Oscars news: Reese Witherspoon on ‘Wild’ career shift, ‘Selma’ makes history

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In a fascinating interview, Mike Fleming delves into the reasons that Reese Witherspoon has undergone such a radical career shift. “I grew up watching actresses like Debra Winger and Gena Rowlands and saw contemporaries like Naomi Watts and Julianne Moore take all kinds of risks. I’d take meetings with development executives who’d tell me what audiences wanted to see me do. ‘You can’t curse, have sex scenes or do drugs.’ I realized how detached I’d gotten from the films I wanted to make. I started this production company, Pacific Standard, with Bruna Papandrea with a whole new directive: to tell stories that had some lasting effect and reflected who I am as a dynamic, 38-year-old woman who’s had a lot of life experience.” Deadline

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 19 categories

Kris Tapley talks to Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker who reveals that “mornings like these always turn out to be bittersweet. Because for all of the attention that movies like ‘Foxcatcher,’ ‘Leviathan,’ ‘Still Alice‘ and ‘Whiplash’ may have received from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — a nice cross-section representing the diversity of the SPC slate — there are others like ‘Mr. Turner,’ ‘Saint Laurent’ and ‘Wild Tales’ left on the sidelines. But ‘Foxcatcher’ in particular is surging as of late, no thanks to the early critics groups that have virtually ignored the film. In Contention 

Sasha Stone notes: “Ava DuVernay made history today becoming the first black female director nominated for a Golden Globe Award. While it was looking not so great for ‘Selma‘ after the SAG shut out and the dismissive “New Generation” award from the LA Film Critics, the more high profile (and more gender-diverse, to be sure) HFPA went for ‘Selma’ in a big way.” Awards Daily

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Cara Buckley chats with J.K. Simmons, the Oscar frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing turn in “Whiplash.” As he admits, “Part of the joy of doing this movie, and much of the joy of talking about this movie, is giving Miles a lot of [grief], because that’s, for whatever reason, the relationship that he and I conveniently settled into was just like sort of big brother, little brother, like we’re on the same college baseball team or probably middle-school sports team. Just in the locker room giving each other a hard time.” New York Times

Ryan Lattanzio writes: “In a year of 83 record submissions, a pack of critically applauded frontrunners stand out in a lively foreign Oscar race defined by quality and quantity, including Poland’s ‘Ida,’ Belgium’s ‘Two Days, One Night’ and Russia’s ‘Leviathan.’ Yet if I had my pick of the lot, here are five standout entries due for consideration, and in the case of Finland’s ‘Concrete Night,’ US distribution as well. You can catch all five at the Palm Springs International Film Festival next month.” Thompson on Hollywood

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