News Nuggets: What will be the big surprise Oscar contender late this year?

What will be this year’s “surprise” Oscar contender in several categories? After “Amour” came out of nowhere last year, Bryan Alexander believes it could be one of the following late 2013 releases: “The Book Thief” (Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson), “Out of the Furnace” (Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson), “Her” (Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson), “Labor Day” (Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin), or “Lone Survivor” (Mark Wahlberg). A complete calendar of upcoming movies is also featured. USA Today.

Could this year’s Oscar race be a similar split year like 2002 when the “difficult” film “The Pianist” lost the Best Picture race to the “crowd-pleaser” movie “Chicago”? Sasha Stone offers that “12 Years a Slave” might be in the “too depressing” frame of mind, so watch out for something like “Gravity,” “The Butler,” “Nebraska,” or “Captain Phillips” in the top race. Awards Daily.

“The big news remains ‘12 Years a Slave,’ which is drawing reasonably big crowds and declamatory raves (‘I cried!’ — Heterosexual Men) and remains at the epicenter of both awards chatter and cultural discussion,” says Mark Harris. Grantland

Glenn Whipp profiles the above-mentioned film “Lone Survivor” and its true life story adapted from a book by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. Based on recent events in Afghanistan, Luttrell is portayed by Wahlberg in the movie directed by Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights”). It opens in limited release for Oscar qualifying on December 27. L.A. Times.

Tina Fey returns with more comedy at NBC. Her Emmy-winning laffer “30 Rock” ended its seven-year run in January, and now Fey and co-producer Robert Carlock have a 13-episode commitment for a new show starring “The Office” supporting player Ellie Kemper. Titled “Tooken,” the premise centers around a young lady who escapes a doomsday cult and starts life again in New York City. TV Line.

On the 20th anniversary of his death, River Phoenix is remembered with an extensive video and photo retrospective. Featured are moments from “Stand By Me,” “The Mosquito Coast,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and his Oscar nominated performance in “Running on Empty.” Vulture.

NBC announces their November lineup of guests on “Saturday Night Live.” Kerry Washington hosts this weekend with musical guest Eminem. Lady Gaga will pull double duty on November 16. “The Hunger Games” co-star Josh Hutcherson hosts on November 23 with musical guest Haim. All three guest hosts will be first-timers on the long-running variety series. TV Guide.

Clayton Davis offers up a photo gallery of the top 10 great unnamed characters in movie history, just in time for the release of “All is Lost” with Robert Redford. Others featured are from such films as “12 Angry Men” (Henry Fonda), “Drive” (Ryan Gosling), and “Fight Club” (Edward Norton). Awards Circuit.

More American Music Awards performers are unveiled for the ceremony on November 24. Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis join the previously annnounced Miley Cyrus, Florida Georgia Line, Imagine Dragons, and One Direction. Associated Press.

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