'American Hustle' and 'August: Osage County' stars rule the Palm Springs Gala red carpet

'American Hustle' and 'August: Osage County' stars rule the Palm Springs Gala red carpet

Plus: Sandra Bullock, Colin Farrell, Tom Hanks and more

A slew of former Oscar winners and nominees headed to the desert for the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards gala Saturday evening.  The reason for the 2 hour plus ride from Los Angeles? Well, almost all of the famous faces on hand are hoping to earn Academy Award nominations later this month or assist a specific film in landing a best picture nod.  It's become a staple on the awards season circuit and one reason stars from "American Hustle," "12 Years A Slave," "August: Osage County" and "Gravity" were on hand.

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<p>Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell's &quot;American Hustle.&quot;</p>

Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell's "American Hustle."

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Inside Llewyn Davis' dominates National Society of Film Critics honors

Another win for 'Spring Breakers' star James Franco

The National Society of Film Critics announced its 2013 honorees this afternoon and gave a much needed boost to the Oscar nomination chances for "Inside Llewyn Davis." 

"Davis" earned best film, best director (Joel and Ethan Coen), best actor (Oscar Isaac) and best cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel) honors. The NFSC also gave kudos to "American Hustle's" Jennifer Lawrence for best supporting actress and "Spring Breakers'" James Franco for best supporting actor.  Cate Blanchett once again won another best actress honor for "Blue Jasmine."

The NSFC has over 60 members from publications around the nation and their choices have historically not always lineup with their own local critics groups. The past five previous best film winners include "Amour," "Melancholia," "The Social Network," "The Hurt Locker" and "Waltz with Bashir."  "The Hurt Locker" and "Million Dollar Baby" are the only films the organization has chosen as best film that also won the Oscar for best picture in the past 20 years. You can find a somewhat dated list of the membership on their official website here.

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25 most anticipated prestige films of 2014: 'Inherent Vice,' 'Nymphomaniac,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

25 most anticipated prestige films of 2014: 'Inherent Vice,' 'Nymphomaniac,' 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Which auteur pieces and likely festival items have us excited?

Earlier this week, Kris, Greg and Drew put their heads together to compile a list of their 25 most anticipated films of 2014. It was certainly a fine, blockbuster-heavy list, but the cinematic buffet ahead of us stretches a lot further than just 25 films -- so we decided there was room for another list, focusing slightly more on the year's more specialist options.

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<p>On the set of &quot;All is Lost&quot;</p>

On the set of "All is Lost"

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Exclusive: Dive behind the scenes of 'All is Lost'

Below the line principals detail the journey of bringing the film to life

"We've done pretty much all you can do to a boat," director J.C. Chandor says of his latest film "All is Lost" in an exclusive featurette we're premiering for you today. And indeed, the production of this film was a substantial undertaking from a crafts standpoint and it's a treat to see all of the principals in one video giving their perspective on the film.

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"Lone Survivor"

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Dallas Buyers Club,' 'Lone Survivor,' 'Wolf of Wall Street' land WGA nominations

'Gravity' and 'Inside Llewyn Davis' miss, '12 Years a Slave' ineligible

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) has announced this year's list of narrative and documentary feature screenplay nominees, and given the wave of ineligibilities, which included such Oscar players as "12 Years a Slave," "Philomena" and "Fruitvale Station," it was a much smaller crop for the guild to choose from.

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<p>Spike Jonze (center) and&nbsp;Hoyte Van&nbsp;Hoytema (right) on the set of &quot;Her&quot;</p>

Spike Jonze (center) and Hoyte Van Hoytema (right) on the set of "Her"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema on capturing Spike Jonze's 'Her' through a non-dystopian lens

Also: What can we expect from Christopher Nolan's 'Interstellar?'

Hoyte Van Hoytema hit most cinephiles' radar in 2008 with the Swedish horror film "Let the Right One In." It was a dazzling display, a crystalline vision from director Tomas Alfredson aided by rich visuals that found Van Hoytema's work prominently recognized in an annual In Contention feature celebrating the greatest images in cinematography (and again a few years later.)

From there, the director of photography made his move into domestic features as David O. Russell — who has an eye for top cinematography talent, from Newton Thomas Sigel to Peter Deming to Masanobu Takayanagi — tapped him for the award-winning "The Fighter" in 2010. He kept the Alfredson partnership going with the director's 2011 English-language debut "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and in 2013 found himself collaborating with Spike Jonze on the critically acclaimed "Her."

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<p>&quot;The Notebook&quot;</p>

"The Notebook"

Credit: Sony Classics

Roundup: Sony Classics back in the foreign Oscar race with 'The Notebook'

Also: How 2013 was a lean year for female directors

Sony Pictures Classics is usually the dominant force in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race -- they've won the award for the last four years running. But they took a knock when the Academy unveiled the nine-film shortlist last month: with "The Past" and "Wadjda" failing to make the cut, the savvy campaigners were left without a contender in the hunt. Until now. SPC has picked up one of the two distributor-less titles on the list, Hungary's hard-edged Holocaust drama "The Notebook." It was already a strong nomination possibility, given the Academy's seemingly tireless taste for films on that era. Now that it has Sony's undivided attention in this competitive category, however, it's a formidable threat. [Deadline

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<p>George Clooney in &quot;Gravity&quot;</p>

George Clooney in "Gravity"

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Gravity' wins Best Picture from Central Ohio critics

Ejiofor, Exarchopoulos, Franco and Lawrence win acting honors

"Gravity" picked up another Best Picture prize on the critics circuit today as the Central Ohio Film Critics Association handed it the year's top honor. Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for the film and Emmanuel Lubezki won Best Cinematography. Top acting honors went to Chiwetel Ejiofor and Adèle Exarchopoulos and James Franco was recognized for his work in "Spring Breakers." Check out the nominees here, the full list of winners below and remember to keep track of the season at The Circuit.

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<p>Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in &quot;The Spectacular Now.&quot;</p>

Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in "The Spectacular Now."

Credit: A24

Previewing the 2014 WGA nominations

With the likes of '12 Years a Slave' ineligible, which underdogs will benefit?

As you may have noticed earlier today, we are now firmly into the Guild stage of the season -- with the critics (bar a few groups, notably the august National Society) having largely had their say, it's time for the industry to pinpoint their favorites of the season. More often than not, Guild nominations usher in a wave of dull consensus: while you'd hope various groups of professional peers would single out different films for different reasons, they have a tendency to zero in on the same tightening circle of Oscar contenders, whether the films particularly excel in their department or not. (Remember when "Sumdog Millionaire" won everything from the SAG ensemble prize to the Costume Designers' Guild award a few years back?)

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<p>A scene from &quot;Mandela:&nbsp;Long Walk to Freedom&quot;</p>

A scene from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Mandela' composer Alex Heffes reflects on the experience of putting music to a legend's life

'The lens of scrutiny is very much focused.'

It's enough of a challenge to capture a life like Nelson Mandela's in a 146-minute film, but how do you use music to reflect such an extraordinary man? That is the challenge that faced composer Alex Heffes on Justin Chadwick's "Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom," and his compositions have since earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.

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