<p>Melissa Leo celebrates her Screen Actor's Guild award for best supporting actress in &quot;The Fighter.&quot;</p>

Melissa Leo celebrates her Screen Actor's Guild award for best supporting actress in "The Fighter."

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Contender Countdown: Melissa Leo may have blown best supporting actress

'King's Speech' looking more like best picture every day

With Academy Awards ballots due in just one week, an unexpected change appears to be underway in one of the main categories, best supporting actress.  But first, let's take a look at where the best picture race stands.

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<p>Best Actress Oscar nominee Natalie Portman in &quot;Black Swan.&quot;</p>

Best Actress Oscar nominee Natalie Portman in "Black Swan."

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Wes Anderson talks 'Black Swan' with Oscar nominee Andy Weisblum

An interesting conversation into the process of the editor

Editing is one art form that moviegoers rarely have a firm grasp on.  The process is hardly as easy as just cutting from one shot to another.  Different directors have different editing techniques to make their shot material work and some filmmakers don' even know how a film is going to come together until they get in the editing room.  This years best editing nominees include "The Fighter" (deft), "127 Hours" (pace setting), "The Social Network" (intricate), "The King's Speech" (old school) and "Black Swan" (deliberate).  The latter film owes just as much of its town to Andy Weisblum's work as to fellow nominees Mathew Libatique (cinematography) and director Darren Aronofsky.  

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<p>An example of Wally Pfister's gorgeous work in &quot;Inception.&quot;</p>

An example of Wally Pfister's gorgeous work in "Inception."

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Oscar for Cinematography up for grabs as ASC awards 'Inception'

'Boardwalk Empire' and 'The Pacific' win on the television side

In something of a surprise, "Inception's" Wally Pfister won his first ASC Award from the American Society of Cinematographers for best film cinematography tonight.

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<p>&quot;The King's Speech&quot; </p>

"The King's Speech"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Complete winners list of the 2011 BAFTA Orange Awards

'King's Speech' dominates with seven awards including best picture

The 2011 British Orange Film Awards were announced on Saturday evening in London and the big winner, as expected, was "The King's Speech." 

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<p>Gerard Butler endures an explosion in Ralph Fiennes &quot;Coriolanus.&quot;</p>

Gerard Butler endures an explosion in Ralph Fiennes "Coriolanus."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Gerard Butler's 'Coriolanus' joins Weinstein's 2012 awards slate

Ralph Fiennes directorial debut premieres at Berlin on Monday

As The Weinstein Company works to put the finishing touches on a best picture win for "The King's Speech" at the Academy Awards Feb. 27, the company is also making sure its cupboard isn't bare for next awards season.  The mini-major already has "My Week with Marilyn" starring Michelle Williams in the fold, but today the company announced it has acquired the U.S. rights to "Coriolanus," the directorial debut of none other than Ralph Fiennes.

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<p>Anne Hathaway and James Franco reveal how they became the hosts for the 83rd Academy Awards.</p>

Anne Hathaway and James Franco reveal how they became the hosts for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Oscar Watch: Anne Hathaway reveals she said 'no' until James Franco said 'yes'

Plus: More Oscar presenters and Melissa Leo just can't be quiet

As it appearing there will be little surprises among the winners on Oscar night, a lot of the focus has turned to just how entertaining first time hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be. Like the Super Bowl halftime show, Academy Award hosts are many times given a thankless task that few can walk away from with critical raves.  Besides Billy Crystal who, let's be frank, became a tad predictable in his later gigs, there hasn't been one host or hosts that made everyone happy.  Last year's team up of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin was an unqualified disaster, Ellen DeGeneres was surprisingly boring and forgettable, Chris Rock made the horrible David Letterman mistake of pissing off the room in his monologue (even though he was funny the rest of the night), Steve Martin's solo acts were a bit dry for some, Hugh Jackman was upstaged by the show's production (not necc a bad thing) and Jon Stewart never seemed entirely comfortable in the position, even during his second go-around.  Enter: James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

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<p>Sam Worthington in &quot;The Debt.&quot;</p>

Sam Worthington in "The Debt."

Credit: Miramax

Focus Features will try to make a hit out of Sam Worthington's 'The Debt'

Helen Mirren thriller gets a late August release date

Last summer, one picture that seemed like a potential awards player was Miramax's "The Debt."  The dramatic thriller starred Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain (the upcoming "The Tree of Life" and Sundance premiere "Taking Shelter"), Marton Csokas ("The Bourne Supremacy"), Jesper Christensen ("Casino Royale"), Ciarán Hinds and two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson.  It was also seen as a potential comeback for "Shakespeare in Love" helmer John Madden who has had a rough decade since that surprise Academy Award-winning champ. And, it featured the Oscar-friendly subject matter of a Jewish Mossad crew taking out an evil Nazi doctor now in hiding in East Germany.  Add in the prestige of premiering at the Deauville and Toronto Film Festivals this past September and you've got a prime awards season candidate. And then the press saw it.

