<p>Oscar is waiting.&nbsp; Who will make the list?</p>

Oscar is waiting.  Who will make the list?

Contender Countdown: 24 hours till Oscar nominee voting deadline

Plus: Some last minute considerations

Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 13, at 5 PM, it will be all over.  Well, sort of.  The first half of the Oscar season will be complete as the Academy's mailbox will slam shut and no more nomination ballots will be accepted for the 84th Academy Awards.  And, in so doing, another strange awards season will start the final turn towards completion.  While many of the nominees seem secure in their standing there is an air of uncertainty over almost every category.  In fact, its been quite a long time since the feeling of upset was in the air after so many weeks of critics lists and precursor awards. 

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<p>&nbsp;Andy Serkis shooting an emotional scene as Caesar in his motion-capture suit in &quot;Rise of the Planet of the Apes.&quot;</p>

 Andy Serkis shooting an emotional scene as Caesar in his motion-capture suit in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Exclusive: Andy Serkis' emotional goodbye as Caesar in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

A frank conversation with the underdog best supporting actor candidate

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation with Andy Serkis, director Rupert Wyatt and supervising sound supervisors Chuck Michael and John Larsen about their work bringing Caesar to live in the critically acclaimed "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."  The evening was part of 20th Century Fox's campaign to land Serkis a best supporting actor nomination for his role as Caesar, an ape with extreme intelligence who falls victim to the prejudices and fears of man.  If Serkis finds himself among the five nominees announced a week from Tuesday, it will make history as the first motion-capture performance recognized by the Academy (let alone any major awards organization). Can he surprise the pundits?  Co-star James Franco, who played Caesar's adoptive human father Will, certainly thinks so.

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<p>Natalie Portman</p>

Natalie Portman

Credit: AP Photo

Natalie Portman and Ed Helms among SAG Award presenters

Julianna Margulies, Armie Hammer and Regina King will also present

The upcoming SAG Awards have lined up a formidable array of stars to act as presenters at the televised 18th Annual event. Natalie Portman, Ed Helms, Julianna Margulies, Armie Hammer and Regina King will hand out trophies to the winners.

SAG President Ken Howard will also act as a presenter.

Portman received The Actor last year for her mesmerizing turn in Darren Aronofsky's “Black Swan, and has recently appeared in "No Strings Attached” and “Thor." Portman may be re-teaming with her "V For Vendetta" producers The Wachowskis for the upcoming "Jupiter Ascending." She'll also be among the presenters at this coming Sunday's Golden Globe Awards show,.

Hammer is nominated this year for his supporting performance in “J. Edgar” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and was nominated last year as a member of “The Social Network” ensemble. He'll soon be seen in the Snow White riff “Mirror Mirror,” opposite Julia Roberts and Lily Collins.

SAG award winner Helms is nominated again this year as part of the ensemble of NBC's "The Office.” He was also recently seen in "The Hangover Part II," and will appear opposite Jason Segel in the upcoming comedy "Jeff Who Lives at Home."

As an eight-time winner (and sixteen-time nominee), Margulies holds the SAG Awards’ record for the most awards received. She's taken home awards both for her current show "The Good Wife,” and for her work on NBC's long-running “ER.”

Regina King currently stars in TNT’s “Southland” and serves as the SAG Awards social network ambassador. She was nominated as a cast member of “Ray,” alongside Jamie Foxx.

The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air on TNT and TBS Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT from the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles.

See the complete list of nominees
here.

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<p>&nbsp;Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in &quot;Thor.&quot;</p>

 Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth in "Thor."

Credit: Marvel Studios

It's Loki vs. Thor for the BAFTA Orange Rising Star Award

A 'Bridesmaids' star makes the cut too

BAFTA announced the five candidates for the always popular BAFTA Orange Wednesdays rising star award this year and the publicly voted honor features a face-off between the God of Mischief, the God of Thunder, a "Bridesmaids" star and a one-week lover of Marilyn Monroe.

