News Nuggets Roundup: Three Oscar rules that need to change

Mark Harris explains three Oscar rules that need to change, including a need to adapt to new technology: “Video-on-demand is an increasingly important revenue stream for foreign, independent and art-house movies, and films shouldn’t have to sacrifice their Oscar chances because moviegoing habits are evolving. I know some Academy members who feel strongly that their mission is to preserve the primacy of theatrical distribution. They’re wrong. Their mission is to reward the year’s best movies, and to respond with a flexibility that keeps pace with the way those movies are seen. With its one-week [unannounced qualifying run in Los Angeles], ‘Melancholia‘ followed the letter, if not the spirit, of the law. But maybe both the spirit and the letter need reexamining.” GRANTLAND

Is “Contagion” one of the top ten contenders for a Best Picture nomination? “The realism and importance in the story will appeal to Oscar, as will the star-studded ensemble cast and director Steven Soderbergh’s tendency to put the focus on his performers. The only thing that might hurt it is the lingering public anger over the government’s handling of the 2009 flu pandemic that some claim was an overreaction, despite real dangers and pandemic level outbreaks. But I think the odds of that are low.” FORBES

Oscar-nominee Anne Hathaway joins the cast of “Les Miserables”: “Hathaway will play Fantine, and her participation had been rumored for some time. [Russell Crowe] plays Inspector Javert and [Hugh Jackman] Jean Valjean. The film’s being directed by Tom Hooper, who helmed the Oscar-winning ‘The King’s Speech.’ Universal has set the picture for release in the center of next year’s Oscar race with a December 7, 2012 release date.” DEADLINE

The Descendants” cast and crew hold a Q&A in New York: “On Saturday night, following a joint SAG/BAFTA screening of Fox Searchlight’s ‘The Descendants,’ I moderated a Q&A with the film’s co-writer/director Alexander Payne and almost all of the members of his great cast: best actor hopeful George Clooney; best supporting actress hopefuls Shailene Woodley and Judy Greer; and Beau Bridges, Nick Krause, Matthew Lillard and 11-year-old newcomer Amara Miller … I’ve moderated Q&As with a lot of people before — I think I had six for ‘Black Swan’ last year — but never one with eight people, which is a lot to juggle. Still, it couldn’t have been more fun, largely due to Clooney’s incomparable wit and charm.” HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Magnolia picks up Oscar-nominee Sarah Polley‘s “Take This Waltz”: “Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Sarah Polley’s ‘Take This Waltz,’ a bittersweet drama about a love triangle that premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Polley (‘Away From Her’) wrote, directed and produced the movie, about a young woman (Michelle Williams) struggling to choose between the husband she loves (Seth Rogen) and a handsome artist who moves in across the street (Luke Kirby). ‘Magnolia has distributed some of my favorite films of the last few years,’ said Polley, in a statement … Magnolia intends to release the film early next summer.” EW.COM

Will “The Artist” be one of the few romances to win Best Picture? “Most films have love stories in them, of course. But those movies that are about a central love story between two people seem rare, perhaps because there isn’t enough importance to them … However, it’s worth saying that when they do win, they win big. Of course, epics always win more Oscars, but you have to acknowledge how the heart can sometimes get involved when you look at a movie like ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ which is our model this year for ‘The Artist,’ should it come to pass that the little silent that could wins Best Picture, as it super-charges its way through Oscar season, attempting to remain stealth and on the downlow.” AWARDS DAILY

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