Ben Kingsley discusses "Hugo" and the future of cinema technology: "Some filmmakers are saying that if we stretch this technology any further, it's going to snap. We need to harness this technology into a tool for telling beautiful stories. If we just harness it for a chain of special effects, the audience will leave the cinema having eaten too much popcorn, and that’s about it. I think it's a bad investment to just patronize the audience and say, 'Oh, just give them special effects, they're fine because they have no attention span anyway.'" THE WRAP
Watch Deadline's "The Contenders" panel discussion in full: "Deadline Hollywood has always tried to innovate while other showbiz media outlets merely imitate. So I created a two-day event completely free to participants and invitees called ‘The Contenders’. Twelve studios and distributors, both major and indie, presented their Award contender films directly to invited members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and select Hollywood Guilds. Attendees heard from over 40 filmmakers including producers, writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, and costume designers." DEADLINE
Oscar voters confused by new ballots: "The Oscar ballots that are arriving in voters' mailboxes, however, contain only five spaces in which a voter can nominate a film for best picture, which some voters are concerned is an error on the part of the Academy, since they -- understandably enough -- expected 10 spaces ... The reason that voters are only being asked to name five films instead of 10 is that the current 'preferential' voting system rewards films that appear highly on the most ballots, not films that merely appear somewhere on the most ballots. In other words, it seeks to identify films that many people love, not that most people like." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Awards Daily is hosting a Producers Guild predictions contest: "The producers are going to confirm much of what we already know — there are easily ten Best Picture candidates. What the Producers might do is launch the notion of 'Harry Potter' into the mix. They also might throw in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' (wishful thinking, I know). Had 'Mission Impossible' (is it 3 or 4, I lost count) come out earlier it might have seen more action at the Critics Choice and perhaps the PGA, since it’s doing so well." AWARDS DAILY
Broadway's "Private Lives" closes early: "The Broadway revival of 'Private Lives,' which co-stars Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross, plays its final performance at Broadway's Music Box Theatre Dec. 31. The limited engagement was originally scheduled to run through Feb. 5. When it closes following the matinee performance, the Noel Coward comedy will have played 12 previews and 53 regular performances ... Producer Paul Elliott said in a previous statement, 'Despite fantastic reviews, ticket sales have been slower than we had hoped for and it would be irresponsible to continue running into the notoriously difficult January period.'" PLAYBILL
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.