Oscars news: Harvey Weinstein on ‘The Imitation Game,’ Jack Black to sing on telecast

Kris Tapley chats with Harvey Weinstein about his company’s Best Picture nominee “The Imitation Game“:  “The Alan Turing biopic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, landed eight Oscar nominations in January and has grossed $134 million worldwide. And it’s adding theaters still, using the fuel of the circuit to stoke the fire at the box office. Meanwhile, Weinstein has turned up the heat on the campaign surrounding the film, calling for recognition of issues inherent in the material, as he’s done with everything from ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Philomena’ to ‘My Left Foot’ and ‘The Thin Blue Line’ in the past. It’s paying off for audience awareness, but will it pay off at the Academy Awards, too? He sure seems confident that it will.” In Contention 

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Versatile actor, singer and comedian Jack Black will be back on this year’s Oscars. In making the announcement kudocast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said, “Black is a complete original comic voice and we’re beyond thrilled that he has agreed to join the Oscars show in a very special sequence.” He has made three previous appearances on the Oscars, most recently as a presenter at the 81st Academy Awards.” Oscars

Jenelle Riley notes, “of this year’s 20 acting nominees, nine are first-timers to the Academy Awards. The lead actor race features only one previous nominee, Bradley Cooper, among a group of freshmen. New faces like Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch managed to work their way into what may be the most competitive actor race ever … Even those who are familiar faces are being seen in a new light. Everyone expects great things from Emma Stone, but she effortlessly made the transition from child star to Oscar nominee with her heartfelt work in ‘Birdman,’ beating out her previously nominated co-stars Naomi Watts and Amy Ryan. Reese Witherspoon, an Oscar winner, ditched the sunny smile we’ve come to love and bared her body and soul for ‘Wild.’ And Steve Carell erased any memories of ‘The Office’s’ Michael Scott with a transformative, villainous turn as John du Pont in ‘Foxcatcher.’” Variety

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Pete Hammond reflects: “Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson are in the news for very different reasons. A movie set in the South, dealing with race relations, wins a best picture Oscar nomination even though the black star of the film does not. Its director ultimately is overlooked. The Oscars are shrouded in controversy over how it deals with that movie and its relation to real-life events. No, we’re not talking about ‘Selma,’ the stirring film about the King-led 1965 march in Alabama for voting rights that has been nominated for a 2014 best picture Oscar. We are looking back to April 10, 1968 — the 40th anniversary of the Academy Awards, which was historic for another major reason. That year the Oscar broadcast, scheduled originally for Monday, April 8, was postponed for two days out of respect for King, who had been assassinated on April 4.” Deadline

Janet Kinosian observes, “the life of an Oscar nominee is a busy one, indeed. Veteran actor J.K. Simmons had just flown in from Atlanta, where he’s filming ‘The Accountant’ with Ben Affleck and Anna Kendrick, and was having a quick breakfast on a January late morning near his Studio City home while nursing a lingering cold. The odds-on favorite to win the supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of a ferociously manipulative jazz instructor in the best picture nominee ‘Whiplash,’ he’s already scooped up a number of statuettes for the role, including a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.” Los Angeles Times

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