<p>The &quot;Inception&quot;&nbsp;script book delivered in a very familiar looking case.</p>

The "Inception" script book delivered in a very familiar looking case.

Oscar Watch: 'Inception' takes screenplay very seriously

Plus: 'True Grit' is headed for Berlin and more

In case anyone is wondering, Warner Bros. is taking an awards season campaign for its critically acclaimed blockbuster "Inception" very seriously.  Contrary to pundit opinion, Chris Nolan's complex thriller isn't just a lock for a nomination, but it could easily win.  And Warner Bros. is looking at the race like a marathon and not a sprint -- a strategy its had success with in the past.

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<p>Christian Bale discusses his work in &quot;The Fighter&quot;</p>

Christian Bale discusses his work in "The Fighter"

Watch: Christian Bale explains how he lost 30 lbs for 'The Fighter'

Plus: Amy Adams learns fishnets might not be the way to go

Fair warning: you're not going to learn anything about "The Dark Knight Rises" in this story or interview with Christian Bale.  It's not that Bale wouldn't answer such questions, but when you're sitting down to discuss his already acclaimed performance in David O. Russell's "The Fighter," there really isn't time.

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<p>Javier Bardem at a screening of &quot;Biutiful&quot;&nbsp;in New York on Dec. 1.</p>

Javier Bardem at a screening of "Biutiful" in New York on Dec. 1.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Sean Penn throws his Oscar weight behind Javier Bardem and 'Biutiful'

Oscar winner moderates Q&A with Bardem and director Inarritu

Sean Penn left little doubt as to whom he’s backing for best actor in the Oscar race when he moderated a Q&A at a  packed screening of “Biutiful,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s searing new movie starring Javier Bardem. Hosted by SAG Film Society, the event took place at the Directors Guild of America theater in Los Angeles.

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<p>Pixar threw &quot;Toy Story 3&quot;&nbsp;to the awards season fire, but it still managed to wrangle an Annie Award nomination for best animated feature.</p>

Pixar threw "Toy Story 3" to the awards season fire, but it still managed to wrangle an Annie Award nomination for best animated feature.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

No Disney backlash as Annie Awards nominate 'Toy Story 3' and 'Tangled'

DreamWorks Animation dominates Animation's highest honors

When John Lasseter wants something he usually gets it.  And, for the most part, because the creative maestro has been such a creative and financial powerhouse at both Pixar and Walt Disney Studios, there has been little criticism of his efforts.  However, today's Annie Award nominations should make Lasseter and the rest of the senior executives at the Mouse House realize they have made a petty and embarrassing mistake.

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<p>Paul Giamatti in &quot;Barney's Version&quot;</p>

Paul Giamatti in "Barney's Version"

Credit: Sony Classics

Paul Giamatti still isn't sure if he got "John Adams" right

'Barney's Version' star talks age progression and playing Ben Bernanke

Moviegoers in New York and Los Angeles -- and more importantly SAG and Academy members -- have a one week shot at catching the new drama "Barney's Version."  The Sony Classics release is playing for a one week Academy Awards qualifying run after which it will reopen in January.  Following the memorable life of a fictional Canadian TV producer, Barney Panofsky, the picture features a great cast including Rosamund Pike, Scott Speedman, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Rachelle Lefevre and Paul Giamtti as the Barney in question.  I spoke to Giamatti a few weeks ago and our conversation covered a number of topics including his acclaimed role as the nation's second President in "John Adams" and his upcoming Curtis Hanson HBO movie "Too Big To Fail."

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<p>Best Actress winner Carey Mulligan walks the red carpet at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards.</p>

Best Actress winner Carey Mulligan walks the red carpet at the 2010 British Independent Film Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

'The King's Speech' wins 5 British Independent Film Awards including Best Picture

Carey Mulligan wins Best Actress for 'Never Let Me Go'

The 2010 British Independent Film Awards were handed out Sunday evening in London and Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" dominated the night with five wins.  The Oscar contender for best picture won best british independent film, best screenplay, best actor (Colin Firth), best supporting actress (Helena Bonham Carter) and best supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush). 

