Nuggets: Steve Pond predicts ‘The Descendants’ as Best Picture; Sasha Stone previews Best Actor race

Steve Pond takes a bold early stab at predicting Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars: “I don’t trust Steven Spielberg‘s ‘War Horse‘; Spielberg may be Hollywood royalty, but he hasn’t directed a Best Picture nominee in six years (‘Munich’) and a Best Picture winner in 18 (‘Schindler’s List’), and the material seems too likely to succumb to emotional manipulation. (Not that the Academy dislikes emotional manipulation, mind you.)” THE WRAP

Lindsay Flowers reports that Li’l Wayne, fresh off the blockbuster first-week sales of his new album, leads the BET Hip Hop Awards with 18 nominations: “His noms include Best Hip Hop Video, Reese’s Perfect Combo Award (Best Collab), Best Live Performer, Lyricist of the Year, MVP of the Year, Track of the Year, Made-You-Look Award (Best Hip Hop Style), Best Club Banger, Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse, Hustler of the Year and two consecutive nominations for Verizon People’s Champ Award (Viewers’ Choice) with videos ‘Look At Me Now’ and ‘6 Foot 7 Foot.'” HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Joel Keller laments that the Emmys lack the cachet of the Oscars and Golden Globes: It doesn’t matter that ‘Mad Men‘ or ‘Sons of Anarchy‘ or any number of shows are of higher quality than 95 percent of big-screen offerings these days. And it doesn’t matter that people are watching TV on screens that are almost as big as a small multiplex screen. Movies are ‘bigger’ and its stars are ‘bigger,’ at least in the eye of most of the public.” ZAP2IT

Kyle Buchanan sizes up the early Oscar contenders: “DOWN: Ryan Gosling (‘The Ides of March‘). ‘Ides’ is no longer Gosling’s sure-thing ticket to a nomination, but at least it frees him up to concentrate on a dark-horse bid for ‘Drive.'” VULTURE

Sasha Stone takes a look at the year’s top Oscar contenders for Best Actor: “If there is one movie that seems to be getting near-universal acclaim it’s ‘The Artist.’ It could charm the pants of a dead man. Even the most hard-boiled hipsters among us melt when they watch the lyrical tribute to movies themselves. And much of the reason for the success of the film, it must be said, is [Jean Dujardin].  Everything that happens in that movie happens on his face.” AWARDS DAILY

Mike Fleming reports that the sci-fi film “Europa,” currently in pre-production, is being shopped around at the Toronto Film Festival: “‘District 9’s’ Sharlto Copley is set to star with ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s’ Michael Nyquist, Anamaria Marinca (she starred in the Palme d’Or winning ‘4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days’), and Asian superstar Daniel Wu. Wayfare Entertainment is fully funding the film, and Misher Films’ Kevin Misher is producing with Wayfare’s Ben Browning.” DEADLINE

Controversial Oscar-contender “Shame,” starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, has ignited a bidding war according to Kris Tapley: “I first reported out of Telluride that Fox Searchlight was looking like a good possibility to pick up Steve McQueen’s brilliant, stirring — and naughty — ‘Shame,’ and expanded my thoughts on that possibility in Tuesday’s Off the Carpet column. Well, it looks like Deadline’s Mike Fleming is hearing similar things, and not just that Searchlight is in the mix, but that the film is kicking up a bidding war ahead of its Toronto bow.” IN CONTENTION

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