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<p>Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally&nbsp;Field in &quot;Lincoln&quot;</p>

Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field in "Lincoln"

Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Sound Mixing

'Argo,' 'Les Misérables,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Lincoln' and 'Skyfall' 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.)

The sound categories this year ended up being quite the race. A publicity angle was even built around the work put into one nominee; it's been the presumed frontrunner for a while for a reason. You never can tell just which side of the Best Picture slate the branch will fall, though. Sometimes detours are taken into high gloss stuff, sometimes prestige takes over. Sometimes there's a balance.

This year featured a bit of a curve ball early on when the Cinema Audio Society added films like "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" into the serious discourse, while the Oscar nominations ultimately yielded, for both sound categories in fact, a bit of a surprise showing for the overall Best Picture Oscar frontrunner. But then, I suppose that shouldn't be such a surprise, in the final analysis. Coattails do exist.

The nominees are…

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<p>John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo.&quot;</p>

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in "Argo."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: The case against 'Argo'

Also: Why black characters still fall short in this year's Oscar crop

Yesterday, we led with "Lincoln" being taken to task for its factual infidelities; today, it's the turn of "Argo." Critical screeds against the Best Picture frontrunner are always a dime a dozen at this point in the season -- frankly, a defence of Ben Affleck's film would make for fresher reading right now -- but Andrew O'Hehir's Salon piece on why "Argo" doesn't deserve the Oscar is as cogently argued as any: "I’m less concerned with the veracity of individual details than with the fact that 'Argo' uses its basis in history and its mode of detailed realism to create something that is entirely mythological. It’s a totalizing fiction whose turning points are narrow escapes and individual derring-do designed to foreground Affleck and his star power." Personally, I don't think Affleck's star power is all that selfishly showcased -- but hey, I like the film. [Salon]

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<p>Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in &quot;House of Cards.&quot;</p>

Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in "House of Cards."

Credit: Netflix

Review: In the end, Netflix's 'House of Cards' good but not great

Distribution model is revolutionary, but show would be mid-tier drama for HBO or Showtime

I finally finished Netflix's "House of Cards" late last week. As promised, I have a review of the entire first season — so don't read if you haven't finished yet and don't want to be spoiled — coming up just as soon as I put a spider outside my super's apartment...

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: 'White Party Pooper'

Adrienne, Paul and Brandi fight some more

I've heard of many ridiculous Hollywood parties in my time, most of them hosted by talent agencies. But never before have I heard of someone having a party for her nose, or, to paraphrase Kyle, a nose quinceanera. I had hoped Kim might really go all-out with the theme, giving people gift bags of tissue paper and decongestants and floating big, green blobs in her pool, but no such luck. Instead, she has some little fake lilies and Chinese lanterns and calls it a party. I call that a Friday night. What a wasted opportunity!

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<p>Assuming best supporting actor is one of the first few awards handed out, will there be any surprises left afterward?</p>

Assuming best supporting actor is one of the first few awards handed out, will there be any surprises left afterward?

Contender Countdown: Best Supporting Actor brings the surprises

Is 'Argo' a done deal for best picture?

Has it come to this? Has the race for best picture become - gasp - anticlimactic? Will "Argo" really defy history and become on the fourth film ever to win best picture without a director nomination?  According to all my peers and, um, myself that appears to be the case.

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<p>James Purefoy of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

James Purefoy of "The Following"

Credit: Nicole Rivelli/FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'The Siege'

Carroll sends a Poe-based message through his old lawyer
The Following is exhaustingly dark, is it not?
 
This week’s episode “Siege” goes in a lot of directions. A few of those angles stick. Others don’t have the emotional impact that you might expect from so much blood and gore. By far the most powerful moment is at the very end, and the story is a little muddled getting all the way there.
 
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<p>Michael Caine is forced to make some tough moral choices in pursuit of his wife in the adventure film 'Ashanti,' available now on Blu-ray.</p>

Michael Caine is forced to make some tough moral choices in pursuit of his wife in the adventure film 'Ashanti,' available now on Blu-ray.

Credit: Severin Films

My Blu-ray Shelf: Michael Caine tries to rescue his wife from slavers in 'Ashanti'

An adventure film set in the world of human trafficking is less sleazy than expected

Severin Films normally handles things that fall closer to the sleazy end of the scale, and that's not a judgment of their overall identity, just an observation.  You looking for the absolute best master ever of a particular European softcore title from the '70s?  If anyone's put it on home video, it's probably Severin.

I can understand why they probably wanted to put out "Ashanti" as one of their latest releases.  The film has a certain reputation, and I've never seen it before, in part because of that reputation.  Finally having seen it, though, it's far less exploitative than I expected it to be, and instead, it's pretty much a straightforward adventure film using human trafficking as the backdrop.

While he's in Africa with his wife, Dr. Anansa Linderby (Beverly Johnson), Dr. David Liderby (Michael Caine) is horrified by her disappearance.  She's taken by the slaver Suleiman (Peter Ustinov), and for the rest of the film, Caine does his best to catch up with Ustinov before she can be sold into a life of bondage.  I was worried at the start of the film that it was going to be rapey and disturbing, but the film avoids that sort of thing entirely.  Instead, it's all about the chase and the various allies that Caine is forced to call on in his quest to find his wife.