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<p>&nbsp;Parker Posey winning her special acting prize for &quot;The House of Yes&quot; in 1997.</p>

 Parker Posey winning her special acting prize for "The House of Yes" in 1997.

Credit: AP Photo

Sundance Queen Parker Posey's royal visit to Park City is now official

Julia Ormond, Justin Lin, Cliff Martinez among festival jury members

 

There have been many pretenders of the years, but there is only one Queen of Sundance and after a two-year absences she's finally returning to her kingdom.  

Parker Posey became the face of Sundance in the late '90s early '00s thanks to acclaimed roles in films such as the indie classic "Party Girl," "The House of Yes" and "Personal Velocity." The irony of course, is that those were the only three features she had at the festival in that period, but boy did they hit a nerve.  But the moniker has stuck mostly because she represents a time when the festival hit a tipping point in recognition amongst the media and its peer festivals.  Posey has returned since then, most notably with the under-appreciated "Broken English" in 2007, but is back for one more go around this year with the out-of-competition comedy "Price Check."  In an attempt to possibly keep press or sponsors in town past the traditional mid-week departure date, the festival announced today that Posey will host this year's Awards Ceremony, set to take place on Sunday, January 28.  It also means Posey will be around the fest a good chunk of the week which can only be a good thing.

The Festival also announced this year's competitive juries and, as always, it's an intriguing and political mix (and by that we mean festival politics). Finding appropriate jury members is never easy, but the festival seems to have found enough indie cred amongst the selections to satisfy most.

The grand jury dramatic will include Anthony Mackie who starred in Sundance selections "Night Catches Us," "Half Nelson" and "Brother to Brother"; acclaimed composer Cliff Martinez; previous jury prize winner Lynn Shelton ("Humpday") who returns with "Your Sister's Sister" out of competition; cinematographer Amy Vincent ("Eve's Bayou," "Hustle & Flow"); and Justin Lin.  The latter is best known for directing "Fast Five" and "Fast & Furious," but got his start with Sundance selection "Better Luck Tomorrow" in 2002. 

The documentary jury features filmmakers Fenton Bailey ("Party Monster," "Becoming Chaz"), Shari Berman ("American Splendor"), Charles Ferguson ("No End in Sight"), Kim Roberts ("Waiting for Superman," "Food, Inc.") and noted UK doc programmer Heather Croall.

The world dramatic jury is a bit smaller with Julia Ormond ("Legends of the Fall," "My Week with Marilyn"), screenwriter Alexei Popogrebsky and New York Film Festival director Richard Pena judging the field. 

The world documentary jury includes journalist Nick Fraser, film curator Clara Kim and filmmaker and professor Jean-Marie Teno. 

The jury for the Alfred P. Sloan award - given to films showcasing science and technology - will include screenwriter Scott Burns ("Contagion"), journalist and programmer Tracy Day and biological Anthropologist Helen Fisher.

The short film jury includes Mike Judge (yes, the "Beavis and Butthead" one), director and screenwriter Dee Rees ("Paraiah") and Toronto International Film Festival programmer Shane Smith.

Look for complete coverage of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival beginning Thursday, Jan. 19 on HitFix.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

 

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<p>Natalie Portman arrives on the red carpet at last year's Golden Globes, prior to winning the award for Best Actress for her performance in &quot;Black Swan&quot;.</p>

Natalie Portman arrives on the red carpet at last year's Golden Globes, prior to winning the award for Best Actress for her performance in "Black Swan".

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal among first announced Golden Globes presenters

Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy will also be hitting the stage

Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Melissa McCarthy and Freida Pinto have all been announced as presenters at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, which is scheduled to air this coming Sunday on NBC.

The group was announced via the official Twitter account of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization that chooses the winners and nominees at each year's ceremony.

Portman, of course, won the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama at last year's show for her performance in Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan", which also netted her an Oscar. Gyllenhaal and Kidman were also nominated last year, for their performances in "Love and Other Drugs" and "Rabbit Hole", respectively.

