Guy Lodge thinks "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva would be the Oscar frontrunner if it were an American film: "... it's the kind of showcase performance, with its self-evident degree of difficulty and devastating audience connection, that most Academy voters wouldn't hesitate to recognize if it came from within their ranks: if 'Amour' were an equivalently acclaimed US indie and a revered veteran like, say, Gena Rowlands were in Riva's place, I'd wager the Best Actress race might already be over. Yet ask many an awards pundit about Riva's chances, and they'll tell you the 85 year-old star will be lucky just to get the nomination – a feat, incidentally, that would make her the oldest lead acting nominee in Academy history. Subtitles remain a tricky barrier to any Oscar campaign, and Riva is in no position to do the extensive industry gladhanding generally required to surmount it." IN CONTENTION
Tony-winning "The Lion King" celebrates 15 years on Broadway: "The multiple Tony Award-winning musical The Lion King will celebrate 15 years on Broadway Nov. 13 at the Minskoff Theatre. Most of the musical's creative team will reunite for a one-night only celebratory performance Nov. 18 as a benefit for The Actors Fund ... In related news, 'Inside The Lion King,' which is described as 'the first immersive, pop-up exhibit ever created for a Broadway show,' arrives adjacent to Bryant Park for a limited time to celebrate 'Lion King's' 15 years on Broadway. Musical theatre enthusiasts can experience – and interact with – the music, sets, costumes, movement and show history of the Tony-winning production." PLAYBILL
"Lincoln" has Oscar potential, but could be a tougher sell to audiences: "'Lincoln,' an early favorite to win Oscar nominations, is no shoo-in at the box office. The movie, opening today in limited release, chronicles the 16th president’s campaign to end slavery, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It faces competition from two of the biggest pictures of the year -- 'Skyfall,' the latest James Bond installment, and the finale of the 'Twilight' vampire series ... 'Lincoln' is estimated to generate $94 million in North American ticket sales, according to researcher BoxOffice.com, which may mean it will lose money unless it pulls in crowds overseas. '"Lincoln" needs to catch on internationally to be profitable,' said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. 'Ninety-four million domestically would be seen as successful, but success at home is not enough these days. I’m sure they spent a lot of money marketing it.'" BLOOMBERG NEWS
AFI Fest announces its prize winners, including Audience Award winner "A Royal Affair". From the press release: "AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi announced today the features and short films that are the recipients of this year’s Audience and Jury Awards ... 'It has been an incredible year in film and we’re grateful for having had the opportunity to showcase so many wonderful films,' said Jacqueline Lyanga, Director of AFI Fest. 'Our desire is to have these films reach an even wider audience after these eight festival days, and that our jury and audience awards contribute to building an audience for these films.'" AFI
Joaquin Phoenix clarifies his comments about the Oscars: "Phoenix has now clarified his comments, insisting he didn't mean to put the Academy Awards in such a negative light because his previous nominations gave him a massive career boost. He tells the Sydney Morning Herald, 'You know what it's like, you sit and you bulls**t (in an interview) for a couple of hours. You just miss so much of what someone says when it's written down. I guess I sound like a d**k. I didn't even know that I was in a position to do something that would cost me something. But I know that first of all, I wouldn't have the career that I have if it weren't for the Oscars.'" WENN.COM
Jon Weisman wonders if there be another Oscar split between Best Picture and Best Screenplay: "'Did these films write themselves?' In the eyes of Oscar voters, the answer to that question has almost always been no: A best-picture nominee could virtually count on a screenplay nomination -- until recently. With awards season already percolating, it's high time to for a look at the screenplay races. And the changes in voting last year offer food for thought that will be troubling to some, but a source of hope to others ... during an eight-year period, only four nominated pictures didn't receive noms for screenplay. Then in 2011, the Oscars matched that total in a single year. The screenplays of best picture nominees 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,' 'The Help,' 'The Tree of Life' and 'War Horse' did not, apparently, impress the Acad. In contrast, 'Bridesmaids,' 'The Ides of March,' 'Margin Call,' 'A Separation' and 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' all received original or adapted screenplay bids, while failing to secure best picture noms." VARIETY
Three of the British imports that air on PBS under the umbrella title "Masterpiece" -- "Great Expectations," "Sherlock" and "Wallander" -- are being entered in the combined TV movie/miniseries races at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards.
Surprisingly, the pubcaster is not submitting the well-reviewed "Birdsong" (with Tony winner Eddie Redmayne and BAFTA nominee Joseph Mawle) . Nor is it entering the adaptation of Charles Dickens' unfinished novel "Mystery of Edwin Drood" (with Matthew Rhys) that was produced by the same team that won an Emmy for adapting his "Little Dorrit" for television.
