News Nuggets: How Matthew McConaughey is becoming a stronger Oscar contender

Pete Hammond believes Matthew McConaughey is becoming a stronger contender to win the Oscar as Best Actor for “Dallas Buyers Club.” He “lit up” the Palm Springs crowd with his speech Saturday night and has been nominated for everything in sight (Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice, Spirit Awards). He also has a red-hot career, now “winning raves” for his new HBO drama “True Detective” debuting this Sunday, and has put in strong work this past year in “Mud” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Deadline.

In advance of their complete nomination announcement on Wednesday, BAFTA unveils their contenders for the Rising Star Award. They are: Dane DeHaan (“Kill Your Darlings), George Mackay (“How I Live Now”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave“), Will Poulter (“We’re the Millers”), and Lea Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color“). Recent winners have included Eva Green, Tom Hardy, and James McAvoy. Hitfix.

Sasha Stone declares that “American Hustle”  seems to be taking the buzz lead in the Oscar race for Best Picture. She says “there is nothing particularly offensive about this idea,” and that it will soon be on a roll by winning the Golden Globe, SAG ensemble, and DGA’s top prize. It reminds her of the years of “Chicago” and “Argo” prevailing – “just a big, funny party where David O. Russell is kind of overdue when you think about it.” But important clarification: she is not yet ready to predict it will win. For now, she still has “12 Years a Slave” on top of her Best Pic picksAwards Daily.

The first wave of Golden Globe presenters is announced for this Sunday’s ceremony on NBC. They include previous champs Kevin Bacon, Laura Dern, Robert Downey, Jr., Colin Farrell, Jennifer Lawrence, Uma Thurman, and Reese Witherspoon, plus Julie Bowen, Jimmy Fallon, and Mila Kunis. Variety.

After criticism in recent months for its lack of diversity, “Saturday Night Live” hires its first African-American female cast member since Maya Rudolph. Sasheer Zamata will debut as a featured player on the January 18 episode hosted by rapper Drake (who will also serve as musical guest). The January 25 show is hosted by Jonah Hill with musical guest Bastille. Cinema Blend.

The Beatles will be celebrated in a new CBS special airing February 9, exactly 50 years after the band stormed America on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The concert will be recorded on January 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Performers include the Eurythmics, Alicia Keys and John Legend, Maroon 5, and John Mayer and Keith Urban. No word yet on whether surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will attend, but they are appearing on the network’s Grammy Awards the day before after receiving a lifetime achievement award. Associated Press.

Anne Thompson reveals that new Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is roto-calling members to remind them about voting. The deadline is this Wednesday for online and paper ballots to be submitted, so her office is using the political election method to get as many of the 6,000 members to vote as possible. Oscar nominations will be announced on January 16. Thompson on Hollywood.

Downton Abbey” delivers the highest ratings in PBS history for a drama premiere. The show returned Sunday night for its fourth season and was seen by 10.2 million viewers, up 22 percent from last year’s debut. The two-hour episode was set six months after the conclusion of last year’s finale and dealt with the repercussions of the death of Matthew (Dan Stevens). Entertainment Weekly.

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