News Nuggets: Why are so many Oscar contenders dropping like flies?

Scott Feinberg asks why are so many of this year’s Oscar contenders “dropping like flies”? He has “never seen anything like this year,” where major players like “The Monuments Men” (George Clooney), “Grace of Monaco” (Nicole Kidman), “Foxcatcher” (Steve Carell), and “The Immigrant” (Marion Cotillard) have all been pushed into 2014. Hollywood Reporter.

Anne Thompson has an exclusive video interview with Oscar contender Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club“). She calls his performance “extraordinary for its honesty and understanding” of a straight Texan fighting HIV. After gaining some precursor awards and mentions last year but not earning an Oscar nod, she says he is “overdue.” Thompson on Hollywood/Indiewire.

Sasha Stone provides a “state of the race” analysis of the Academy Awards one month before the critics start weighing in. She calls 2013 “a year of so many great films it makes a contest to find the best almost beside the point”. She is hoping smaller gems like “Mud,” “Before Midnight,” and “Fruitvale Station” will be remembered now that the bigger films are angling for position. Awards Daily.

Oscar-winning director, writer, and producer Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”) is ready to return to smaller films when he finishes up the next two big budget “Hobbit” movies. His career started in 1994 with the fantasy indie “Heavenly Creatures” starring Kate Winslet. He said, “We just want to step off the Hollywood blockbuster thing for a while.” HitFix.

For the second consecutive year, the most valuable star in Hollywood is Robert Downey, Jr. A complete list of 100 performers gives the lowdown on each actor and actress. The top 10 also includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Christian Bale, Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, and Johnny Depp. Vulture.

Amy Kaufman profiles recent Yale graduate Lupita Nyong’o and her Oscar-contending performance in “12 Years a Slave.” She says it was a “harrowing challenge” to play a slave and that she had to “roll up her sleeves and do the work” regardless of the tough conditions. L.A. Times.

After 14 years as one of the top shows on CBS, “C.S.I.” celebrates its 300th episode Wednesday night. Former cast member Marg Helgenberger returns as Catherine Willows to help solve an unsolved case from 2000. TV Guide.

The late Lucille Ball returns to CBS December 20 as the network is dusting off a rare “I Love Lucy” Christmas special from 1956 and colorizing it. It will be paired with the classic episode “Lucy’s Italian Movie” (featuring the famous grape stomping battle). The last time the network aired the Christmas show was in 1990, and it brought in over 18 million viewers. Entertainment Weekly.

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