Fox(NEW YORK) — You have to wonder why someone would want to tackle another film version of the story of Moses. Putting aside the fact that it’s only going to be compared to 1956’s iconic The Ten Commandments, I can certainly understand wanting to make an updated version that benefits from 60 years of improved movie and beard technology. But I couldn’t help but think while watching this 2.5-hour epic: “Why Moses, why now?” And the best I could come up with was, “why not?” Which isn’t a great answer.

Director Ridley Scott is certainly no stranger to epic films, having directed Gladiator to a best picture Oscar in 2001. But when compared to that film and other epics in the same vein, like Braveheart, Exodus: Gods and Kings falls short. It should certainly be a prime candidate for an Oscar, given its director, its star, its subject matter, and when it’s being released. But Exodus: Gods and Kings isn’t part of the Oscar conversation at all. And that’s rather telling, especially in an awards season that’s begging for something to break out of the pack.

Exodus: Gods and Kings begins with Christian Bale as our hero, Moses, all buddy-buddy with the future Pharaoh Ramses, the two of them raised basically as brothers and commanding the Egyptian army almost side-by-side. But soon Moses learns the truth — that he’s actually Jewish and not an Egyptian prince — and he’s cast out of the kingdom by his former best friend. He wanders the desert for a while, finds a wife, has a kid, and learns he can talk to God (who oddly takes the form of a British child with a buzz cut). God then encourages Moses to return to Ramses’ kingdom and lead the Hebrew people out of slavery.

Exodus: Gods and Kings doesn’t deviate much at this point from the story that’s familiar to many of us, which may be part of the problem. It’s hard to build tension when we know where it’s all going. No, Moses doesn’t die in that wall of water. Also, the story is so focused on the struggle between Moses and Ramses that it does little to develop the minor characters. Which is a shame, because great actors including Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, and Aaron Paul, are given very little to do.

And let’s talk about the accents. I guess we can try and pretend it’s not weird that Moses has an English one, Australian actor Joel Edgerton plays Ramses with what sounded to me like a slightly Scottish lilt, and Moses’ wife, Zipporah, speaks English with a Middle Eastern flair. It’s head-scratching. Some of the characters look and sound more authentically of the region where the story takes place, while others appear as if they’d be more comfortable in a production of King Lear. Honestly, it’s a little distracting.

Vague accents and ethnicities aside, there is some solid stuff to chew on in Exodus: Gods and Kings. Where the movie is most interesting is in the treatment of the ten plagues, which are graphically depicted in all their brutal glory, finishing with the death of the first-born sons of the Egyptians. During this stretch of the film our sympathies and allegiances are almost reversed: instead of rooting for Moses and the Jews, we now feel really bad for Ramses and the Egyptians, as the story hammers home the reality that the God of the Old Testament could be a vengeful S.O.B. When Bale’s Moses argues with the little British boy-God about right and wrong, the struggle is complex and thought provoking.

It’s not that Exodus: Gods and Kings is a bad film. It’s not. Christian Bale broods effectively, the sweeping shots of Egyptian cities are spectacular, and Ridley Scott knows full well that his shot of Moses and Ramses on horseback in front of a gargantuan tsunami threatening to swallow them whole is a frame of film among the most dramatic and beautiful we’ve seen all year. Exodus: Gods and Kings is certainly watchable, and at times entertaining. But if you’re going to tackle the story of Moses, shouldn’t it be more than that?

In the end, Exodus: Gods and Kings is a well-made, big-budget Hollywood movie that’s short on heart. Its flaws aren’t fatal, and there’s enough good stuff to keep it interesting. But don’t expect to be inspired.

Three out of five stars.

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ABC/ Lorenzo Bevilaqua(NEW YORK) — Scarlett Johansson took on a new role this year – female action hero. In Lucy, she played a woman powerful enough to destroy the world, and in the blockbuster Marvel Comics movies, she played Black Widow. Those roles were a far cry from what she’s doing in her real life – taking care of her new baby.

In an interview with Barbara Walters for the two-hour ABC News special Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2014, Johansson, 30, talked about becoming a mother with her new husband, French creative director Romain Duriac.

“It’s wonderful, and exhausting,” Johansson said of having a child. “The love is just unbelievable. It’s very overwhelming.”

Johansson said she cares for her daughter herself, from changing diapers to breastfeeding.

“The whole bit,” she said. “I’m nursing, and I love it, I love it. It’s the best way to get back in shape.”

Johansson, who will next star in the film Avengers: Age of Ultron, scheduled to open in May, has been working as an actress since she was eight years old.

