Oscar Talk: Final thoughts before the 2014 Academy Award nominations

Oscar Talk: Final thoughts before the 2014 Academy Award nominations

And why isn't 'Inside Llewyn Davis' taking off with the industry?

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

On the docket today…

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;Her.&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in "Her."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Her'

Spike Jonze's very 21st-century love story opens wide today

Spike Jonze's "Her" has been on limited release for the better part of a month now, but it finally goes wide today -- so those of you still left out of the loop can now find out why a film in which Joaquin Phoenix falls for a computer has attracted such critical superlatives across the board, as well as Best Picture prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association and National Board of Review.

I'm firmly in the fan club, having named it one of my top 15 films of 2013: I was touched by its high-concept romance, which I think touches on a number of hard truths about the way we communicate (or, more often don't) in the online age, was tickled by the gorgeous retro-futurism of its visuals, and think Joaquin Phoenix delivers one of the performances of the year. (Props to Scarlett Johansson's deft voice work, too, though I think Amy Adams is the unsung heroine of the piece.) Kris, however, is less convinced. Where do you land? Share your thoughts in the comments, and vote in the poll below.

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<p>David Oyelowo and Yaya Alafia in &quot;Lee Daniels' The Butler.&quot;</p>

David Oyelowo and Yaya Alafia in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Butler' leads film nominees at NAACP Image Awards

Other nominees range from '12 Years a Slave' to 'The Best Man Holiday'

After what has been universally acknowledged as a banner year for black filmmakers and black-themed cinema, the NAACP Image Awards -- usually an awards haven for popular film in the Tyler Perry vein -- have an unusual amount of prestige titles to recognize this year. Oscar frontrunner "12 Years a Slave," of course, figures heavily into the equation with six nominations, but its Lee Daniels' summer sleeper hit "The Butler" that leads the way with eight.

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<p>Amy&nbsp;Adams in &quot;American&nbsp;Hustle&quot;</p>

Amy Adams in "American Hustle"

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Captain Phillips,' 'American Hustle' and 'Breaking Bad' nominated for 2014 ACE Eddie Awards

The final season of AMC's hit series landed four nominations in one category

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) organization has announced nominees for the 64th annual ACE Eddie Awards, and "American Hustle" has predictably kept its strong guild showing going with a notice in the comedy or musical category.

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<p>Are BAFTAs being voted for in bad faith?</p>

Are BAFTAs being voted for in bad faith?

Credit: BAFTA

Roundup: BAFTA voter slams his fellow 'sheep'

Also: Steve McQueen's new TV project, and 'American Hustle's' J.Law problem

For a while now, awards-watchers have noted the transformation of BAFTA from a quirky British outsider to a fairly slavish Oscar follower in the awards race -- and it turns out some voters have too. One, in particular, has anonymously admonished the organization (himself included) for dishonest voting: "The voting process is based less on artistic merit than on a combination of coercion, trend-following and pot luck ... Bafta voting guidelines state explicitly that you must only vote for films you have seen. Which makes perfect sense. But I've done it. And I bet everyone else has, too. You vote for the ones you think are going to win. We're sheep. And we follow the sheep in front of us ... It's why the same old names appear year after year." Not exactly a revelation, this, nor is it is exclusive to BAFTA. [The Guardian]

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2014 Golden Globe Awards predictions

2014 Golden Globe Awards predictions

HitFix's awards team places bets across the board

Sunday night brings the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards. Members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will have their (and their various whisperers') say on the awards season in the form of wins in a variety of categories, on both the film and television side. Who will turn out the night's big winner? Will "Gravity," "12 Years a Slave" or "American Hustle" take command of the Oscar race? Will "Breaking Bad" get one more big send-off? Find out the answers to those questions and more as Gregory Ellwood, Guy Lodge, Daniel Fienberg and I place our bets on the various races, and tune in Sunday night to see who was right, and who was wrong.

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<p>&quot;Gravity&quot;&nbsp;looks to be a dominant force in the crafts categories.</p>

"Gravity" looks to be a dominant force in the crafts categories.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Tech Support: Final predictions for Best Cinematography, Makeup, Score, Song and Visual Effects

Part one of our final analysis before the nominations are unveiled

Here we go again. A week from today, the nominees for the 86th annual Academy Awards will be announced. Here at Tech Support, we've analyzed each of the 10 crafts categories, and interviewed several of the contenders. It's now a waiting game with final calls to be made. Today, we take a final look at the fields of cinematography, music, makeup and hairstyling and visual effects.

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<p>Sarah Polley in &quot;Stories We Tell.&quot;</p>

Sarah Polley in "Stories We Tell."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

'The Act of Killing,' 'Stories We Tell' take top awards at Cinema Eye Honors

Something for everyone, including Dave Grohl

The other day somebody asked me what my money was on for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar, and I realized I had no answer. Unlike last year, when "Searching for Sugar Man" swept all before it on its way to the Oscar podium, documentary honors have been generously dispersed this season -- and that trend of spreading the wealth continued at last night's Cinema Eye Honors in New York.

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<p>Onate Aprile in &quot;What Maisie Knew.&quot;</p>

Onate Aprile in "What Maisie Knew."

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

'The Spectacular Now,' 'What Maisie Knew' join Oscar heavyweights in USC Scripter nods

Awards recognize screenplays adapted from published work

The USC Scripter Awards are one of the more interesting precursor awards on the circuit, recognizing as they do two different forms of authorship. Sometimes mistaken for a direct equivalent of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, they are in fact limited to films based on published source material, rewarding both the screenwriter responsible for the adaptation and the author of the original text. (That means Oscar contenders like "Before Midnight" and "August: Osage County" are out of the picture.)

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix and Olivia Wilde in &quot;Her.&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix and Olivia Wilde in "Her."

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Her,' 'American Hustle' and 'Gravity' among Art Directors Guild nominees

Winners to be announced on February 8

There are no big surprises in this morning's list of Art Directors Guild nominees -- though I guess leaving "Oz the Great and Powerful" out of the Fantasy category is an unexpected display of good taste. All the expected Oscar contenders for Best Production Design showed up in one of the Guild's three categories, notably the Period field, where Judy Becker's lurid 70s decor for "American Hustle," Catherine Martin's Jazz Age excess for "The Great Gatsby" and Adam Stockhausen's tangibly weathered plantation sets for "12 Years a Slave" will presumably duke it out for the win. (Nice, too, to see Jess Gonchor's gorgeously faded recreation of early-60s New York in "Inside Llewyn Davis" make the cut.)

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