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The empire in decline.

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Jon Stewart may have designated this year’s Oscar ceremony the post-strike “make-up sex,” but it was more like a wistful catch-up drink with your ex in which you’re both so busy bringing up the old times that neither of you actually manages to get around to finding out how the other is doing in the present. From the opening montage of action movie moments and superstars to the never-ending bombardment of montages of past presenters, past acceptance speeches, past musical numbers (including an apparently nostalgic wink at the infamous 1989 Rob Lowe/Snow White debacle), past winning films and everything short of a montage of best death montage milestone, this year’s backward-glancing awards were more concerned with the way we were than the way we are. Case in point: After giving the much-deserved win for Original Song to “Once,” a real heartwrencher of a competition with the number from the scrappy $100,000 movie pulling out in front of three entries from 18-time nominee Alan Menken, the PTB cut the latter half of the singer/songwriter team, Markéta Irglová, off before she could say a word in favor of more taped reminiscences from more famous former winners who were presumably given the chance to get in at least a few sentences before getting played off the stage. Host Stewart had to retrieve Irglová after the commercial break to give her a moment to deliver her impassioned thank you speech.

It’s not such a surprise that the Oscars have become a misty remembrance of times past — 2007 was a year of great movies that audiences mostly passed up in favor of threequels that, “Bourne Ultimatum” aside, no one could laud. Marion Cotillard may have done a hell of an Edith Piaf impersonation in “La Vie en Rose,” but you could feel the award show producers all but drumming their nails when she won — if the film’s $10 million box office take, pretty good for an indie French film, were any indication, most of the viewing audience had no idea who she was. “Oh, for the days of ‘Hello, gorgeous!'” you could hear them sighing as they cut, again, to tape. “What the fuck will happen to the ratings?”

For me, the strangest part of the whole ceremony was finding myself, for the first time in memory, in total agreement with the Academy — “No Country for Old Men” was the best motion picture of the year and a brilliant encapsulation of our national mindset. But that’s not what the Oscars are all about, right? Or if it is, and this inexorable creep toward Indiewood and the international continues, then maybe it’s about time the Academy embrace that, rather than stiltedly ignoring the fact in favor of how things used to be.

Bits and pieces worth remembering:

Josh Brolin apologizing to Jack Nicholson for the poor quality of his Nicholson impression.

Stewart suggesting that rather than canceling their Oscar party out of respect for the writers, Vanity Fair could actually invite some next time.

Javier Bardem taking a bow after his acceptance speech — everyone should make their exits so gallantly.

That photo of “Roderick Jaynes.”

A glowing Daniel Day-Lewis thanking the Academy “for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town.”

Tilda Swinton! She seemed as surprised as anyone to win, but if you didn’t prepare a speech, dedicating much of your time to making fun of George Clooney is an excellent way to cover. To relive: “George Clooney, you know, the seriousness and the dedication to your art, seeing you climb into that rubber bat suit from ‘Batman & Robin,’ the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume, on the set, off the set, hanging upside-down at lunch, you rock, man.” Seriously.

[Photo: Ethan Coen: “Thank you very much” — Darren Decker / ©A.M.P.A.S.]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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