When not in front of the camera, Johansson tries to avoid the spotlight, and said she lives a “pretty low-key lifestyle.” One exception to that was her marriage to actor Ryan Reynolds, which landed her first in the tabloids and then in divorce court, four years before she secretly married Duriac.

“I think being in a committed relationship takes work… It’s challenging, but when it works, it’s really worth it,” Johansson said.

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ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — The nominations for the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring the best performances in film and TV in the past year, were announced Wednesday, and celebrities are reacting to the news.

Here’s a round-up of some of their comments so far:

Jennifer Aniston (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Cake): “This is the best 6 a.m. wake up call ever. Words can’t describe how blessed I feel to be recognized like this by my peers for this film. What an Enormous feeling of joy and gratitude.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries, The Honorable Woman):
“Making ‘The Honorable Woman’ was one of the most inspiring and exciting experiences of my career so far, and I’m thrilled to be nominated for my performance in it. Hugo and the cast were beyond amazing, and I’m so grateful that SundanceTV and the BBC took a chance on this show. Also, it’s pretty awesome that my brother and I are going to be there together!”

Matthew McConaughey (Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, True Detective): “To Rustin Cohle — the best outlaw west of Woody Harrelson and the best detective in the business — thanks to [writer] Nic [Pizzolatto] for the ownership and to my fellow actors for the nomination.”

Julianne Moore (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Still Alice): “Wow! What a thrill to be nominated — it means so much when it comes from your peers. Thank you SAG, and thanks for including me with these wonderful actresses. Yay, what a great day!”

Eddie Redmayne (Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, The Theory of Everything): “To be nominated by my peers, and to be included in a list that is comprised of so many actors I admire, is an incredible honor. And to be recognized alongside Felicity [Jones] and my castmates means the world. Huge, huge thanks to SAG-AFTRA; I am beyond grateful.”

Emma Stone (Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Birdman): “This is a huge honor and I’m pretty much stunned. To be in a category with three women I respect so much — and one I’ve never heard of but I’m sure is also great (Meryl Streep?) — is just incredible. The fact that these awards are voted on by other actors makes it even more exciting. As a thank you, I hope to work with every single one of them one day in a giant, one-take movie I’m planning, starring this upstart Meryl Streep.”

The 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

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Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS(NEW YORK) — We’ve known since April that David Letterman’s leaving The Late Show next year. Now, we know when.

CBS announced on Wednesday that May 20, 2015 will be Letterman’s last day behind the Late Show desk, after which Stephen Colbert will take over. Colbert’s debut date has not yet been announced.

“David Letterman has given to all of us a remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance that will never be forgotten,” said CBS President Les Moonves in a statement. “It’s going to be tough to say goodbye, but I know we will all cherish the shows leading up to Dave’s final broadcast in May.”

Letterman is currently the longest-running late night host on American TV, having begun on Feb. 1, 1982 as host of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, which re-defined the genre for every generation thereafter. He jumped to CBS on Aug. 30, 1993 after NBC passed him over in favor of Jay Leno to succeed Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show.

The night he steps down, Letterman will have hosted 6,028 total episodes of both Late Night and The Late Show.

Also on CBS, Craig Ferguson’s last broadcast as host of The Late Late Show after 10 years is Dec. 19. British actor James Corden will make his debut as the show’s host on March 9, 2015.

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NBC(NEW YORK) — As tough-talking detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay is rarely at a loss for words.

But in a new series of public service announcements about domestic violence and sexual assault, the 50-year-old Emmy winner shows just how difficult it is for her and other celebrities to talk about the subject.

“There was no one who didn’t have a particular line resonate so deeply that they had to take a moment to gather themselves,” Hargitay, who directed the spots and whose Joyful Heart Foundation produced them, told ABC News.

The new series of PSAs, titled “Speechless,” which start rolling out on Wednesday, are comprised of just those moments. The new spots, which are visually spare and use only ambient sound, weren’t planned. They were the unexpected — and unscripted — byproduct of emotions that ran high while shooting previously aired spots in the “No More” campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

In the previous PSAs, which began airing in September, celebrities, as well as current and former NFL players, are seen speaking out against domestic violence. The NFL rolled out the spots during game times amid a number of high-profile cases involving NFL players and domestic violence.

But Hargitay said the celebrity campaign had been in the works since she founded Joyful Heart for sexual assault survivors 10 years ago. It was after joining forces with No More that the campaign got momentum.

Once the celebrity PSAs began airing during NFL broadcasts, Hargitay said, “Players started reaching out, wanting to be involved, wanting to speak out. Some came because they had personally experienced violence and abuse, others because they felt moved to take a lead in bringing change. But their lives — and their souls — had been touched by these issues.”

