Linda Holmes

It's one delight of doing a lot of TV criticism: Some shows really sneak up on you. It's just so much fun when it happens.

When we invited our buddy Sam Sanders, of the It's Been A Minute podcast, to talk to us about the Winter Olympics, we didn't even remember that in 2014, he helped NPR cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi. As it turned out, in addition to his usual insight and thoughtfulness, Sam possesses relevant experience!

Gary Oldman is probably the frontrunner to win the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the historical drama Darkest Hour, which is also up for best picture. This week, we dive into the film to separate its stately ... well, Oscar-ness ... from its actual virtues. Do actors get extra points for playing real people? Should they? How much does it matter if an entire film turns on an invented scene?

"Less plot, more ladders."

That's a philosophy espoused by a college friend of mine with a fondness for Jackie Chan movies. Chan is known for incredibly inventive action sequences in which he fights using whatever is handy — including, in First Strike, a ladder. But what my friend does not want from Jackie Chan movies is a lot of time unwinding a boring, byzantine plot. Less plot, he would demand. More ladders.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night. You could be forgiven for not expecting it — it's never happened before. And on this historic occasion, Stephen Thompson and I sat down Monday morning to talk with some of our favorite panelists about the game and the surrounding entertainment. With us is Katie Presley, a New Orleans Saints fan without too much at stake in this game. But also with us is Gene Demby of NPR's Code Switch team. Gene is a longtime Eagles fan who had, in terms of fandom, a lot at stake in this game.

Allow me to be the first — and probably the last — writer to draw a comparison between NBC's new comedy A.P. Bio, premiering Thursday night, and Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread, which is nominated for best picture.

Hospital shows are a network TV staple. There are more than 625 episodes of just Grey's Anatomy and ER combined — and Grey's is still going. Just as last season, NBC found a hit in the fairly traditional family drama This Is Us, ABC has gotten lucky with the hospital show The Good Doctor.

Phantom Thread is only the latest Paul Thomas Anderson film to examine a troubled, perhaps toxic genius and the people in his orbit. Daniel Day-Lewis, in what he says is his last film, plays Reynolds Woodcock, a 1950s dress designer in London who lives with his sister and a succession of women with whom he eventually grows tired. When Woodcock meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), who serves him breakfast and gets his order right, he takes her into his house as his lover and muse. Their relationship is, to say the least, a little intense.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Academy Award nominations were announced today. And if you're looking for an early front-runner, you could do worse than Guillermo del Toro's romantic science fiction fantasy "The Shape Of Water." It led the way with 13 nominations including best picture.

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