Oscars news: Jack O’Connell on ‘Unbroken’ break, Emma Stone on ‘Birdman’ flight of fancy

In his intro to this interesting interview, Kyle Buchanan writes: “Twenty-four-year-old British actor Jack OConnell has been handed a plum part with ‘Unbroken,’ and he knows it. In the Angelina Jolie–directed film, O’Connell plays Louis Zamperini, the inspirational real-life figure who survived incredible torment during World War II after his plane crashed at sea, leaving him stranded for weeks on the ocean before he was captured and tortured by Japanese guards until the end of the war. It’s the kind of movie that will introduce the Derby-born O’Connell to a significant worldwide audience, the capstone to years of good work done in vehicles like ‘Skins’ and ‘Starred Up.'” Vulture

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Sasha Stone kicks off her compelling read on unsung supporting actress contenders thus: “When Naomi Watts was nominated by the Screen Actors Guild the pundits kind of giggled and twittered about it being a major coup by the Weinstein Co. to bring an out of nowhere performance onto the Oscar stage. But really, that was just an example of dropping the ball, of being too locked into the consensus to consider other options. Watts steals the show in ‘St. Vincent,’ which is one of the most entertaining films I saw this year. I know it isn’t going to light the critics on fire but it’s making money at the box office and who knows, maybe it might turn up here or there despite it being dismissed in the ‘conversation.’” Awards Daily

For Anthony D’Alessandro, “The brilliance of Emma Stone’s range is perfectly evident in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘Birdman.’ It’s not just that she plays against her good-girl type as a bitter, warts-and-all daughter of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson, rather it’s how she effortlessly flips emotions: In one scene, she slams her father for his irrelevance in showbiz, after which we see her face melt into a guilty frown. If her turn in ‘Birdman’ isn’t bold enough, Stone is making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in the revival of ‘Cabaret.’ How does Stone sympathize with her Birdman dad’s plight on the treacherous Great White Way? Says Stone: ‘What Riggan does is more daring, as he’s taken on all the pressure of being the director, writer and the star of his play. I’m just doing a show that I’ve loved since I was kid.’” Deadline

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Steve Pond observes, “Of the 323 films that are technically eligible for Best Picture, about 300 of them don’t really have a chance in that category, and about 250 of them are longshots in any category. But hope springs eternal in Hollywood, and contracts require Oscar submissions (and sometimes Oscar campaigns), so the paperwork gets filed and the AMPAS lists grow longer and longer. ” The Wrap

The academy begins 2015 with two new screening series in conjunction with the landmark Hollywood Costume exhibition now on view. “Street Clothes: Contemporary Costuming in New Hollywood” showcases the groundbreaking urban American films of the late 1960s and 1970s. And “Two Sides of a Costume Designer” demonstrates the remarkable creative range of many of cinema’s top designers over the decades. Oscars

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