The first “Speechless” spots featuring current and former NFL players and directed by Hargitay, along with Blair Underwood and Tate Donovan, aired during NFL broadcasts on Thanksgiving Day for more than 92 million viewers.

Next up, the three directors as well as Hargitay’s SVU co-stars Chris Meloni and Ice T, Andre Braugher, Hilary Swank, Tim Gunn, Mary J. Blige, Debra Messing and more will appear.

Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro is among them.

He told ABC News that he got involved because the issue of domestic violence is “pretty close to my heart.”

When he was 15, Navarro’s mother Connie Navarro was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. John Riccardi spent nearly a decade on the run, until he was finally captured in 1991 after the case was featured on America’s Most Wanted. He’s currently serving life without parole in a California prison.

“It was a horrific relationship that ended in tragedy,” Navarro said, adding, “it affected my life greatly.”

“I have first-hand knowledge how these types of situations can escalate. The fact is the realm of the impossible is in fact possible, which is why it’s important for me to get the word out now,” said the 47-year-old rocker, speaking on behalf of Viacommunity, Viacom’s social impact umbrella.

“We are trying to raise awareness so people can get help or even assess their situation,” he said. “The denial is so thick that sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp of one’s self within a conflict. But if someone can see themselves in the campaign, maybe they can reach out for help.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Though Navarro and his fellow celebrities are showing just how hard it is to talk about domestic violence in the new spots, their goal is really to get the conversation started.

“The fact is we are having a conversation,” Navarro said. “I wouldn’t be talking to you about this experience in my life if not for this.”

Added Hargitay, “Most simply put, we want these spots to bring these issues out of the darkness and into the light.”

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Fox/Searchlight(LOS ANGELES) — Birdman and Modern Family lead the nominees for the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring the best performances in film and TV in the past year.

Birdman, starring Michael Keaton as a former superhero actor staging a comeback with a one-man stage show, leads the film nominees with four nods. For television, ABC’s Modern Family scored the most nominations, also with four, followed by Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Homeland and House of Cards, all of which each earned three nominations each.

Fox Searchlight Pictures was the studio to receive the most nominations for its films, with six nods, followed by Sony Pictures Classics, with four nods. On the TV side, HBO led all networks with 14 nominations, with ABC, Showtime and Netflix tied for second, with five each.

Debbie Reynolds will receive the highest award from the Screen Actors Guild, the 51st SAG-AFTRA Life Achievement Award.

Ansel Elgort and Eva Longoria announced the nominees in West Hollywood, California Wednesday morning. The 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

See the complete list of nominees here.

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Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO(NEW YORK) — Game of Thrones tops the list of most-mentioned TV shows on Facebook this year, according to the social network. The HBO series is followed by Orange Is the New Black, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory and Downton Abbey.

According to Facebook’s Year in Review website, Frozen, Guardians of the Galaxy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the top three most-mentioned movies. Maleficent and The LEGO Movie rounded out the top five.

Beyonce tops the list of most-mentioned entertainers on Facebook in 2014. She is followed by Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift.

Jimmy Fallon, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Pitbull, John Legend and Kim Kardashian round out the rest of the top 10.

The lists were compiled by measuring how frequently certain topics were mentioned in Facebook posts throughout the year.

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ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — It didn’t take long for Nicole Kidman to realize that Keith Urban was the man for her. They dated for less than a month before walking down the aisle.

“I’m spontaneous. I jump in,” she reveals in the January issue of Elle magazine. “I kind of like getting married and then getting to know each other; I know that it sounds incredibly strange, but to me, it’s a more natural process.”

It worked out as the two have been married for eight years now and have two kids together.

And if it were up to the actress, she’d have even more children. “I had my last one at 43,” Kidman said. “My grandmother had her last at 49. Every month, I’m like, ‘I hope I’m pregnant!…Why not, right? I wish I was!”

Kidman will next star in Paddington, based on the popular children’s book series by Michael Bond. The film hits theaters Jan. 16, 2015.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Happy news from Dancing with the Stars pro Lindsay Arnold. She just got engaged to boyfriend Sam Cusick.

The 20-year-old announced the happy news in an Instagram post Tuesday.

“Just when I thought our day in Africa couldn’t get any better….We are engaged!!” she wrote.

Her close pal, fellow Dancing with the Stars pro Witney Carson also took to Instagram to share her excitement over the news.

“My best friend in the whole entire world got engaged to the love of her life today!” she wrote. “I am crying tears of joy, I could not be happier!! I love you guys, congrats!!!”

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