Oscars News: Do Oscar voters take things too seriously?

Tim Gray asks if we and Oscar voters are “taking thing too seriously.” He welcomes “a trippy, lively” contender like “Birdman” because too many in the race are “Serious with a capital S.” Nobody would want to be at a dinner party with the somber characters from “Foxcatcher,” “The Imitation Game,” “A Most Violent Year,” or “Unbroken.” He adds that it might be a perfect year for Academy members “to think outside of the box” with crowd-pleasers like “Gone Girl,” “The Lego Movie,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Variety

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Peter Bart and Mike Fleming, Jr. discuss the “lively” Oscar race for Best Actor this year. Fleming calls Bill Murray a “delight” in the new film “St. Vincent” and notes how accessible he has been promoting the movie. He refers to Michael Keaton as “another respected vet who turns in a career performance” in “Birdman.” Bart says Benedict Cumberbatch might be “a sentimental favorite” in “The Imitation Game” because he plays “a brilliant, if doomed, genius” mathematician. Deadline

Sasha Stone wonders what an Oscar “frontrunner” really means. After 16 years, she now knows that “the Oscar race is a rigged game” because it continues to be “controlled mostly by studios and publicists.” There are several still “sight unseen” movies, so she would rather predict Ava DuVernay (“Selma“) for Best Director than Angelina Jolie (“Unbroken“) since a “potentially bravura” performance by David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. “SEEMS like it COULD be a frontrunner.” She adds that it is “pure speculation” because “there really is no THERE there. Not yet.” Awards Daily

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Ethan Alter says that if you only know Steve Carell “as the world’s funniest 40-year-old virgin, prepare to have your image of him radically transformed.” The new Bennett Miller film “Foxcatcher” has been featured this week at the New York Film Festival. Carell “literally disappears into the dark” role of John du Pont, convicted murderer of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo). He adds that Carell has been a strong Oscar contender since the first screening last May at Cannes. Yahoo Movies

Steve Pond interviews J.K. Simmons about his frontrunner status as Best Supporting Actor. He co-stars in “Whiplash” as Terence Fletcher, a music school teacher who berates his musicians as supposed motivation. Most of his career has been in character parts (“Oz,” “Juno,” “Spider-Man”), so Simmons says, “I have no illusions about being a movie star. I’m just glad to be able to work.” The Wrap

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