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<p>With 11 nods, &quot;Life of Pi&quot; is far from at sea in the Oscar race.</p>

With 11 nods, "Life of Pi" is far from at sea in the Oscar race.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Lincoln' leads, 'Pi' and 'Silver Linings' surge as the Academy serves up a few surprises

Three DGA nominees miss the cut for Best Director

When the Academy announced it was moving up the announcement of its nominees to an unprecedently early date, we knew the ensuing precursor scramble could result in a few surprises. We just didn't know quite how many. With this morning's nominations, they may have played by the book in some respects -- pretty much everyone saw that field-leading haul of nods for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" coming -- but in many others, they were on excitingly independent-minded form, freed from the lockstep of Guild thinking.

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<p>The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in &quot;The Hunger Games.&quot;</p>

The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in "The Hunger Games."

Credit: Lionsgate

Roundup: The people love 'The Hunger Games'... and 'Perks'

Also: 'Django' action figure controversy, and R.I.P. David R. Ellis

While the ever-growing club of "Perks of Being a Wallflower" fans are crossing their fingers for a screenplay Oscar nod in the next hour or so, the film's word-of-mouth success was rewarded last night with a People's Choice Award win for Best Dramatic Movie (and Best Dramatic Actress for Emma Watson). It's easy to mock these awards, but it's nice to see actual evidence that this little film has connected with audiences out in the real world. More predictably, "The Hunger Games" took the top award, while Jennifer Lawrence took two prizes, for Best Actress and Face of Heroism -- it's safe to say "Silver Linings Playbook" didn't factor into either of these. Other film category winners include "Ted," Chris Hemsworth, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Aniston -- hey, these awards aren't so bad. [Yahoo!

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"Kathy"

 "Kathy"

Credit: Bravo

Press Tour: Kathy Griffin promises Cher in her bathroom and more on 'Kathy'

The second season will 'mix real people and celebrities'

Last year one of the most unexpected TV talk shows on the circuit was "Kathy," and it speaks to Kathy Griffin's engaging presence that the unusual formula worked. Instead of featuring the usual spate of celebrities plugging their latest projects, Griffin instead found real people (and her own celebrity friends like Anderson Cooper and Lance Bass) to sit on the couch to discuss what she found most interesting in the news (or in the reality TV programming) of the day, sometimes finishing the show with a group of sexy firefighters, strippers or cops.

This year the show, which returns for its second season Jan. 10 at 10:00 p.m., will have some big changes -- more celebrities and a live format, which will be an interesting challenge for the potty-mouthed performer. I spoke to Griffin one-on-one at press tour about the changes, why she's "hungry and bitter," and what she's watching when she's not watching "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

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<p>Despite those sleepy eyes and his devastating smile, I managed to keep most of my clothes on during my Ryan Gosling interview for 'Gangster Squad'.&nbsp; Impressive, no?</p>

Despite those sleepy eyes and his devastating smile, I managed to keep most of my clothes on during my Ryan Gosling interview for 'Gangster Squad'.  Impressive, no?

Credit: HitFix

Ryan Gosling discusses '40s slang and first crushes in 'Gangster Squad' interview

Plus read why Gosling is scared to work with Emma Stone

I've got a fistful of "Gangster Squad" interviews to run in the next few days, and I thought we'd kick things off with Ryan Gosling.  I know, I know… simmer down, ladies.

Gosling is at that strange place that actors find themselves sometimes where he's not really a box-office star by the standard definition.  His presence in a film doesn't automatically open the film, but he's certainly as high profile as an actor can be.  He's constantly photographed and magazines and tabloids spend a lot of column inches on him.  He has a fairly dedicated fanbase that can be very vocal, and it certainly feels like he's one big hit away from fulfilling that full star potential.

I don't get the feeling any of that is terribly important to him, though.

