Recent success for Mumford and Sons and others indicates a surge in the popularity of folk music: "When taken along with the success of the Fleet Foxes and Decemberists, the Mumfords’ triumph looks more like a trend than a fluke. Sure enough, Mumford & Sons aren’t the only group topping the Rock Songs chart with a decidedly un-rock mix of instruments like mandolin and strings. The Lumineers, a group out of Colorado, also hit #1 with their song 'Ho Hey.' Last year’s Grammys acknowledged the new trend by putting Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers on stage alongside Bob Dylan, arguably the most important figure in the history of folk music. Just a few weeks ago, the Avett Brothers debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts with 'The Carpenter,' one notch behind Dylan’s 'Tempest.'" POP MATTERS
Guy Lodge considers whether the December glut of prestige films is a winning strategy: "What do the last seven winners of the Best Picture Oscar all have in common? ... none of them were first released Stateside in December ... Yet clearly the studios have as much conviction in the December release strategy as ever, if not more so – this season's slate is veritably stuffed with major titles that have dodged the festivals and are gearing up for a late unveiling, before descending upon spoilt-for-choice ticket buyers in the last month of the year. 'Les Miserables,' 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Django Unchained,' 'Promised Land' and 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' are among the unseen heavyweights taking that tack, while already-debuted titles that are nonetheless taking their chances in the December whirlwind include 'Amour,' 'The Impossible,' 'Quartet' and 'Not Fade Away.'" IN CONTENTION
Is "Flight" a contender for Oscars beyond Denzel Washington? "Coming this week we've got two films whose names might be mentioned on Oscar night. The big one is 'Flight,' which is a strong Best Actor candidate thanks to Denzel Washington's lead performance, and could also slip into the Best Picture race if it opens strong-- we'll talk more about that next week. Washington showed up in a poncho on last night's hurricane-altered Letterman show, which could only help his cause. It also occurs to me this week that Kelly Reilly ought to be campaigned for Best Supporting Actress, an incredibly weak category where it wouldn't be difficult to slip in a new name." CINEMA BLEND
Steve Pond on the eclectic mix at the AFI Fest: "With a lineup that ranges from awards-season Hollywood premieres to a formidable group of international auteurs, the AFI Fest has carved out a schizophrenic but fruitful identity on the festival circuit. But as important as it is as a key launching pad for Oscar contenders, and as effectively as it serves as a Hollywood landing strip for hard-to-find, Cannes-tested art movies, it may be best known as something else: the free film festival." THE WRAP
Performers line up for Hurricane Sandy relief telethon: "NBC will air a one-hour telethon and concert Friday night featuring Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and others to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. 'Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together' will be hosted by 'Today' show's Matt Lauer at NBC's Rockefeller Plaza studios. The show will also feature Sting and Christina Aguilera, Jimmy Fallon, and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. It will be broadcast simultaneously on NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy, USA and NBC.com. It will air at 8/7c on the East Coast and be tape-delayed for the West Coast. NBC said the money raised from the event will be donated to the American Red Cross." THE WRAP
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.