Other notable winners included best actress recipient Carey Mulligan for "Never Let Me Go," foreign film honoree "A Prophet" and three wins for Gareth Edwards' indie genre flick "Monsters" including best director.

Carter and Liam Neeson were also given honorary awards at the ceremony.

Here's a full list of the night's winners:

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<p>Congrats Ewan, you just won a European Film Award for your work in &quot;The Ghost Writer.&quot;</p>

Congrats Ewan, you just won a European Film Award for your work in "The Ghost Writer."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

'The Ghost Writer' dominates the 2010 European Film Awards

Ewan McGregor wins best actor, 'The Illusionist' animated feature

The 2300 plus members of the European Film Academy have spoken and they have thoroughly endorsed Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" as the best picture of the year.  In a ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia tonight, the winners of the 23 European Film Awards were handed out and the Polanski thriller won six statues including European Film, Director, Actor (Ewan McGregor), Screenwriter (Robert Harris & Polanski), Production Design (Albrecht Konrad) and Composer (Alexandre Desplat).  

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<p>Colin Firth is the clear frontrunner to win best actor for his work in &quot;The King's Speech.&quot;</p>

Colin Firth is the clear frontrunner to win best actor for his work in "The King's Speech."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Contender Countdown: Experts still favor 'The King's Speech' for Oscar

Most kudos experts don't agree with NAB's pick of 'The Social Network'

"The Social Network" may have landed the first, cough, "critic's" group award by winning the top prize from the National Board of Review on Thursday, but most Oscar experts know that's hardly a universal barometer of a best picture winner.  Instead, the polling from Movie City News' long running Gurus of Gold (which includes this pundit) still finds Tom Hooper's period drama "The King's Speech" as the frontrunner for yet another week.

"Speech" earned that designation afters its critically and audience praised debut at Toronto in September and the limited Thanksgiving box office lived up to the hype.  Over the next month or so, The Weinstein Company has to transform that limited love to nationwide adoration to seal the deal with Academy voters.  It's really that simple.  More intriguing than "Network" is the possibilities of "Inception" and "True Grit" becoming spoilers in the race.  Let's just use the old cliche, "anything's possible" shall we?

In the meantime, here's the latest award season rankings from Awards Campaign along with the Gurus pick and some insider analysis.

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<p>Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling at a special screening of &quot;Blue Valentine.&quot;</p>

Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling at a special screening of "Blue Valentine."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Jake Gyllenhaal shows his support for Michelle Williams' 'Blue Valentine'

'Brokeback Mountain' stars reunite at Los Angeles screening

Jake Gyllenhaal was always a longshot candidate for awards kudos this year for his role in Ed Zwick's "Love and Other Drugs," but disappointing box office and so-so reviews have put an end to that potential run.  So while his "Drugs" co-star Anne Hathaway prepares to host the Oscars he's spreading some love to another "Brokeback Mountain" alum, Michelle Williams.

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<p>Jesse Eisenberg in &quot;The Social Network&quot;</p>

Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"

Credit: Sony Pictures

'The Social Network' best picture according to National Board of Review

'127 Hours,' 'Black Swan' and 'The Kids Are All Right' ignored by NY org

The National Board of Review announced its annual winners list for 2010 and "The Social Network" was the big winner as best film of the year.  The Scott Rudin production also won best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin) to dominate the organization's year end kudos.  The biggest surprises were the complete lack of recognition for Fox Searchlight's "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and Focus Features' "The Kids Are All Right."  To say the group might be showing its age is just a bit of an understatement ("Hereafter" top ten of the year? Really guys?).  

Still, as the first major awards out of the gate not specifically associated with independent film, the winners will be trumpeted by their respective studios over the next six weeks until Oscar nomination ballots are due.  With that in mind, let's look on how each award might help the films and talent at play.