When we sat down to talk on Saturday, he was my first interview of the day, and he always strikes me as a guy who knows how silly the press junket format can be, and he guards himself, using humor to make it an easy day and to also deflect anything too personal.  He's good at making you feel at ease, and I would imagine that makes people feel like they can cross that line with him.  It's an illusion, though, and I wanted to keep things light.

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<p>Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel&nbsp;Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Critics Circle awards ceremony</p>

Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony

Credit: AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca

11th hour thoughts on the eve of the nominations

See you bright and early tomorrow

Okay, so I went back and fiddled with some things this morning before getting on my flight to LA. It's all reflected there and in this afternoon's big gallery story presenting my final predictions along with Greg Ellwood's and Guy Lodge's.

I love how zany this year is. So much that we "know" about an awards season can just be thrown out the window. But of course, there will always be those who claim to have "the knowledge." Don't let 'em fool you.

I have a few wishes, if I might toss them out there. I'd like to see "The Grey " show up. Anywhere. Doesn't matter the category. Any hint that it was seen and loved, that would be great, thanks. (Fat chance, I know.)

I would like to see the actors do the right thing by Emmanuelle Riva. It's the year's best performance, a brave portrayal in the actress's twilight years. And frankly, I'd love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant right there beside her. Indeed, Trintignant and Samuel L. Jackson are my left-field hopefuls that have a fair enough chance to surprise.

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<p>&quot;5 Broken&nbsp;Cameras&quot;</p>

"5 Broken Cameras"

Credit: Kino Lorber

'5 Broken Cameras,' 'Detropia' pick up top prizes at Cinema Eye Honors

A great year of docs well-represented throughout

As I wrote last weekend when I broke down this year's Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature, I really wish I had caught up with "5 Broken Cameras" earlier in the season. It is quite simply one of the most astonishing pieces of work I've seen all year and could easily have figured on my top 10 list (where "The Queen of Versailles" was already featured -- it's been such a great year for the form).

I was happy, then, to see the news that the film took the top prize at tonight's Cinema Eye Honors. Such a bold and respectable call in a year that sees "Searching for Sugar Man" virtually dominating the scene (and likely to win the Oscar, too). I still feel good about the film's chances for a nod; after this win (not that this is an overly predictive), it's clear it has support.

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<p>Kaya Scodelario in &quot;Wuthering Heights.&quot;</p>

Kaya Scodelario in "Wuthering Heights."

Credit: Oscilloscope Pictures

The Long Shot: A salute to the non-contenders

Featuring my ideal-world Oscar ballot

Right, 'tis the night before Oscar Nomination Day, and plenty of creatures are still stirring. Many pundits are still feverishly tweaking their prediction lists, cross-referencing precursor lists and previous years' editions for clues, but like my HitFix colleagues, I've let mine go. These, for better or (probably) worse, are my final guesses -- some pragmatic, some playful -- and I don't much feel like shuffling them any further.

Nor, really, do I feel like talking about them much further. I could use this column to explain the method (minimal) behind my eight-nominee Best Picture lineup or the madness (maximal) behind predicting a Best Original Song nod for "The Sambola!," but any such rationalizations reach their sell-by date in just a few hours' time. I could look ahead to the next stage of the race, and the contenders likeliest to win it, but thanks to the Academy's reconfigured calendar, we still have over six weeks left in which to exhaust that topic. (Thank heavens we have some festivals in the interim to break up the conversation.)

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"Top Chef: Seattle"

 "Top Chef: Seattle"

Credit: Bravo

'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Battle Before the War'

It's time for restaurant wars!

So, Dallas John is gone and that leaves the title of resident jerk to Stefan. I actually like Stefan in all his sexist crankiness (I ate at Stefan's at L.A. Farm and have to say the food was wonderful, so I'm biased). Of course, Stefan misses Dallas John. He was his morning friend! I like the idea that Stefan has friends assigned to certain times of day. Perhaps that's as long as he can stand someone. 

Wolfgang Puck joins Padma for the Quickfire Challenge. The chefs will be working with one of the most refreshing ingredients in the world -- ginger! I thought this might be a product crossover and Padma was going to say, "Diet Coke!" but not this week. Oh, wait, this is the Canada Dry Quickfire Challenge -- I was JOKING about the Diet Coke, people! Egads!

