Oscars News: What are the 5 ‘burning questions’ for Oscar host Neil Patrick Harris?

Kyle Buchanan asks five “burning questions” about the choice of Neil Patrick Harris as the next host of the Academy Awards. He feels like it was an inevitable selection following his previous efforts on the Tonys and Emmys. He wonders if this is a good sign for “Gone Girl” since Harris is a co-star in that film. Could Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler now host the Oscars someday? Does the Academy now “value stability” above all else? Did Seth MacFarlane recommend Harris for this gig? Might he sing with previous host Hugh Jackman like they did on the Tonys? Vulture

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Oliver Gettell says that six of the past eight Brad Pitt movies have been dark and gritty. With possible Oscar contender “Fury” opening next, how does it compare to his other recent work that has included heavy doses of violence and themes such as “the cost of freedom” and “the nature of humanity.” He discusses “The Counselor” (2013), “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “World War Z” (2013), “Killing Them Softly” (2012), and “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). L.A. Times

Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio announce that “Inherent Vice” will be the centerpiece gala film at the upcoming AFI Fest in Los Angeles. The Paul Thomas Anderson detective film noir will screen at the Egyptian Theatre on November 8. They call the film “bloated” at 148 minutes but also “exhilarating” and a “must-see for any self-respecting cinephile.” Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Reese Witherspoon, and Martin Short, the movie received mixed reviews at the New York Film Festival and remains a question mark for potential awards, especially at the Oscars. Thompson on Hollywood

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Is Michael Keaton now the man to beat for Best Actor?

Jenelle Riley says “the old adage tells us there are no small parts, only small actors.” With that in mind, how much does size matter for this year’s Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars? For past champs Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) and Beatrice Straight (“Network”), it didn’t matter at all with just a few short minutes on screen. For 2014, possible contenders with brief roles are: Laura Dern (“Wild“), Vanessa Redgrave (“Foxcatcher“), and Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts (all for “Birdman“). Variety

Todd McCarthy explains why the film adaptation of “Les Miserables” worked with audiences and awards voters/critics while “Jersey Boys” did not. He asks, “Why can the same material that’s smashingly sucessful in one medium prove an utter flop in another?” Other upcoming Broadway musicals ready to debut on the big screen are “Into the Woods” and “Annie.” Some big successes across the board in the past included “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Oliver!.” Hollywood Reporter

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