Oscar news: Christopher Nolan writes ‘Interstellar’ comic, Shailene Woodley on #TFIOS

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As Mike Reyes notes: While he’s an integral part to the second act of “Interstellar“‘s story, Matt Damon‘s Dr. Mann isn’t seen for very long in the story at large. He’s mentioned in the first act, and not even thought of after his fiery demise. But for a good part of the middle act he’s a very important person that changes the flow of the story massively. If you were looking for a little bit more back story to Dr. Mann’s slow, inevitable descent into madness, Christopher Nolan has written a comic that explains some of Dr. Mann’s waking days before the big nap. Cinema Blend

Sasha Stone reports: “Unbroken” will be seen in various places before getting to critics and bloggers over here, mainly due to scheduling around the film’s director, Angelina Jolie, who will be doing appearances and Q&As to give the film the best possible landing. This is how films usually roll out at festivals, with directors there (at the very least) to give q&as after the screening. This does two things. The first, if “talent” is in the room the crowd is usually much more responsive. You can imagine how responsive they would be with Angelina Jolie in the room. But also it ensures people will at least SHOW UP to the screening, which ensures the film will be seen. In a competitive season, that becomes the most important thing. Awards Daily

Pete Hammond talks with Shailene Woodley, star of “The Fault in Our Stars” about “how her film affects people she meets who have faced cancer or other deadly diseases. The romantic drama about teens with life-threatening conditions has unlocked emotions for many audience members that they may have suppressed for years, Woodley says. She also discusses what helped the movie adaptation of John Green’s novel, shot for an estimated $12 million, become a breakout hit. It ultimately grossed more than $300 million worldwide for Fox, becoming one of the year’s most profitable films.” Deadline

Oscar experts: ‘Boyhood’ will win 5, ‘Interstellar’ 4, ‘Birdman’ 2

Kris Tapley recounts a recent conversation with Ava DuVernay about her committment to “Selma“: I sat down with the director to recount the mad scramble to the AFI finish (Oprah’s role in all of that is pretty great), as well as her vision for a story about the life of, in so many words, one of the great men to have lived…and died. It just reminds that “Selma” also serves as a wonderful educational tool, and I have no doubt DuVernay’s film will be informing young audiences about this key time in civil rights history for years to come. In Contention 

Add J.K. Simmons to the roster of talent being showcased by the Palm Springs filmfest. He is to receive the Spotlight prize for his performance in “Whiplash” at the Jan. 3 gala, joining previously announced honorees Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything“) and Julianne Moore (“Still Alice“) who are to receive the top acting awards. PSIFF

Oscars flashback: How smart or stupid were Experts at this point last year? 

For Anne Thompson: As ever, the Best Actress field is more fluid than more crowded Best Actor, where four slots are locked and multiple viable contenders are vying for that fifth place. Julianne Moore leads the fray. She is is heartbreaking in “Still Alice,” an intimate portrait of a brainy and beautiful Columbia University professor who has everything going for her: a satisfying career, a hunky loving husband (Alec Baldwin) and three thriving grown children. When she is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, she and her family struggle to cope as her memories and ability to navigate her world slowly slip away. After four nominations (two in 2002), this well-liked and respected actress has delivered the role that could win her the Oscar. Sometimes it’s just the right time. TOH

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