Oscars news: 323 films eligible for Best Picture, Ava DuVernay (‘Selma’) remembers Roger Ebert

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A staggering 323 feature films are eligible for consideration at this year’s Oscars. To qualify, a film of at least 40 minutes in length has to open in a movie theater in L.A. county by Dec. 31, exhibit in either 35mm, 70mm or an equivalent digital format and run for a minimum of seven days straight. In addition, it cannot have been exhibited or distributed in any other way prior to its theatrical release. Oscars

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 19 categories

Debra Birnbaum has a compelling interview with Rene Russo who, she reports, “after several years away from the big screen returned with a killer role: as an overzealous news producer opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler.’ The movie, which was written and directed by her husband, Dan Gilroy, has drawn comparisons to ‘Network’ for its searing indictment of the news business.” Variety

Chides Matt Patches, “If you still haven’t seen Steve James’ congenial ‘Life Itself’… get on that. Along with being a thorough look at film critic Roger Ebert’s life — the good, the bad, and the hilarious — it’s filled with anecdotes from creatives whose lives he touched over the years. A regular on almost every festival circuit, Ebert championed young filmmakers and earned friendships along the way. One such person: Ava DuVernay, who just earned a Best Director Golden Globe-nomination for her film ‘Selma.” ” And, as he concludes, “If you’re susceptible to sweetness, the rest of DuVernay’s story may make you teary-eyed. HitFix

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Bill Desowitz speaks with cinematographer Roger Deakins “the 11-time Oscar nominee and the guru of naturalism who provides his most beautiful work for Angelina Jolie‘s powerful ‘Unbroken,’ the biopic about Olympic runner turned war hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell).” he concludes thus: “When he’s inevitably nominated, will the 12th time be the charm for Deakins? He’s long overdue for an Oscar after being especially overlooked for ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There,’ ‘No Country for Old Men,’ ‘The Assassination of Jesse James,’ and ‘Skyfall.'” Thompson on Hollywood

Observes Scott Feinberg, “Come Oscar time, male-skewing movies have taken home the grand prize 78 percent of the time. Translation? ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Wild’ could scare off the guys, while ‘Foxcatcher’ and ‘American Sniper’ could click with them.” THR

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