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"American Horror Story"

 "American Horror Story"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story' recap: 'Spilt Milk'

Could things actually be looking up for some of Briarcliff's victims?

Preparing to watch "American Horror Story," I braced myself for another round of bleak, bad news. I mean, the middle name of this show is horror, for crying out loud. There's no room for happy endings, or upbeat twists, or feel good resolutions in this cruel genre. Okay, in most horror movies someone survives after running for his or her life and cleverly outsmarting the bad guy and possibly choking said bad guy to death with chicken wire or inch-thick rope, but he or she is usually horribly scarred and needs a great deal of therapy and looks like he or she is going to cry as the credits roll. So, not exactly the stuff of Hallmark movies. 

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<p>J.J. Abrams</p>

J.J. Abrams

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

J.J. Abrams briefly discusses the end of 'Fringe'

Original co-creator talks about what he knew from the beginning
You probably know this already, but it's worth a reminder: J.J. Abrams is a busy guy.
 
In addition to working in post on his upcoming "Star Trek" sequel, Abrams' Bad Robot TV shingle has a busy roster that has made him a surprisingly regular presence at the Television Critics Association press tour this week, popping up to panel NBC's "Revolution" and dropping by FOX's TCA party to support the end of "Fringe."
 
Abrams was one of the three original creators of "Fringe," along with Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and he has remained a strongly interested creative force through the five-season run which will be wrapping up on January 18.
 
Along with a fellow reporter -- Credit on the non-HitFix questions to Will Harris -- I got a quick two-on-one chat with Abrams on Tuesday (January 8) night, talking for five minutes about the conclusion of "Fringe" and his reflections on the sci-fi drama's 100-episode run.
 
Click through for the full conversation.
 
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<p>&quot;Keep the Lights On&quot; was the one film to score in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year categories.</p>

"Keep the Lights On" was the one film to score in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year categories.

Credit: Music Box Films

'Les Mis' leads Gay and Lesbian Critics nods

Other nominees range from 'Argo' to 'Pitch Perfect'

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics' Association has added its list of nominees to the very tall pile, and in a wholly non-stereotypical turn of events, "Les Misérables" leads the film field with four citations, including one particularly likely to aggravate its detractors -- for Visually Striking Film of the Year. "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Lincoln" join"Les Mis" in the top category, but there's more individuality to be found in the more specialized races, where the pleasingly alliterative trio of "The Perks of Being  a Wallflower," "The Paperboy" and "Pitch Perfect" all feature, while "Keep the Lights On" scored in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year fields. Full list of film nominees below; everything else at The Circuit.

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<p>This photo tells you everything you need to know about the relationship between Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new action film 'The Last Stand'</p>

This photo tells you everything you need to know about the relationship between Johnny Knoxville and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the new action film 'The Last Stand'

Credit: HitFix

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville discuss their unlikely partnership in 'The Last Stand'

Everything about this makes me smile

I've been interviewing Johnny Knoxville for what seems like a decade now, and living in LA, I find that I run into him on a fairly regular basis just out and about.  Perhaps because of the hyper-casual nature of "Jackass," he never seemed like a celebrity, but more like a friend who just happens to have a TV show.  That's part of the appeal of that program, and Knoxville is one of the easiest guys to talk to about his work that I've ever met.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is someone I've watched my whole life but who I never had reason to meet until last week.  Then, in one quick burst of three days, I rode a tank that he was driving, saw his new film "The Last Stand," and then sat down to interview him for the first time.  I could have happily spent a half hour talking to him by himself, but of course, that's not how these press days are set up.

Instead, you walk in, you get your four or five minutes, and then you're done.  And in this case, I had two people in one room.  Thankfully, the pairing of Knoxville and Schwarzenegger is just weird enough to be really entertaining, and the film they both star in surprised me enormously.

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