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Review: Kesha Makes a Defiant Return with Powerful New Single and Video “Praying”

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Review: Kesha Makes a Defiant Return with Powerful New Single and Video “Praying”
Review: Kesha Makes a Defiant Return with Powerful New Single and Video “Praying”

Though Kesha’s Auto-Tune-drenched club hits earned her a reputation as a party girl, there were hints of a more introspective artist at the heart of tracks like “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” and “Animal,” both from her 2010 debut, Animal. Her record label’s decision not to release even a midtempo cut as a single from the album was a missed opportunity to not only deepen Kesha’s image, but broaden her fanbase and ensure the kind of longevity that many of her more humanized pop contemporaries have enjoyed.

Film Comment Selects 2013: Wish You Were Here

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Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>Wish You Were Here</em>
Film Comment Selects 2013: <em>Wish You Were Here</em>

From the opening montage alone, it’s clear that Australian director Kieran Darcy-Smith plans to play his cards close to the vest in this maddeningly underwritten thriller/domestic-drama hybrid. Cutting from neon-streaked sequences of the four principals holidaying in Cambodia to cryptic shots of the protagonist, Dave Flannery (Joel Edgerton), staggering shirtless and bloodstained through a pre-dawn landscape, the prologue is pregnant with portents and possibilities. Unfortunately, the initial promise isn’t quite carried through to the end.

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

That a now slimmer, totally unfunny Seth has been nominated for an Oscar before McLovin’ (whose take on Evil Ed was, if no patch on Colin Ferrell’s smoldering Jerry in the Fright Night redo, still a more fully realized character than Moneyball’s Peter Brand, movies’ all-time flimsiest amalgamate) is the only kink in a category preoccupied with old men getting real with their feelings. Which is why no one should’ve been surprised in the slightest to see Albert Brooks given the cold shoulder: His Drive heavy had no feelings to bloviate (though the compassion he showed one of Drive’s supporting characters even while taking his life away should’ve been more properly noted). I’m not sure whether Brooks should take it as a compliment or an insult to have been excluded, but it has to sting a little bit that Hill’s downright catatonic bullpen pencil pusher usurped him in what seems clearly this year’s biggest coattails nod.

Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor
Oscar 2012 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

Long before he delivered an über-classy acceptance speech at last night’s Golden Globes, a speech that Oscarcast producers are surely hoping he has the wherewithal to repeat, Christopher Plummer had the Supporting Actor race all sewn up. For his tender turn as Ewan McGregor’s late-blooming gay father in Beginners, the 82-year-old has been racking up the precursors, climbing toward a Kodak Theater standing O that’s been in the cards since his movie dropped last June. If he were to lose, by the freak chance that voters were cool with slighting one of cinema’s most beloved Oscar-less veterans, Plummer’s trophy would go to Albert Brooks, who went way against type in Drive, playing a calculating Hollywood shitbag who cuts throats (Producers Branch? Check.). The third lock in this category is Kenneth Branagh, who hammed it up royally as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (a knee-jerk candidate since his gig was announced, Branagh owes much to the casting director, whose thespian-as-thespian stunt exceeds the actual work).