. But the ultimate line-up featured the ill and the impaired, the criminal and the Presidential, as two Oscar virgins joined a trio nominated a collective 14 times over the years.

The nominees are…

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<p>Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' co-creator Mike Schur on writing the perfect finale

Tonight's first episode won't end the series, but it could have
Do not be alarmed if the first of tonight’s two episodes of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (it airs at 8:30) feels like a series finale. It was designed to function as one — just in case — as have the last several of the show’s season finales.
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<p>Kristin Chenoweth</p>

Kristin Chenoweth

Credit: AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

Roundup: The show's not over 'til Seth MacFarlane sings

Also: The women on the sidelines, and Jean Dujardin's Oscar signal

In case you were worried that this year's Oscar ceremony won't feature enough musical numbers -- you know, besides the nominated songs, Barbra Streisand's In Memoriam moment and the odd-sounding tribute to "Chicago," "Dreamgirls" and "Les Mis" -- you can breathe a sigh of relief. Apparently the show won't conclude with the Best Picture presentation, but with a "special" song from Kristin Chenoweth and Seth MacFarlane that producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron claim will be "a can't-miss moment." (Of course, the producers who misguidedly chose to end the 2010 show with a children's choir singing "Over the Rainbow" probably thought that too.) On the one hand, the Academy has definitely let go of the "young, hip Oscars" meme that failed so dismally a few years ago, and for that we're grateful. But is this overkill? [The Vote

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Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Caramoan' - 'Honey Badger'

Reynold has a bulge in his pocket and it's making people nervous
Pre-credit sequence. The Favorites return to camp having sent Francesca packing. Dawn begins by pulling Brandon aside and attempting to calm him down, to no avail. "This Tribal Council sucked!" says Brandon, who is irate that Francesca went out first twice. Brandon announces that he's the Honey Badger, which I think means he's been kicked off of LSU's football team for repeated rules infractions. Brandon then tells Dawn and Cochran that they're both going to lose. This makes Dawn cry, proving that Brandon can go full-psycho even on women who aren't hot and young. He's an egalitarian lunatic. "It's about me and what I stand for and it doesn't really matter what Brandon thinks of me," Dawn cries. The creatures in the trees and Adorable Andrea on the ground look on in concern. "I'm feeling a little revengeful," Brandon announces to Erik, vowing to channel his inner Russell Hantz. He's not well, Brandon Hantz. And CBS keeps enabling him and his family. "This is a game and I'm playing dirty to the core. I want to go out with a bang," Brandon rants.
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10 worst Oscar winners for best original song

10 worst Oscar winners for best original song

Do you really think 'You Light Up My Life' would win again?

There have been many years when the Oscar winner for best original song felt 100% right and then there have been all the other years. Finding the 10 most egregious mistakes wasn't difficult. Too many times the voters seemingly selected the movie rather than the song or the legacy of the esteemed songwriter over the particular tune. And then, of course, there are the years when the Oscar voters just seem to hate most of the songs altogether, such as last year, when only two songs made the cut. Here's a look back at some cringeworthy selections (OK, they aren't ALL cringeworthy) and who should have won.


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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: The finalists are joined by 'Last Chance Kitchen' winner

It's a tough battle to the finish for these three serious contenders

It's down to Sheldon and Brooke! For now! Brooke knows it's going to be top three, but she likes thinking of herself as top two. I don't blame her, but I think she'll end up being the top one, so she might enjoy that more.

Before we get started, we visit each chef on their home turf. It has been six months since the show (sans finale) wrapped, and it's given Sheldon time to learn about all things non-Asian. I'm worried about this, because he's just so good at his particular wheelhouse (which is distinctly different from Brooke's wheelhouse) that I think he's going to overreach. Do what you're good at, Sheldon!

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Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Long Shot: When good enough is good enough

Why 'Argo' is right for Oscar, plus my latest predictions

There's nothing like an imminent Oscar to remind previously indifferent observers just how vociferously they actually dislike a film. With Ben Affleck's "Argo" four days away from an all-but-certain Best Picture win, it's been the subject of far more takedown pieces and message-board ire than it appeared to merit upon its autumn release -- back when you might have been forgiven simply for thinking it a tidily enjoyable little studio thriller.

