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<p>A scene from &quot;Kon-Tiki.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Kon-Tiki."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Foreign Language Film

'Amour,' 'War Witch,' 'No,' 'A Royal Affair' and 'Kon-Tiki' 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.) 

Have things finally turned around in what used to be the Oscars' most annually frustrating category? It's one where the commendable requirement that members see all five nominees before voting can lead to some unpopular upsets. But after year upon year of controversial omissions, vanilla inclusions and frequently forgettable winners, the Academy looks likely to crown the year's most universally acclaimed world cinema title for the second year in a row. To make matters all the sweeter, it's not their only reasonable option. This year's slate of nominees in the category is arguably the richest in recent memory: a healthily border-crossing mix of perspectives with one revered auteur balanced by a couple of bristly, exciting up-and-comers.

One might credit the Academy's consistent tweaking of the rules in this category for making it appear a little more on the money in the past few years: they were aware there was a problem, and hats off to them for addressing it. But it must be said that the individual countries played ball this year, too -- with very few exceptions, the national committees charged with selecting their official Oscar submission chose wisely. The resulting longlist of 71 films, the largest in Oscar history, was veritably stacked with festival sensations and under-the-radar gems. Winnowing it down to five was always going to be a heartbreaking process, but we still have reason to cheer those left standing.

The nominees are...

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<p>Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep and Jean Dujardin at last year's Academy Awards.</p>

Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep and Jean Dujardin at last year's Academy Awards.

Credit: AMPAS

Roundup: Streep, Dujardin, Spencer and Plummer all returning to the Oscars

Also: News from the Euro fest circuit, and a legal victory for James Cameron

Aside from last night's VES Awards, it's a pretty slow day on the circuit, so let's lead with some unsurprising but reassuring news. Not that you had any reason to suspect otherwise, but last year's quartet of acting Oscar winners -- Jean Dujardin, Meryl Streep, Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer -- will all be on hand to present at this year's awards, joining Mark Wahlberg and his fuzzy friend from "Ted" on the list of confirmed presenters. Assuming the Oscarcast producers don't veer from the traditional format, you could already start imagining the juxtapositions: many people's choice for Greatest Actress Alive handing the Oscar to many people's choice for Greatest Actor Alive, welcoming him into the triple-winner club to boot, is a particularly nifty photo op waiting to happen. And while Jennifer Lawrence remains at the front of the Best Actress race, how sweet would it be to see Jean Dujardin present the award to his senior compatriot, Emmanuelle Riva? [The Wrap]

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<p>The &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;producers are new, but the faces in front of the camera remain the same.</p>

The "Community" producers are new, but the faces in front of the camera remain the same.

Credit: NBC

New 'Community' producers Moses Port and David Guarascio preview season 4

On losing Chevy Chase, preparing for senior year and whether, in hindsight, they'd have chosen to succeed Dan Harmon
In succeeding “Community” creator Dan Harmon as showrunners of the NBC comedy, Moses Port and David Guarascio have been placed in a trickier position than most TV producers. First, it’s not often that a writer as singularly associated with a show as Harmon was with “Community” leaves it, whether voluntarily or because they were fired. Second, when it’s happened in the past with shows like “NYPD Blue” post-Milch, “The West Wing” post-Sorkin and “Gilmore Girls” post-Sherman-Palladino, the replacements have tended to be people who had already been working on the show and watching the creator at work. Port and Guarascio are comedy veterans who most recently worked on ABC’s “Happy Endings,” but their only prior affiliation with “Community” was as viewers of the show.
 
I spoke with them back in October, when “Community” was supposed to debut on October 19 in a new Friday timeslot. Instead, it was held until tomorrow night, when it’ll be back in its familiary Thursday at 8 p.m. berth for a 13-episode fourth season that Port and Guarascio believe has a good chance of not being the end of the series.
 
When I was in LA last month, I sat down with them for an expansive discussion about the challenges of stepping in for Harmon, their reaction to Chevy Chase’s abrupt exit late in the season (and how the show will deal with it), their take on where most of the characters are heading into season 4, their reaction to getting their very own Twitter spoof account, and a lot more.
 
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<p>&quot;Life of Pi&quot;</p>

"Life of Pi"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Life of Pi' and 'Brave' rule the 11th annual Visual Effects Society Awards

'The Avengers,' 'The Hobbit' and 'The Impossible' also pick up prizes

It was a predictably great night for "Life of Pi" at tonight's Visual Effects Society Awards as the film picked up four prizes, including the big daddy, Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Motion Picture. Not only that, but as previously announced, the film's director, Ang Lee, received the Society's Visionary Award. "It's not visual effects. It's visual art," Lee said upon receiving the prize.

