Oscars news: Benedict Cumberbatch on ‘The Imitation Game,’ Reese Witherspoon feted by Palm Springs filmfest

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In the intro to a must-read interview, Pete Hammond writes, “Benedict Cumberbatch is having quite a year. After winning the lead actor in a movie or miniseries Emmy for his iconic role as Sherlock Holmes, he also will be making waves again as Smaug in the ‘Hobbit’ finale this holiday season, as well as voicing a key role in another holiday offering, ‘The Penguins Of Madagascar.’ But it is his widely acclaimed role as thwarted genius Alan Turing in ‘The Imitation Game‘ that promises to break him out into the stratosphere with its already deafening Oscar buzz. But Cumberbatch, in a recent conversation, clearly seems more interested in the role itself than all the hoopla surrounding his portrayal.” Deadline

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 19 categories

As Glenn Whipp notes: “Since the film academy began handing out the best director Oscar in 1929, you can count the number of women who have been nominated on one hand — Lina Wertmüller for ‘Seven Beauties’ (1976), Jane Campion for ‘The Piano’ (1993), Sofia Coppola for ‘Lost in Translation’ (2003) and Kathryn Bigelow, who took the prize for ‘The Hurt Locker’ in 2009. This year, voters have the opportunity to make history, possibly rewarding two women — Angelina Jolie (‘Unbroken‘) and Ava DuVernay (‘Selma‘) — with nominations for historical dramas possessing deep feeling and admirable craft. If nominated, DuVernay would become the first black woman so honored in Oscar history. Los Angeles Times

Add Reese Witherspoon‘s name to the list of honorees at this year’s Palm Springs filmfest. The star of “Wild” and producer of “Gone Girl” is to be feted with the Chairman’s Award at the Jan. 5 gala.  Two of her Oscar rivals — Julianne Moore (“Still Alice) and Rosamund Pike, who replaced Witherspoon in “Gone Girl” — will also be there to pick up prizes. PSIFF

Interstellar” writer/director Christopher Nolan will be honored by the Art Directors Guild at the 19th annual edition of its kudos on Jan. 31 with the Cinematic Imagery Award. The prize is bestowed on a filmmaker whose body of work has enhanced the visuality of moviegoing. Past honorees include: Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. ADG

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Jeff Labrecque chats with “CitizenFour” director Laura Poitras about her documentary which details  the revelations of Edward Snowdon. “Amazingly, Poitras’ camera is there at the moment when Snowden explains why he decided to go public, to be a heroic whistleblower on a still-unquantifiable abuse of power — or, depending on your perspective, a traitor who stole and gave away invaluable American spy secrets.” EW

Says Mark Harris: “It should shock even the cynical that the state of high-quality, challenging leading roles for women in Hollywood movies is now so dire that this year, the Best Actress conversation –what there’s been of it — has taken place in a way that has almost no correlation to movies that 99.9 percent of moviegoers have even had the opportunity to see. We’ve been talking about the Best Actress race as if actresses — adult women who are given central, movie-carrying roles of depth and range — are actually permitted to participate in Hollywood’s current economy outside of YA and genre movies. They aren’t. This has become an award for Best Exception To The Rule.” Grantland

Scott Feinberg previews the SAG Ensemble Award race: “Even those at SAG-AFTRA who vote for the award (nominees are determined by a nominating committee and winners by the full membership) are not quite sure what it aims to recognize. Some take it literally and seek to reward casts that performed the most cohesively together; others only consider films with large casts; and still others back the casts of the film’s they liked best, since there is no SAG Awards equivalent for best picture. The smart money seems to be on the category’s five slots going to some combination of eight films — ‘Birdman,’ ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Into the Woods‘ and ‘Selma‘ — but they, and several other contenders, each have various things working for and against them. THR

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