Less surprising is the decision to drop the disappointing reboot of "Upstairs, Downstairs" (with Keeley Hawes and Ed Stoppard) from the lineup of contenders. This lavish update fell far short of the mark of the original, which won three Emmys for Best Drama Series and one for Limited Series.
Our odds have "Sherlock" reaping a bid for Best TV Movie/Miniseries at the Globes but losing to Emmy champ "Game Change." The SAG Awards do not include an ensemble prize for TV movies and miniseries as they do for comedy and drama series.
However, at the SAG Awards, which combine lead and supporting performances into one category, our odds have Costner winning, while Cumberbatch is in third.
News is not good for "Sherlock" sidekick Martin Freeman who is relegated to the catch-all supporting category at the Globes; he is down in 11th place. And, at the SAG Awards, where he has to contend against Cumberbatch, he is in ninth place.
"Wallander" star Kenneth Branagh is being touted for Best Actor at both kudos. He contended at the Globes two years ago for the first season, losing to Kevin Bacon ("Taking Chances"). He subsequently won the BAFTA for his performance as the Swedish detective. At the Globes, he is in fifth place on our chart while at SAG he sits in 14th place.
Which pony is really ahead in the Oscar Best Picture race? "Silver Linings Playbook" took the lead in early September at the Toronto Film Festival, but now "Argo" is out front, according to the Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby. Meantime, many formidable dark horses loom still unseen, including "Les Miserables," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Django Unchained."
'Tis time to track this race up close by powwowing with the experts. Here, in this video, I recruit the insights of HuffPo's gurus Michael Hogan and Christopher Rosen. You can see their Best Pic predix stacked up with other Oscarologists here and also view their predix in all categories by clicking these links: Hogan's predix, Rosen's rundown and mine.
Right now, Hogan and Rosen are betting on "Argo"; I'm riding "Les Miz."
"'Argo' has got a lot of different facets going for it," Rosen notes, citing "Ben Affleck's comeback as a narrative and being an actor-turned-director, which has worked in the past for actors like Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood."
"The movie is also a big wet kiss to Hollywood," Hogan adds, referring to its story line of moviemakers rescuing U.S. hostages from Iran. "It's full of gentle joking that flatters the community. He put together a movie that has a brain but also has a pulse."
I believe "Les Miserables" is out front because it's probably going to deliver the biggest emotional wallop of all top contenders, but beware: it's not going to be cool. Often that matters on the Oscar track where the winner needs a strong Rooting Factor. However, let's recall that there wasn't anything hip about "The King's Speech," which prevailed because of its strong emotional tug.
While Steven Spielberg's new film "Lincoln" is predicted to score a Best Picture bid at the Oscars, none of our Experts expect it to prevail. Half of them are backing "Argo" while seven forecast victory for the still unseen "Les Miserables" and two apiece are going with "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
However, Friday's slew of rave reviews for "Lincoln" could raise its profile among our Oscarologists as they have done with our Users. The film scores a jawdropping 93 at Rotten Tomatoes and 88 at MetaCritic.
Among its most enthusiastic fans was A.O. Scott (New York Times) who said, "'Lincoln' is a rough and noble democratic masterpiece - an omen, perhaps, that movies for the people shall not perish from the earth." Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) noted, "Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics" while Owen Glieberman (EW) enthused, "The movie is grand and immersive. It plugs us into the final months of Lincoln's presidency with a purity that makes us feel transported as though by time machine.
Six of our Experts have "Lincoln" in second place. Four of these have "Argo" winning Best Picture -- Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Michael Hogan (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) -- while Edward Douglas (Coming Soon) is backing "Les Miserables" and Steve Pond (The Wrap) favors "Silver Linings Playbook" for the win.
Among the other 20 Experts, "Lincoln" ranks as follows:
Fourth place -- Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Dave Karger (Fandango), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood/Indiewire), Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today)
When one thinks of the Best Production Design Oscar – previously known as Best Art Direction – the first thoughts that come to mind are of elaborate physical sets in live-action films: the Globe Theater in "Shakespeare in Love," the fearsome lair of the Pale Man in "Pan's Labyrinth," the recreated ship's interiors in "Titanic," all previous winners in the category.
But what about animated films? Their production design has never been honored, unless you count the live-action/animation hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" in 1988.
With the increasing sophistication of CGI, the line has blurred between real and virtual sets. The last four Art Direction winners were "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Hugo," films so effects-driven -- of the four, only "Alice" lost the Visual Effects race -- that to call them strictly live-action films would be a stretch.
This year, a number of animated films showcase significant production design. "ParaNorman," "Frankenweenie," and "The Pirates: Band of Misfits" are stop-motion films and thus use physical sets, much like Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which was not recognized at the Oscars but won the Production Design award from the National Society of Film Critics in 2009.
