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Barbara Walters has announced the line-up for her annual “Most Fascinating” television show (as always, leaving one player-to-be-named-later spot at the end for a surprise).  This is the best she could do?  Pippa Middleton?  Her two achievements of 2011 were (1) being pretty and (2) having her sister marry a prince.  Many of Walters’ choices seem so-five-years-ago.  Donald Trump?  Simon Cowell? Derek Jeter?  The Kardashians????  Talk about shark-jumping.  I’m a huge “Modern Family” fan and love Cameron, Mitchell, and Lily, but I don’t think they reach the level of previous “most fascinating” subjects like General Petraeus, Betty White, Sarah Palin, Lady Gaga, Barack and Michelle Obama, or Justin Bieber.

I might pick Jessica Chastain, who appeared in five of the year’s most significant films, including “The Help,” “Tree of Life,” and “Take Shelter” or Brad Pitt for his performances in “Tree of Life” and “Moneyball.”  “The Help’s” Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis would definitely be on my list.  I might pick the NBA and the owners as the most fascinating sports story of the year and would have a tough time picking between Republican candidates Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Michelle Bachman, or Herman Cain as possible “fascinating” choices.  Elizabeth Warren would be high on my list as well.  Who do you think deserves this year’s “most fascinating” selection?

Join George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Seth MacFarlane and Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry Jr. for “Trek Nation,” tonight at 8 (Eastern and Pacific) on the Science channel for “Trek Nation,” with never-before-seen footage in a 45th anniversary of one of the greatest television franchises of all time, Star Trek.  This tribute follows Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, as he explores the deep impact of his father’s singular vision for the future through interviews with fans and many notable Star Trek alums.  The show draws on hours of exclusive footage, including never-before-seen home movies from the Roddenberry family collection and the first-ever Star Trek convention.

If you enjoy this, be sure to watch one of my all-time favorite documentaries, Trekkies and The Captains – A Film By William Shatner, Captain Kirk’s own take on the commanders of the Starship Enterprise.

Like the Presidential primaries, the end-of-year movie award lists get earlier all the time.  Here’s what’s come in so far:

Gotham Awards (for independent films)

Best feature: “Tree of Life” and “Beginners”

Best ensemble: “Beginners” New York Film Critics Best film: “The Artist”

Best actor: Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” and “Tree of Life”

Best actress: Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”

Best supporting actor: Albert Brooks in “Drive”

Best supporting actress: Jessica Chastain in three performances — “Take Shelter,” “Help,” and “The Tree of Life”

Best screenplay: “Moneyball”

Best documentary: “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”

Best foreign language: “A Separation”

Best cinematography: “Tree of Life”

Independent Spirit Nominations (for independent films)

Best feature “The Artist” “Beginners” “The Descendants” “Drive” “50/50” “Take Shelter”

Best director: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist” Mike Mills, “Beginners” Jeff Nichols, “Take Shelter” Alexander Payne, “The Descendants” Nicolas Winding Refn, “Drive”

Best screenplay Joseph Cedar, “Footnote” Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist” Tom McCarthy, “Win Win” Mike Mills, “Beginners” Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, “The Descendants”

Best first feature “Another Earth” “In the Family” “Margin Call” “Martha Marcy May Marlene” “Natural Selection”

Best first screenplay Mike Cahill, Brit Marling, “Another Earth” J.C. Chandor, “Margin Call” Patrick deWitt, “Terri” Phil Johnston, “Cedar Rapids” Will Reiser, “50/50”

John Cassavetes award (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000) “Bellflower” “Circumstance” “Hello Lonesome” “Pariah” “The Dynamiter”

Best female lead Lauren Ambrose, “Think of Me” Rachael Harris, “Natural Selection” Adepero Oduye, “Pariah” Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”

Best male lead Demian Bechir, “A Better Life” Jean Dujardin, “The Artist” Ryan Gosling, “Drive” Woody Harrelson, “Rampart” Michael Shannon, “Take Shelter”

Best supporting female Jessica Chastain, “Take Shelter” Anjelica Huston, “50/50” Janet McTeer, “Albert Nobbs” Harmony Santana, “Gun Hill Road” Shailene Woodley, “The Descendants”

Best supporting male Albert Brooks, “Drive” John Hawkes, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” Christopher Plummer, “Beginners” John C. Reilly, “Cedar Rapids” Corey Stoll, “Midnight in Paris”

Best cinematography Joel Hodge, “Bellflower” Benjamin Kasulke, “The Off Hours” Darius Khondji, “Midnight in Paris” Guillame Schiffma, “Pariah” Jeffrey Waldron, “The Dynamiter”

Best documentary “An African Election” “Bill Cunningham New York” “The Interrupters” “The Redemption of General Butt Naked” “We Were Here” Best international film “A Separation” “Melancholia” “Shame” “The Kid With a Bike” “Tyrannosaur”

Piaget Producer’s award Chad Burris, “Mosquita y Mari” Sophia Lin, “Take Shelter” Josh Mond, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Someone to watch award Simon Arthur, “Silver Tongues” Mark Jackson, “Without” Nicholas Ozeki, “Mamitas”

Truer than fiction award Heather Courtney, “Where Soldiers Come From” Danfung Dennis, “Hell and Back Again” Alma Har’El, “Bombay Beach”

One of the highlights of the movie-going year is the Washington Jewish Film Festival and this year’s line-up is spectacular.  As usual, the range of subjects and genres and countries is astonishingly varied and this year that also includes gender, with 19 of the film directed by women and a special award for DC-based filmmaker Aviva Kempner (Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg and The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg).

Some of this year’s highlights include:

“The Kissinger Sage: Walter and Henry, Two Brothers from Fuerth” For the first time the former Secretary of State and his “younger, richer brother” agreed to talk about their lives as Jewish children in Germany, their flight from the Nazis, and their experiences in America.  They return to the town that was their home and share personal mementos and photographs.

“Dolphin Boy” A teenager from an Arab village is traumatized by a brutal attack by his classmates and can no longer speak.  This documentary covers his therapy with dolphins and his struggle for healing.

“Reuniting the Rubins” British actor Timothy Spall (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) is an uptight lawyer whose mother (onetime Bond girl Honor Blackman) blackmails him into a reunion with his estranged children, including a hard-charging capitalist, an environmental activist, and a rabbi.

“Standing Silent” This timely story of a courageous Orthodox man who insisted on going public with evidence of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community demonstrates that victims can become survivors if they are given a voice.

“Mahler on the Couch” Tom Lehrer famously and hilariously sang of Alma Mahler and her romances with three of the most important men of the early 20th century.  This is a drama about Alma’s affair with architect Walter Gropius while she was married to composer Gustav Mahler and her treatment by Sigmund Freud.

Check out the WJFF schedule!