As I wrote in my review from Toronto, "The Debt" was an incredibly frustrating experience. For the first two acts we witnessed great performances from Mirren, Wilkinson and Chastain and some inspired direction from Madden as the story goes back and forth and the mystery of what happens to the doctor deepens.  And then, sadly, the film jumps the shark in a plot turn that made some in my audience gasp in a "you've got to be kidding me reaction."  It wasn't surprising then that Disney, which still controlled the picture while they worked out a sale for their Miramax division, pulled out of a late December release (it didn't help that Mirren's other Miramax flick, "The Tempest," was also a turd).  

Miramax's new owners took over with no intention of creating a marketing or distribution team which put "The Debt's" future in doubt which was surprising considering that Mirren and Worthington should at least be able to provide some interest in a limited release.  Fear not moviefans, Focus Features has come to the rescue.

In a release today, Focus and Miramax announced "The Debt" will be released nationwide Aug. 31.  Focus has had a lot of success in that pre-Labor Day weekend slot with such last summer performers as "The Constant Gardener" and "The American."  Whether "The Debt" can make a something of a comeback, however, still remains to be seen.

Check out the trailer Disney cut for "The Debt" embedded in this page and share your thoughts below.

<p>Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer at the 83rd Academy Awards nominees luncheon on Monday.</p>

Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer at the 83rd Academy Awards nominees luncheon on Monday.

Before 'The Dark Knight Rises' Christopher Nolan's crew celebrates 'Inception'

'Inception's' nominees talk about their acclaimed thriller one last time

At the end of a busy Monday, a few friends got together to discuss their latest achievement.  What most of these men had in common is that they have worked together before and they have all been united because of Christopher Nolan.  In what was likely the last Q&A to discuss "Inception," Wally Pfister (cinematography), Hans Zimmer (original score), Guy Hendrix Dyas (art direction), visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin (visual effects), Richard King (sound editing), Ed Novick and Gary Rizzo (sound mixing) and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould (Visual Effects) all took some time to reflect on he picture that landed them Oscar nominations this year.

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<p>The first image of Meryl Streep as former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher in &quot;The Iron Lady.&quot;</p>

The first image of Meryl Streep as former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."

Credit: Pathe

Oscar Bait: Meryl Streep channels Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady'

What Hollywood studio will jump on this one?

Is it possible that a Meryl Streep movie doesn't have a U.S. distributor yet?  is it possible that a movie where Meryl Streep plays a famous historical figure doesn't have a U.S. distributor?  You betcha.

Streep has reunited with her "Mamma Mia!" director Phyllida Lloyd for "The Iron Lady," a drama centered on Margaret Thatcher and how she saved her position as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom before and during the Falklands War in 1982.  Jim Broadbent, an Oscar winner himself, is on board as Streep's husband Dennis. "Lady" is currently shooting in the U.K.

Amazingly, the producers still haven't made a deal for "The Iron Lady" in the U.S., but Pathe, which reps the film overseas, released the first image of Streep as Thatcher today as they get ready to make big sales at the Cannes Film Festival this May.  In a statement from Pathe, Streep remarked, "“I am trying to approach the role with as much zeal, fervour and attention to detail as the real Lady Thatcher possesses – I can only hope my stamina will begin to approach her own."

No one will debate that the subject matter and Streep and Broadbent's pedigree make "Iron Lady" a major prestige and awards play.  The question is who will jump on board?  Fox Searchlight teamed with Pathe on "127 Hours," but appears as though it will have a busy awards season with Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" and Sundance pick up "Martha Marcy May Marlene."  Other potential players such as The Weinstein Company, Focus Features, Summit and Paramount Pictures, on the other hand, all have slots open which could create an intriguing bidding war.  Well, as much of a bidding war as you can get for a drama that might top out at only $50 million domestically.

In the meantime, check out the image of Streep as Thatcher as a tease for awards season 2012 and share your thoughts below.

The first photo or image of Meryl Streep as former U.K. Prime Minister in THE IRON LADY

<p>Annette Bening at the 83rd Academy Awards nominees luncheon on Monday.</p>

Annette Bening at the 83rd Academy Awards nominees luncheon on Monday.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Is Annette Bening Oscar's comeback kid in the best actress race?

Buzz is growing for 'The Kids Are All Right' star

When each nominees name was announced to receive their certificate yesterday at the 83rd Academy Awards luncheon, according to all accounts, the name that got the biggest ovation was a bit of a surprise.  It wasn't industry and Academy favorite Jeff Bridges, show co-host and nominee James Franco or the very pregnant and always adorable Natalie Portman.  No, the biggest round of applause appeared to be for best actress nominee Annette Bening.

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