Thanks to the Oscar race, we've since learned that "Argo" is at once so much more and less than that: it's a blind signifier of western anti-Iranian sentiment, a jumped-up betrayal of a true story with an irresponsibly embroidered final act, a smug example of Hollywood self-mythologising and a slap in the face of Canada to boot. Much column ink (or the intangible online equivalent) has been spent on telling us what a grave mistake the Academy is heedlessly making or all these reasons, not to mention the formal limitations and alleged martyr complex of Affleck himself -- whom we are repeatedly told is winning out of collective industry pity, as if the lack of a Best Director nod for a successful, handsome, moneyed Hollywood prince is a sob story that has moved voters en masse, despite their complete disregard for his film. 

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<p>Matthew Rhys and Keri Rusell in &quot;The Americans.&quot;</p>

Matthew Rhys and Keri Rusell in "The Americans."

Credit: FX

Review: 'The Americans' - 'In Control'

Both sides scramble when President Reagan is shot

I'm on vacation this week, but I got to see tonight's "The Americans" in advance, and I have a few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I dig up a buried weapons cache...

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'Harlem Shake' zooms to the top of the Billboard Hot 100
Credit: Mad Decent

'Harlem Shake' zooms to the top of the Billboard Hot 100

A change in methodology upends the weekly chart

A change in chart methodology leads to viral sensation “Harlem Shake” by Baauer  catapulting to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Starting this week, YouTube streaming data will be included in the media tallied for the Billboard Hot 100, joining radio play, other social steaming media, and digital sales (imagine how long “Gangnam Style” would have been at No. 1 if YouTube had been added only a few months ago!).

“Harlem Shake” is the 21st song in the 55-year history of the chart to debut at No. 1, according to Billboard.

“Shake” knocks Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop,” which topped the chart for four weeks, down to No. 2.  Rihanna’s  “Stay, featuring Mikky Ekko,” charges to No. 3 from No. 57, propelled by the new methodology and her Grammy performance. “Stay” is Rihanna’s 24th top 10 hit. She surpasses both Whitney Houston and the Rolling Stones, who had 23 each. and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout” falls 3-4, while Taylor Swift’s “I Knew Your Were Trouble” stays at No. 5.

The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” slides 4-6 and Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”  falls to earth, slipping 2-7. But it’s not all bad news for Mars, as his new single, “When I Was Your Man” inches 9-8.

Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” featuring Jay-Z moves 8-9 and Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” makes it way toward the top as it flies 63-10.

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<p>It's not fair to judge a screen cap from a streaming presentation of a live-event, but it's safe to say today's 'Watch Dogs' demo was one of the highlights of today's PS4 demonstration.</p>

It's not fair to judge a screen cap from a streaming presentation of a live-event, but it's safe to say today's 'Watch Dogs' demo was one of the highlights of today's PS4 demonstration.

Credit: Playstation

Sony puts their best foot forward at the New York debut of the Playstation 4

We look at the presentation and the promise of this next-gen console

"Social" seems to be the biggest buzzword for the Playstation 4, as it is for pretty much any device that connects in any way to the Internet at this point.

Sony held a major press event tonight in New York to officially premiere the next generation console as well as some of the launch titles that will be available for it.  The first one that flabbergasted me was "Driveclub," which is basically a virtual reality racing game that is based around team-based racing, and the racing footage they showed was so remarkable, so close to photo-real, that it really does feel like a jump forward, something I haven't felt from gaming in a while.  It's been incremental steps for the last few years, and that's fine.  I understand that we live in an age of technical marvels, and I don't take for granted how spectacular something like "Sleeping Dogs," which I just finished playing is, even if gamers in general greeted it with a shrug as a knock-off of "Grand Theft Auto."  That may be true, but it's still eye-popping and the game play is mind-blowing considering I remember when "Spy Hunter" was the state of the art.

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<p>Angela Miller of &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Angela Miller of "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 - Sudden Death, Part 1 - 10 Girls Perform

This season's semifinal round takes on a whole new form in Las Vegas

Wednesday (Feb. 20) night's "American Idol" represents an all-new format the long-running series. And, as a result, I don't actually have a clue what's coming tonight. Depending on which press release you read, this is either the "Semifinals" or the "Sudden Death Round." It appears that 10 people -- Girls if you trust FOX's press site, but Boys if you trust my Time-Warner cable listings -- will be singing and five will be going home. How were the groups split? What happens if one group or one gender ends up much better than the other? 

I have no idea. 

So click through and follow along...

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