Oscars news: ‘Birdman’ academy screening reax, Documentary Short field narrowed to eight

Pete Hammond has the inside scoop on this weekend’s official academy screening of “Birdman,” observing: “The good news for distributor Fox Searchlight is that much of that crowd stayed for the Q&A following the film with director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, sure-fire Supporting Actor contender Edward Norton, and actress Andrea Riseborough. That’s a good sign as it isn’t always the case ever since the fickle Academy voters started getting the Q&A treatment a couple of years ago. So in this instance, it’s not the attendance figure or even the audible response, it’s that they didn’t bolt for the exits afterwards.” Deadline

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The academy has winnowed a field of 58 entries down to eight semi-finalists for Best Documentary Short. Among these are three films about the terminally ill, including “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” by two-time nominee Lucy Walker and Zijian Mu‘s “One Child,” the first Student Oscar champ to automatically qualify for this award. The documentary branch members will now screen these to determine the three to five nominees that will be announced along with the rest of the Academy Award contenders on Jan. 15. Oscars

In a must-read piece, Sasha Stone analyzes the current slate of Oscar contenders, cautioning: “Mark my words, by the end of this year, all of the films about women, where women are the main characters, will be selected out of the Oscar race.” Awards Daily

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Three days prior to its Nov. 14 limited release, “The Homesman,” will screen as part of the AFI filmfest in Los Angeles. Oscar champ Tommy Lee Jones does double duty as both director and co-star opposite two-time Best Actress winner Hilary Swank in this oater. Variety

Kris Tapley thinks that four of the five Best Actor slots are all but sewn up: Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher,” Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” Michael Keaton in “Birdman” and Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.” He considers who, among the other contenders, is likely to land a bid. In Contention

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ABC looks to take in about $100 million in ad revenue for the Feb. 22 Oscarcast, having almost sold out the 30-second spots that are going for $1.9 million a pop (up by $100K from last year). The Wrap

In a deft analysis of the Animated Feature Oscar category, Ryan Lattanzio notes that, “Isao Takahata is a revered animated filmmaker whose latest, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” has been unassumingly picking up festival awards and buzz and critical acclaim, and could prove a stealthy contender.” Thompson on Hollywood

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