DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
2013
Dec
31
 
 
If you want some background entertainment for your New Year’s Eve party, or just some foreground entertainment to slip nicely from one year to the next, here’s a strong option. TCM is presenting a triple feature of all three editions of That’s Entertainment, which are nothing-but-highlights compilations from the history of MGM musicals. The first one came out in 1974, and gathered as co-hosts an absurdly talented group of entertainers – all of whom are represented in the
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
31
 
 
This is the second annual New Year’s Rockin’ Eve since the death of Dick Clark, who launched the franchise in 1972. ABC, out of respect, retains Clark’s name in the title, but the host these days (and these midnights) remains Ryan Seacrest, with help – if you can call it that – from Jenny McCarthy.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
30
 
 
This 1973 martial arts action film, now 40 years old, belongs on a serious film network such as Sundance because it’s a) such an early example of international movie marketing, which is all but mandatory these days, and b) perhaps the most famous and impressive screen appearance by Bruce Lee. And yes, it’s worth watching for all that, but I’d also humbly suggest c) Ahna Capri, who plays the mysterious and beautiful Tania. Forty years later, I remember being stunned by Lee&rsquo
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
30
 
 
A new reason to revisit this intense 2012 war film directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by Mark Boal? Not that you should need one, but here’s one anyway: Watch for the small but crucial appearance by the late James Gandolfini, who plays a powerful politician critical to the continuation of the plan to find and target Osama bin Laden. He plays the part perfectly, with strength, compassion and not a little humor – which, come to think of it, were three of his strongest attributes as a
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
30
 
 
At the moment, Joaquin Phoenix is getting raves for his starring role as the man obsessed with his computer’s operating system in Her. Last year, he got raves for his role in this movie, playing an aimless war veteran who falls under the wing of a charismatic religious leader, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or, what I said about Phoenix goes for Amy Adams as well: She got raves for her role in The Master (playing Hoffman’s wife) a year ago, and right now she’s getting rave r
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
30
 
 
This Oscar-nominated documentary traces the origins of activist groups, such as TAG and ACT UP, in the early days of AIDS, when fear was much more plentiful than knowledge and reason. Check local listings.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
30
 
 
Spike Lee wrote and directed this smart, intense 1989 movie about racial unrest and uneasy neighbors in Brooklyn. And there are plenty of strong performers and performances here, including Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Danny Aiello, John Turturro and Lee himself – but if you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ll want to pay particular attention to Giancarlo Esposito as Buggin’ Out, decades before he played the ultimate bad guy on Bad as Gus Fring.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
29
 
 
This prime-time game has major postseason implications: The Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) and Dallas Cowboys (8-7) are battling for the NFC East crown in a win-or-walk game, with the season on the line. Both teams are starting backup quarterbacks, but with a decided edge to Philly. On the Dallas side, Tony Romo is missing the game and undergoing back surgery, giving backup QB Kyle Orton his first NFL start since the 2011 season finale. Meanwhile, on the Eagles’ side, backup QB Nick Foles has n
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
29
 
 
Tonight, TCM honors the late Peter O’Toole by presenting an evening of some of his best work. The night begins at 8 p.m. ET with his classic 1962 David Lean epic, Lawrence of Arabia. A midnight (ET) special, Peter O’Toole: Live from the TCM Film Festival, produced last year, follows, and the evening ends with a wonderful double feature: 1969’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips at 1 a.m. ET, paired with 1982’s delightful My Favorite Year at 3:45 a.m. ET.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2013
Dec
29
 
 
Always one of the best and most inspiring TV specials of the year, the 2013 edition of the Kennedy Center Honors honors one actor (Shirley MacLaine), one opera singer (Martina Arroyo), and three popular musicians (Billy Joel, Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock). Vintage performance clips and new tributes put their lives and works in context, and each year’s show leaves me feeling better about what TV can do when it really, really tries to aim high.