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<p>This is as close to a 'meet cute' as you're going to get in William Dear's 'Timerider,' which arrives on Blu-ray in March.</p>

This is as close to a 'meet cute' as you're going to get in William Dear's 'Timerider,' which arrives on Blu-ray in March.

Credit: Shout! Factory

My Blu-ray Shelf: 'Timerider' stands up as charming science-fiction Western

How many would-be franchises did Fred Ward star in, anyway?

I need to get better about sharing thoughts on the mountain on home video that ends up on my shelves here at the house, and it doesn't need to be long-winded or overly-complicated.  It's amazing how often I forget that.  I also want to start including links out to Amazon (you'll find one at the very bottom of this piece) from these DVD and Blu-ray pieces so, if you choose to, you can support the ongoing efforts of Film Nerd 2.0 as I continue to add titles to the library to share with the boys in the months and years ahead.

For example, this morning's movie is one of those films that I know I've seen the cover of about a thousand times over the years.  "Timerider" has been a home video mainstay since not long after its 1982 theatrical release, and for some reason, I've always put it off as one of those "that looks fun on some rainy afternoon" movies.  Finally arriving on Blu-ray seems like a good enough excuse to finally watch it, and my first observation is that this is probably as good a print of this particular title as you are every likely to see.

I had no idea this was co-written and directed by William Dear, who was also responsible for the late-'80s Amblin' film "Harry and the Hendersons," or that producer Michael Nesmith was also a co-writer.  The film is a somewhat goofy adventure film about a motorcycle racer who accidentally rides into the middle of a test of a time machine.  He ends up in the Old West, where he squares off against a gang of bloodthirsty bandits made up of Peter Coyote, Tracey Walter, and, as unlikely as it sounds, Richard Masur.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: It's time for home visits for the final four

Sean locks horns with a reluctant brother

It's time for home visits! These are always more than a little uncomfortable, as the parents don't want to look like they're sending a daughter head first into traffic but do want to be supportive. Or at least some of them want to be supportive. Basically, everyone looks a little miserable and hyper aware of the cameras, and half of the time you expect them to turn to the camera operator and ask if they look fat in whatever they're wearing. So, I hope Sean is ready for this, because I'm pretty confident most of the people he'll be meeting aren't. 

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<p>One of many powerful protests depicted in David France's &quot;How to Survive a Plague.&quot;</p>

One of many powerful protests depicted in David France's "How to Survive a Plague."

David France says Oscar nominee 'How to Survive a Plague' is already a 'winner'

And how about that Ed Koch?

Every year Oscar's documentary category seems to provide historical lessons for generations to learn from now and in the future.  This year, "5 Broken Cameras" helps shine the light on non-violent resistance in the West Bank; "The Gatekeepers" reveals that many of Israel's greatest hawks are now doves; "The Invisible War" pulls the curtain on clandestine operations funded by the American government; and one of rock n'roll's forgotten heroes is rediscovered in "Searching for Sugar Man." One of the most important nominees, however, tells the tale of an incredible grassroots movement that began in New York City to fight the battle against AIDS when it appeared no one else was, "How to Survive a Plague."  Noted author and journalist David France used amazing and rate video of this organization -- better known as ACT UP -- the centerpiece of his debut documentary.  France took some time last week to chat about his cinematic journey, the reaction to the death of Ed Koch and why "Plague" is already a winner before he hits the Academy Awards red carpet.

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Listen: Mariah Carey's new track 'Almost Home' misses by a mile
Credit: Island Records

Listen: Mariah Carey's new track 'Almost Home' misses by a mile

Mid-tempo ballad from 'Oz the Great and Powerful' could use some heart

Hear Mariah Carey like you’re never heard her...and that’s not a good thing.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kevin Costner appears not only in 'JFK' by Oliver Stone, but in the JFK-themed film 'Thirteen Days'</p>

Kevin Costner appears not only in 'JFK' by Oliver Stone, but in the JFK-themed film 'Thirteen Days'

Credit: Warner Bros

From JFK To Jed Bartlet: A closer look at how Hollywood has treated the US Presidency on film

Which President, real or fictional, has been your movie favorite?

So it's President's Day.  As with any holiday, you should celebrate with a movie, obviously, but which one?

If you're going to the theater today, then "Lincoln" probably remains your best bet.  After all, not only does it manage to actually raise the 16th U.S. President from the dead via medium/movie star Daniel Day Lewis, but it also does a fantastic job of showing how the power of the Presidency can be used.  There are so many movies about U.S. Presidents that trying to pick from, and so many different types of films, that picking one to enjoy today can be as brutal as your average election season.

Oliver Stone has made a career out of exploring the uses and abuses of power in America, and he may be the only working filmmaker who has made three different films named after U.S. Presidents.  Of the three, I think "JFK" is the best of the bunch, even though it's not really about the President.  There are few films that have ever done a better job of exploring the elusive nature of truth in the media age or that have dramatized the way we can disappear down a rabbit hole in search of answers where there are none to be found.  It is a film about obsession and the way power is brokered in the post-Eisenhower era, and it is nothing less than dizzying to witness.  Stone has never been more technically exciting to watch than he was at this point in his career, and "JFK" is one of the most amazing theatrical experiences he has ever signed his name to.  I'm quite fond of "Nixon" as well, but that may be because I have been fascinated by Nixon for as long as I've been aware of him. 

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