Mirren has been nominated for a total of ten Golden Globes over the course of her career, with her biggest coup coming in 2007, when she took home the statues for both "The Queen" (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama) and "Elizabeth I" (Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television). Owen won for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture in 2005, for his performance in "Closer".

Among the other presenters, Hayek was nominated in 2003 for her title performace in "Frida", while Banderas has been nominated three different times, most recently for his performance in the 2003 made-for-TV movie "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself".

Neither McCarthy nor Pinto have ever been nominated for a Golden Globe, though the HFPA's snub of the former this year was considered especially galling considering the Oscar buzz she's been receiving for her winning turn in last year's "Bridesmaids" - not to mention the fact that she won the Best Actress Emmy for "Mike & Molly" back in September. Perhaps giving her a presenter slot is the HFPA's version of a consolation prize?

Stay tuned for further presenter updates as they're announced...

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<p>&nbsp;Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards last February.</p>

 Jennifer Lawrence walks the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards last February.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Academy Awards get a 'Hunger Games' tie-in as Jennifer Lawrence set to announce nominations

Former nominee will get up early Oscar morning

 The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this morning that former nominee Jennifer Lawrence will announce the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards alongside Academy president Tom Sherak on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Sherak and Lawrence will unveil the nominations in 10 of the 24 categories at a 5:30 a.m. PT news conference at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Nominations information for all categories will be distributed simultaneously to news media in attendance and online. 

Lawrence was nominated last year in the best actress category for her acclaimed performance in "Winter's Bone."  She next stars in the highly anticipated adaptation of "The Hunger Games" and David O. Russell's "The Silver Linings Playbook."  Lawrence recently appeared as a younger Mystique in "X-Men: First Class," Jodie Foster's "The Beaver" and in Drake Doremus' Sundance Grand Prize winning drama "Like Crazy." 

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<p>&nbsp;Rooney Mara in David Fincher's &quot;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.&quot;</p>

 Rooney Mara in David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Fincher surprises by joining Allen, Payne, Scorsese and Hazanavicius for 2012 DGA Awards nominations

Spielberg, Refn, Daldry and Malick don't make the cut

In something of a surprise, David Fincher's work for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" made the five director field for the 2012 DGA Awards announced this morning.  Fincher was joined by Woody Allen ("Midnight in Paris"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"), Michael Hazanavicius ("The Artist") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo"). 

Notable omissions included Steven Spielberg ("War Horse," "The Adventures of Tintin"), Nicholas Winding Refn ("Drive"), Terrence Malick ("The Tree of Life") and Bennett Miller ("Moneyball").  

Fincher's surprise entry is the second major guild honor for the film after a WGA Awards nom for best adapted screenplay.  It's still unclear whether "Tattoo" will make the cut in those categories or the best picture field.  The reason for the latter is the Academy's new 5% rule which makes it unclear how many films will actually be nominated this year (most are assuming seven to eight).  The former is more complicated.  The best adapted screenplay category will be more competitive with non-WGA member scripts eligible and its hard to believe Fincher's pedestrian work could make the Academy cut.  While the Fincher nomination shows the "Dragon" director has likely reached the revered Scorsese/Eastwood/Spielberg status amongst his peers (i.e, they can do no wrong - until they do) and the assistant directors (who make up the majority of the DGA membership) most would still put their money on Spielberg or Miller to make the Oscar field in his place.

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<p>Shockwave is pleased with &quot;Transformers:&nbsp;Dark of the Moon's&quot;&nbsp;VES&nbsp;Awards nominations.</p>

Shockwave is pleased with "Transformers: Dark of the Moon's" VES Awards nominations.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'Harry Potter,' 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' Game of Thrones' lead 2012 Visual Effects Society Awards Nominations

'Tree of Life" is shut out from the digital guild

The Visual Effects Society (VES) today announced the nominees for its 10th Annual VES Awards and the surprise was the exclusion of Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life."  Short-listed for the Oscar for Visual Effects, "Life" didn't land any film-centric nominations.