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<p>&quot;The&nbsp;Invisible War&quot;</p>

"The Invisible War"

Credit: Cinedigm

Chuck Hagel questioned about the military's 'Invisible War' in confirmation hearing

A documentary that could bring real change may be tempting to voters

Chuck Hagel weathered quite the storm from his fellow Republicans during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense. But part of the debate strewn about in those eight hours pertained to something very much at the fore of discussion in this year's documentary feature race.

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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: It's part two of Tierra's power play for Sean

The second half of Monday's crazy-thon brings out the medics again

I'm not quite sure why this has to be a two-night, very special event, but here we are again with "The Bachelor." I'm trying to sort out what could possibly justify a two-part episode. Could it be that ABC just shoved two episodes of this series into one week and tried to sugar coat it as "very special"?  Of course not! So maybe the other girls actually eat Tierra in a frenzy, driven to cannibalistic insanity by this overly dramatic, man-hogging manipulator. Hey, these girls are getting angry, so I can't rule it out.

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<p>On &quot;Justified,&quot;&nbsp;Boyd (Walton Goggins)&nbsp;and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant)&nbsp;have their first encounter of the season.</p>

On "Justified," Boyd (Walton Goggins) and Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) have their first encounter of the season.

Credit: FX

Review: 'Justified' - 'Kin'

Raylan and Boyd come face to face in a guest star-packed hour

A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I read a book about a Native American princess who controls invisible forest animals...

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<p>&quot;Smash&quot;&nbsp;has an &quot;American Idol&quot;&nbsp;team-up between Jennifer Hudson and Katharine McPhee.</p>

"Smash" has an "American Idol" team-up between Jennifer Hudson and Katharine McPhee.

Credit: NBC

Season premiere: 'Smash' - 'On Broadway/The Fallout'

What did everybody think of the NBC drama's return?

I posted my review of the new season of "Smashthis morning. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the changes made by Josh Safran and company? If you were a fan last spring, did you enjoy these tweaks? If you were just hate-watching by the end, was this an improvement? (And do you want the show to improve?) Were you happy to have Jennifer Hudson around for a bit? Did you think her duet with Katharine McPhee did a good job of showcasing both "Idol" alums? Do you like the new musical, and did you find Jimmy charming or just a complete jerk? 

I imagine there will be some rubbernecking for tonight, even among those of you who didn't like the show last season. Was there enough here to make you want to stick around? 

Have at it.

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<p>Robert De Niro in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook.&quot;</p>

Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Counting down Robert De Niro's 10 best performances as he seeks a third Oscar

Does his nominated turn in 'Silver Linings Playbook' rank with his best?

For an actor who hasn't courted much publicity in recent years, Robert De Niro suddenly appears to be everywhere at once. Yesterday, in addition to attending the Academy's official nominees luncheon, he showed up at Grauman's Chinese Theater to have his hands and footprints cast in the ceremonial cement of many a Hollywood legend. That evening, meanwhile, the American Cinematheque kicked off a three-day restrospective of De Niro's work with a screening of his current nomination vehicle, "Silver Linings Playbook" -- followed by a Q&A with the actor, introduced by Harvey Weinstein himself.

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<p>Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak in &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak in "The Mindy Project."

Credit: FOX

Review: 'The Mindy Project' - 'Harry & Mindy'

Mindy continues to suspect that B.J. Novak loves his female best friend

A review of tonight's "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as I contest a jaywalking ticket...

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<p>Cece (Hannah Simone)&nbsp;and Schmidt (Max Greenfield)&nbsp;in &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) in "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

Review: 'New Girl' - 'Table 34'

Nick and Jess deal with the aftermath of their kiss, and Cece goes to an Indian marriage convention

A quick review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I panic moonwalk away from you...

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<p>We are closer than ever to making my epic nine-part 22-hour 'The Legend Of Lobot' dream a reality.</p>

We are closer than ever to making my epic nine-part 22-hour 'The Legend Of Lobot' dream a reality.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

Disney's Bob Iger confirms 'Star Wars' spinoff films coming from Kasdan and Kinberg

Why now is the best moment ever to be a 'Star Wars' fan

I'm not sure this is exactly breaking news so much as it's a confirmation of what they've been saying since the Disney deal was originally announced.

Yes… they are making stand-alone films in the "Star Wars" universe.  Yes, they will feature characters you already know.  Yes, Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are working on them.  All of this has been reported already.

This is what we have to look forward to for the next few years.  We're going to end up breathlessly reporting the same few things over and over in an absence of new information, just because each and every mention of "Star Wars" is a bonanza of SEO magic.  And why not?  "Star Wars" fans are out there frantically searching for new information. We've probably run ten or twelve stories about the series since the Disney deal was announced, and I've got a podcast going up sometime today with a ton of "Star Wars" conversation at the center of it.

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