Several computer animated films create three-dimensional virtual settings, including Pixar's adventure film "Brave" and DreamWorks's upcoming "Rise of the Guardians," which features deep 3D environments that re-imagine familiar holiday settings like Santa's workshop at the North Pole.
Production Design is not the only aspect of animated films ignored by the Oscars. To date, three have been nominated for Best Picture – "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), "Up" (2009), and "Toy Story 3" (2010) – but none has ever been nominated for Best Director.
No voice actors have been nominated either, despite occasional precursor nominations: Ellen DeGeneres was nodded by the Chicago Film Critics Association for "Finding Nemo" in 2003, and Eddie Murphy earned a BAFTA bid for "Shrek" in 2001. Robin Williams won a special Golden Globe for his voice performance in "Aladdin" in 1992.
Performance-capture technology has blurred the lines between on-screen and voice-over work. Andy Serkis was digitally captured to animate the characters Gollum in "Lord of the Rings" and Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," but the Academy didn't nominate him despite widespread acclaim for both performances.
Animated films are frequently nominated for other achievements, including writing, sound, score, and song, but those are off-screen elements easier to directly compare to their live-action competitors. When it comes to visual crafts like production design, animated films need not apply.
Just as it did at the most recent Emmys, "Downton Abbey" will be submitted as a drama series at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. That marks a shift from the movie/miniseries genre where it contended last year.
As a miniseries, the first season of "Downton Abbey" won the top program prize at both the 2011 Emmys and Golden Globes. The SAG Awards do not include an ensemble prize for TV movies and miniseries.
Rather than try and pitch the second season as a sequel to the original miniseries, producers acknowledged it is now a full-fledged drama series. As such, it reaped 16 Emmy nominations, including Best Drama Series, but won just two awards -- Drama Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith) and Hairstyling).
Compare that to its success in the TV movie/miniseries genre at the 2011 Emmys where, in addition to taking Best TV Movie/Miniseries, it also won for directing, writing and for the supporting performance of Smith who was the lone acting nominee.
At this year's Globes, Bonneville and McGovern will face off against the younger generation with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery also being entered in the competitive lead drama acting races. Of this quartet, our odds only favor a nomination for Dockery.
However, Smith is favored to win the catch-all supporting actress category. Her recent Emmy rival Joanne Froggatt is also being entered in this race, but is not expected to even reap a bid. Neither are the two suprise Emmy nominees for supporting drama actor Jim Carter and Brendan Coyle.
At the 2011 SAG Awards, Smith was the only member of the cast who reaped a bid. These kudos do not differentiate between lead and featured performances on television (although they do for film work).
This year, she is being entered again in the combined drama actress race as is Dockery, but not McGovern nor Froggatt. Our odds place Smith in third position behind reigning Emmy champ Claire Danes ("Homeland") and queen of the SAG Awards Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"). Dockery is down in the 10th spot.
And while Bonneville and Stevens, who play the lords of the manor, are being submitted in the combined drama actor category, Carter and Coyle, who reign below stairs, won't be. However, neither of them is expected to even be nominated, with Bonneville ranked 14th and Stevens 25th in our standings.
Sally Field could set a record at this year's Oscars by becoming the first performer to win three awards without ever losing.
The two-time Best Actress champ is featured in the new Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln." Her baity role is Mary Todd Lincoln, the First Lady and wife of President Abraham Lincoln, notorious for her public outbursts, mood swings, fierce temper and excessive spending habits.
Our Gold Derby odds for Best Supporting Actress have Field in fourth place at 11/2. Anne Hathaway ("Les Miserables") is currently predicted to prevail with odds of 9/5. Amy Adams ("The Master") and Helen Hunt ("The Sessions") are tied in second position at 4/1.
Field's only two Oscar nominations in a four-decade career each resulted in victories: "Norma Rae" (1979) and "Places in the Heart" (1984).
She was the fourth woman to go two for two at the Oscars, following:
Luise Rainer: Best Actress, "The Great Ziegfeld (1936); Best Actress, "The Good Earth" (1937).
Vivien Leigh: Best Actress, "Gone with the Wind" (1939); Best Actress, "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951).
Helen Hayes: Best Actress, "The Sin of Madelon Claudet" (1931); Best Supporting Actress, "Airport" (1970).
Since then, Hilary Swank has won both her Best Actress bids: "Boys Don't Cry" (1999) and "Million Dollar Baby" (2004).
The only man to win both of his Oscar races is Kevin Spacey: Best Supporting Actor, "The Usual Suspects" (1995); Best Actor, "American Beauty" (1999).
Katharine Hepburn is the overall Oscar champ with four wins from 12 nominations, all in the Best Actress race.