On the film side, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2"  and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" each landed five nominations. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" found four nominations, "Hugo" received three while "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" landed two nods respectively. "The Adventures of Tintin" had the most film nominations - animated or live-action - with six.

On the television side, "Boardwalk Empire"lead the way with four nominations, "Game of Thrones" found three nominations and "Pan Am" and "Terra Nova" each landed two.

As previously announced, Stan Lee will be honored with the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award and Douglas Trumbull with the Georges Méliès Award.

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<p>&nbsp;'Melancholia'</p>

 'Melancholia'

National Society of Film Critics picks Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia'

Kirsten Dunst and Brad Pitt nab acting awards

"Melancholia," Lars Von Trier's allegorical film about the end of the world, was named best picture by the influential National Society of Film Critics, beating out "Tree of Life" and Iran's "A Separation." 

The film's star, Kirsten Dunst, also walked away with the title of Best Actress, handily defeating "Poetry's" Yun Jung-Hee and awards magnet Meryl Streep ("The Iron Lady"). Brad Pitt won the Best Actor award, for his work in "Moneyball" and "Tree of Life."

"Drive's" Albert Brooks was named in the Best Supporting Actor section for his sinister, against-type turn, while Jessica Chastain was honored for her roles in "Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Best Director went to "Tree of Life" helmer Terrence Malick. 

Last year, the NSFC (which includes critics from major publications all over the U.S.) chose "The Social Network" as the top film, with "The Hurt Locker" getting the honor in 2009. 

Here’s the full list of this year's winners:

 

BEST ACTOR
*1. Brad Pitt – 35 (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
2. Gary Oldman – 22 (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
3. Jean Dujardin – 19 (The Artist)

BEST ACTRESS
*1. Kirsten Dunst – 39 (Melancholia)
2. Yun Jung-hee – 25 (Poetry)
3. Meryl Streep – 20 (The Iron Lady)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
*1. Albert Brooks – 38 (Drive)
2. Christopher Plummer – 24 (Beginners)
3. Patton Oswalt – 19 (Young Adult)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
*1. Jessica Chastain – 30 (The Tree Of Life, Take Shelter, The Help)
2. Jeannie Berlin – 19 (Margaret)
3. Shailene Woodley – 17 (The Descendants)

BEST PICTURE
*1. Melancholia – 29 (Lars von Trier)
2. The Tree Of Life – 28 (Terrence Malick)
3. A Separation – 20 (Asghar Farhadi)

BEST DIRECTOR
*1. Terrence Malick – 31 (The Tree Of Life)
2. Martin Scorsese – 29 (Hugo)
3. Lars von Trier – 23 (Melancholia)

BEST NONFICTION
*1. Cave Of Forgotten Dreams – 35 (Werner Herzog)
2. The Interrupters – 26 (Steve James)
3. Into The Abyss – 18 (Werner Herzog)

BEST SCREENPLAY
*1. A Separation – 39 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Moneyball – 22 (Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin)
3. Midnight In Paris – 16 (Woody Allen)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
*1. A Separation – 67 (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Mysteries Of Lisbon – 28 (Raoul Ruiz)
3. Le Havre – 22 (Aki Kaurismäki)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
*1. The Tree Of Life – 76 (Emanuel Lubezki)
2. Melancholia – 41 (Manuel Alberto Claro)
3. Hugo – 33 (Robert Richardson)

EXPERIMENTAL
Ken Jacobs, Seeking The Monkey King

FILM HERITAGE

1. BAMcinématek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective with all titles shown on 16 mm. or 35 mm. film.
2. Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of George Méliès’s “A Trip to the Moon.”
3. New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.
4. Flicker Alley for their box set Landmarks Of Early Soviet Film.
5. Criterion Collecton for its 2-disc DVD package The Complete Jean Vigo.

 

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