Best Film - "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Sometimes NBR is a best picture predictor ("No Country For Old Men") and sometimes they are not ("Up in the Air").  It helps, but there is a long way to go.

Best Director - David Fincher, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Clearly a leading contender with our without this honor.  DGA win or loss will tell the tale.

Best Actor -Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: Still not convinced he's in the five, but this is a huge help.  If he gets a SAG, he's got a nod.  A win would be a big surprise. 

Best Actress - Leslie Manville, "Another Year"

Lowdown: This is actually a nice boost for Manville who could be facing more competition than expected for a nod here.  And, again, not opening until late Dec. and no screeners being sent out doesn't help her cause either.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale, "The Fighter"

Lowdown: He's a lock for a nod in any case, but could still lose to Geoffrey Rush once all is said and done.  Doesn't hurt though.

Best Supporting Actress - Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

Lowdown: Wow, Sony Classics pulled a fast one here.  She's still a huge reach to land an Oscar nod.

Best Foreign Film - "Of Gods and Men"

Lowdown: I'm trying to avoid putting a "Yawn" here, but I can't help it.  Let's see if it makes Oscar's final five.  I'm not convinced it will.

Best Documentary - "Waiting for 'Superman'"

Lowdown: This is a relief in many ways for Paramount after the Spirits snubbed it earlier this week.

Best Animated Feature - "Toy Story 3"

Lowdown:  Check that one off the list.  How many more wins to go?

Best Ensemble Cast - "The Town"

Lowdown:  A nice coup for Ben Affleck's thriller considering the competition. It's looking more and more like the thriller will make Oscar's 10.

Breakthrough Performance - Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"

Lowdown: Any recognition for Lawrence helps her, but she needs a SAG nomination big time.

Spotlight Award for Best Directorial Debut - Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, "Restrepo"

Lowdown: Nice recognition from the NBR.

Best Original Screenplay - Chris Sparling, "Buried"

Lowdown: Honestly, the biggest shocker of them all.  Even Sparling must be surprised.

Best Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"

Lowdown: The frontrunner and still out a head of the pack.

Special Filmmaking Achievement Award - Sofia Coppola, "Somewhere"

Lowdown:  Really?  Let's just leave it at that.

William K. Everson Film History Award - Leonard Maltin

NBR Freedom of Expression - "Fair Game," "Conviction," "Howl"

Lowdown: Searchlight's one recognition for "Conviction"?  Not what the mini-major expected.

Top Eleven Films (In alphabetical order):

"Another Year"

"The Fighter"



"The King’s Speech"

"Shutter Island"

"The Social Network"

"The Town"

"Toy Story 3"

"True Grit"

"Winter’s Bone"

Lowdown: Again, "127 Hours," "Black Swan" and "The Kids Are All Right" -- if one or two of them hadn't made it, O.K., but all three?  I'm afraid to ask what the average age of an NBR member is.  Is this your grandfather's Academy?  "Hereafter" and "Shutter Island" on the top list?  Just ridiculous.  

Top Ten Independent Films (In alphabetical order):

"Animal Kingdom"


"Fish Tank"

"The Ghost Writer"


 "Let Me In"


 "Please Give"


"Youth in Revolt"

Lowdown: This honor roll makes a lot more sense, but not including "Blue Valentine," "Get Low" or even "Kids Are All Right" is distressing.  

Top Six Foreign Films (In alphabetical order): 

 "I Am Love"
"Live, Above All"
"Of Gods and Men"
"White Material"

Lowdown: Happy to see "I Am Love" here.  Feeling as though "Incendies" is going to take most of these from the critic's groups.

Top Six Documentary Films (In alphabetical order): 

"A Film Unfinished"
"Inside Job"
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work"
"The Tillman Story"
"Waiting for 'Superman'"

Lowdown: What, no "Exit From The Gift Shop"?  Why am I not surprised?  Worth noting, "Joan Rivers" and "A Film Unfinished" did not make the Academy's documentary shortlist.

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