Latest Blog Posts

<p>Helen Hunt in &quot;The Sessions.&quot;</p>

Helen Hunt in "The Sessions."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Academy regains its Sundance connection

After last year's meager showing, today's nods again prove the indie fest's power

Though it's long been a prime scouting-ground for future documentary nominees, the Sundance Film Festival has, in recent years, hatched a growing number of Oscar contenders in the bigger-ticket categories.

"Little Miss Sunshine," "Precious," "An Education," "The Kids Are All Right," "Winter's Bone" -- all of them bowed big at the January fest, and then managed the significant feat of sustaining buzz for an entire year before securing Oscar nominations for Best Picture. Ditto such acting and screenwriting nominees as "Frozen River," "The Savages," "The Messenger" and "Animal Kingdom." The Sundance-to-Oscar stretch is one of the longest roads in the campaigning game, and those who survive it deserve a lot of credit: as a small-scale indie, it's hard enough to get attention even with a fall debut, but counting on the length of voters' memories and the strength of word of mouth is a dicey strategy.

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<p>ABC President Paul Lee</p>

ABC President Paul Lee

Credit: ABC

Press Tour 2013 Live-Blog: ABC Executive Session with Paul Lee

Expect updates on 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' from the ABC president

It's party time for ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee. 

Expect questions about the failure of of "Last Resort" and the upcoming production on Joss Whedon's "S.H.I.E.L.D."

Click through...

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<p>Kaitlyn Jenkins, Julia Goldani Telles, Emma Dumont and Bailey Buntain are the &quot;Bunheads.&quot;</p>

Kaitlyn Jenkins, Julia Goldani Telles, Emma Dumont and Bailey Buntain are the "Bunheads."

Credit: ABC Family

Press Tour: 'Bunheads' talks fast, plots slowly, and is better for it

Amy Sherman-Palladino, Sutton Foster and friends have figured their show out

ABC Family's "Bunheads" is a show that many critics (myself included) felt took a while to find itself in its initial summer run. But when the dramedy about a showgirl (Tony winner Sutton Foster) who becomes a dance teacher in a small California beach town returned with new episodes on Monday, it had very clearly figured itself out. There was a very strong balance between comedy and drama, and between Foster and her younger co-stars — who seemed like afterthoughts way back in the pilot.

When the cast and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino came to press tour(*) this morning to discuss the show, all acknowledged that there was something of a learning curve.

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<p>Jennifer Lawrence at the People's Choice Awards Wednesday, Jan 9. </p>

Jennifer Lawrence at the People's Choice Awards Wednesday, Jan 9.

Credit: AP Photo

Jennifer Lawrence says best actress nomination for 'Silver Linings Playbook' is 'unreal'

'Gonna definitely have more fun' at her second Academy Awards

A two-time Oscar nominee at the age of 22?  The face of one of Hollywood's biggest new franchises? Yep, life is good for Jennifer Lawrence.

The "Silver Linings Playbook" star spoke with HitFix about her second best actress nomination this morning calling the news, "unreal."

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Justin Timberlake announces that new music is on the way...

Justin Timberlake announces that new music is on the way...

When and what remains to be seen, though it could be very soon

“What does the next decade mean for me?,” Justin Timberlake asks in a new video posted by the superstar at 9 a.m. today.

And the answer appears to be new music---sooner rather than later.  Seven years after 2006’s “FutureSex/LoveSound,” Timberlake finally seems “ready” to put out new music. In the video, we hear Timberlake’s voice over footage of the artist walking into a studio with the final shot of him putting on earphones and declaring “I’m ready.”

A countdown clock then appears, that, if it’s telling us what we think it’s telling us, means, Timberlake will have new music (maybe a single, maybe an album) as early as 3 days from now--though it seems odd that he’d release anything on a Sunday. It all depends upon how you interpret the countdown clock, although it seems to clearly be counting down seconds, minutes, hours and days.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>'Les Miserables'</p>

'Les Miserables'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Did the Oscars get it right for best original song with Adele and 'Les Mis?'

