Oscars news: Jack O’Connell on ‘Unbroken’ break, ‘The Imitation Game’ puzzle contest


Jen Yamato profiles Jack O’Connell, the breakout star of “Unbroken.” “He may be on the precipice of glory, but the 24-year-old is mindful of the journey ahead. While the British actor has racked up credits and acclaim across the pond (‘This Is England,’ ‘Skins,’ ‘Harry Brown’) and drew raves for his turn as a volatile young inmate in this year’s award-winning drama ‘Starred Up,’ this Christmas he tackles his most challenging role yet: Playing American hero Louis Zamperini …, the Olympic track star, who enlisted in the Air Force when he was O’Connell’s age only to crash land in the Pacific, surviving 47 days adrift in a raft. ‘Rescued’ by the Japanese, Zamperini endured years in brutal prisoner of war camps until World War II drew to a close.” Deadline

Oscar experts: Eddie Redmayne narrows Michael Keaton lead, ‘Selma’ cracks top five

Sasha Stone has a must-read essay on the upcoming critics kudos. “December 1st is fast approaching. The New York Film Critics deliberately pushed their awards back to be “first” in the awards race and indeed, they have taken back power from the National Board of Review in a rushed season. Before Oscar pushed their own date back a month, the National Board of Review came out so early, too early. They could push a film into the race but they were considered too early to matter.  Later, the New York and Los Angeles Critics would take center stage and really drive the race (most of the time).  But the date change smushed everything together, so that Telluride became the most important film festival (over Toronto, for instance) and the NBR had the cat bird’s seat with early critics awards. The New York Film Critics then pushed their own date back to be first. And so it goes.” Awards Daily

Jeff Labrecque reports on a fun way to spend some time on Thanksgiving while the turkey is cooking — solving the puzzle that played a key part in “The Imitation Game.” “Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) has an unusual technique to recruit high-IQ talent: a crossword puzzle. In 1942, he published a particularly difficult puzzle in the London Daily Telegraph, and invited those who could complete it in 12 minutes or less to apply for a job with his mysterious government outfit. One of those who passed the test was Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley.” The brainteaser will run in Thursday’s New York Times and one reader will win a trip to Bletchley Park, home to the English codebreakers. EW 

Christy Grosz delivers a compelling take on the Golden Globes. “When it comes to its choices for cinematic achievements each year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. takes its fair share of knocks. But in the foreign-language film category, the HFPA’s roughly 90 voting members seem to get a little more credit for picking the best of what the world has to offer. Through a looser set of rules and a different nomination process, the HFPA often recognizes films that aren’t even eligible for the Academy Award.” Variety

Oscar voters get Thanksgiving bounty of Animated Feature screeners:
‘Big Hero 6,’ ‘Dragon 2,’ ‘Lego Movie’

Birdman scripters Nicolas Giacobone and Alexander Dinelaris take us behind the scenes. “There were myriad challenges in the writing of this screenplay (as inevitably there are with any script). The most daunting was dealing with the core principle of “one shot” narration. Before the first words on paper, we knew that the film would be crafted as one uninterrupted shot. This created two separate issues.” Los Angeles Times

Greg Ellwood finds out from Chris Rock as to why he was compelled to make “Top Five.” “His thought process was: ‘If I want to work in the type of movies that I want to work in, whatever movie I do has to be better than the ones that I’ve done. I’ve got to, you know, kick start this career of mine. And the career is fine, but on the movie side, you know, I’ve been allowed to make movies but I’ve never seen anything lead to something else.'” HitFix

Bill Desowitz takes a closer look at the frontrunners for the Visual Effects Oscar in advance of next week’s release of the short list. “I predict the race will come down to seven contenders: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,”  “Interstellar,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” “Godzilla,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and “Maleficent.” TOH

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