Maroon 5 will perform exclusive concert for guests at Grammy nominations concert: "Three-time Grammy-winning group Maroon 5 are set to perform an exclusive concert for guests attending 'The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night.' The concert will immediately follow the one-hour live nominations special — which will feature performances by Luke Bryan and Maroon 5, and will be co-hosted by two-time Grammy winner LL Cool J and six-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift. The show ... will take place live for the first time ever at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Dec. 5, and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network (www.cbs.com) from 10 – 11 p.m. ET/PT (9 p.m. Central)." TALK TV WORLD
Scott Feinberg on the special LA screening of Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land" and the surprising number of Oscar hopefuls with a political bent: "Among the celebs who turned out to see the Matt Damon anti-fracking drama were Demi Moore, Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston, who reportedly cornered co-producer/co-writer John Krasinski after the film ended to gush about it. Focus Features has not yet screened 'Promised Land' for journalists but presumably will soon since it will be released in theaters Dec. 28 ... it's interesting to note just how many of this year's contenders involve politics -- and how many of those films are not being widely screened until after the election, ostensibly to avoid being labeled as sympathetic to one candidate or party, which could turn off a large segment of moviegoers." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Tina Fey reveals how her alter ego, Liz Lemon, won her Emmy: "In a new Ask Tina video on NBC.com below, Fey answers fan questions -- including ones from a '1989 Olympic gymnast' and the mash-up version of Katharine McPhee and Ryan Murphy -- about the end of the road for Liz Lemon and co. For example, how did Liz Lemon win that Emmy that's in her office? 'I've always sort of thought that it's a Daytime Emmy and that perhaps she got it for writing a really specific category, like Best Regional Promo for the show "The Mommies" or something like that,' Fey says. '[Or] for writing jokes for Joy Behar for "The View" -- it's definitely a Daytime Emmy. It's a local, Daytime Emmy.'" HUFFINGTON POST
Sasha Stone considers the quality -- and motives -- of dueling biopics "Hitchcock" and "The Girl (HBO)": "The correct way to approach the work of Alfred Hitchcock is on your knees. Yet because our prurient interests in the private lives of our celebrities and politicians tends to override almost everything else, the Season of the Hitch has not been an occasion to appreciate the master’s work, as it should be; but rather, a time to put him on trial for alleged sexual harassment and whatever else writers and directors come up with that has nothing to do with his films." AWARDS DAILY
Director Rama Burshtein discusses her film "Fill the Void," Israel's official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film: "In conversation following the film’s recent screening at the 50th New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center, she said 'Fill the Void' provides 'a look inside the private world of Tel Aviv’s Hasidic community.' The film, she said, is 'a movie taken from within… a window to the Orthodox world.' 'The real location of the film is Shira’s heart,' said producer Asaf Amir. 'Detail is an integral part of the story. The need to be creative lends to the magical quality.' ... Yiphat Klein, who portrayed the widower Yochay, credited the film’s success to the work of Burshtein, who 'has the ability to take everything in hand. It is her influence…First of all, Rama’s a storyteller.'" ALGEMEINER
Guy Lodge considers whether British Independent Film Award nominations for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" could foretell Oscar: "As a mainstream smash hit (with $33m, the 13th highest grosser of 2012 in the UK) with limited critical endorsement, the glossy but independently produced comedy wasn't necessarily expected to be a major factor in an awards ceremony largely dedicated to work on the fringes. Yet not only did it receive acting nods for beloved veterans Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson -- it also popped up in Best Film, and even Best Director ... Of course, the enthusiasms of the wily Brit contingent aren't always reflected in the awards race across the pond, but I can't help wondering if 'Best Exotic' mightn't be a stronger dark horse in the Oscar derby than we're currently giving it credit for being." IN CONTENTION
Adams joins Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Michael Hogan (Huffington Post), Guy Lodge (In Contention/ Hitfix), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Chuck Walton (Fandango), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).
Among our Oscarologists, the still-unseen "Les Miserables" has odds of 11 to 2. The eight Experts who foresee victory for the screen adaptation of the 1987 Tony-winning Best Musical are: Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Sean O'Connell (Hollywood News), Kevin Polowy (Next Movie), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Alex Suskind (Moviefone) and Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere).
Two Experts -- Dave Karger (Fandango) and Steve Pond (The Wrap) -- still favor "Silver Linings Playbook" which has odds of 13 to 2. This winner of the audience award at the Toronto filmfest in September opens in limited release on Nov. 16. David O. Russell's comedy-drama showcases Jennifer Lawrence who has dominated the Best Actress category for weeks. She currently has the backing of 22 Experts and odds of 9 to 5.
Michael Musto (Village Voice) and Richard Horgan (Mediabistro/FishbowlLA) support the still-unseen "Zero Dark Thirty." In her followup to 2009 Best Picture winner "The Hurt Locker," Oscar champ Kathryn Bigelow tells the tale of Seal Team Six and its hunt for Osama Bin Laden.