The five contenders yield a few surprises

After last year’s Best Original Song debacle when only two songs were nominated, the Oscars got their footing back this year with five solid, if somewhat surprising, nominees.

To be sure, Adele’s “Skyfall” was the one song that seemed a foregone conclusion after it was deemed eligible (there was some initial doubt since it pays such a healthy homage to the original Bond theme). But its frontrunner status was due just as much, if not more, to Adele than to 007‘s revived franchise. And don’t presume she’s the frontrunner now: No James Bond theme has ever won an Oscar. Still, the song—written by Adele and Paul Epworth is lush and dramatic and a worthy entry.

The other sure bet was “Suddenly” from “Les Miserables,” the new song, written for the film by the stage musical’s original composers, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boubil, and performed by Hugh Jackman.  It fills a role similar to previous Oscar winner  “You Must Love Me” from “Evita” or nominee “I Move On” from “Chicago,” both of which were added into the movie versions of the plays to give them potential Oscar contenders (and it worked). 

The Academy Awards deemed a staggering  75 songs eligible for contention this year  The remaining three slots, quite frankly, could have been filled by any number of contenders, but went to “Chasing Ice’s”  “Before My Time,” written by J. Ralph and performed by Scarlett Johansson and violinist Joshua Bell, “Life of Pi’s” “Pi’s Lullaby,” written my Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri,” and “Everybody Needs A Best Friend,” written by Walter Murphy and Oscar host Seth McFarlane” and performed by Norah Jones.

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” is a sweet throwback to the big band era with a toe-tapping feel and a sweeping arrangement. The song also appears during a fun montage smack-dab in the film.

“Before My Time” runs over the end credits for “Chasing Ice,” a documentary about photographer James Balog’s effort to tell the story of climate change by placing time-lapse cameras across the Arctic. It’s an appropriately morose, spare, low-key ballad led by Johansson’s more than serviceable vocals, Bell’s always-haunting beautiful playing and the composer himself on piano. While Ralph is no doubt hoping for a repeat of Melissa Etheridge’s win for “I Need To Wake Up” from the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” he’s not likely to win, especially given that the doc didn’t make the cut for best original documentary.

Not to be flippant at all, but I didn’t realize that “Life Of Pi” even had a song in it when I saw it. Maybe I was still too consumed by the meerkat island. It turns out it is a lilting, magical tune by film composer Danna with lyrics by Jayashri, performed by Jaysahri. Given how enamored the Academy is with “Life Of Pi,” it could pull off a big surprise here. It could be this year’s “Jai Ho.”

Though only five songs can be nominated, there were some surprising snubs that I would have expected to fill the slots that went to “Best Friends” and “Before My Time.” Notable omissions include “Learn Me Right” from Best Animated Feature nominee Brave,” as well as any songs from “Django Unchained,” and “Song of the Lonely Mountain” from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

Both "Skyfall" and "Suddenly" are up for Golden Globes on Sunday. Fellow Golden Globe nominees "For You" from "Act of Valor" and "Not Running Anymore" from "Stand Up Guys."   “Safe & Sound,” from “The Hunger Games,” wasn’t eligible for an Oscar.

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<p>Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for &quot;Beasts of the&nbsp;Southern Wild&quot;</p>

Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar brings surprises aplenty as frontrunners miss and fairytales come true

The 85th annual nominations packed an intriguing punch

Well, then. That was a cold blast of water to the faces of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow this morning. The directors of "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" respectively failed to be nominated for their films, each of which were frontrunners for a potential win in the Best Picture race leading into today's announcement and assumed nominees for their work on the CIA thrillers. But without a Best Director nod, it's generally a little tough to take the big prize, and so, the biggest shock of the day is their failure to get in.

They each yielded to perhaps the most surprising nominee of the day, Benh Zeitlin, director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Talk about a big, beautiful success story. Sundance is gearing up for another run in just one week and to see this film last a whole year (it debuted at Sundance 2012 where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight) and particularly see this strong a showing (Quvenzhané Wallis was also nominated in the lead actress category, the youngest actress ever to have the honor) is just lovely. Congrats to all involved.

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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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