<p>June Squibb in &quot;Nebraska,&quot; this year's lowest-grossing Best Picture nominee.</p>

June Squibb in "Nebraska," this year's lowest-grossing Best Picture nominee.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Roundup: The apathy of this year's Oscar season

Also: An Oscar voter shares his choices, and Harvey Weinstein loves 'The Croods'

It has been, as pretty much everyone has noted, a lengthy Oscar season, made additionally trying by certain squabbles and controversies along the way. As Brooks Barnes writes, however, it's not just insiders that are feeling the apathy, but the moviegoing public too. Noting that there's been less of a post-nomination commercial bump than usual for a lot of the nominees, he wonders if the expanded Best Picture field is partly responsible. He quotes PR expert Joe Quenqua: “That led to a lot more noise, and it potentially diluted the specialness ... You wonder at what point the average consumer becomes confused and tunes it all out.” [New York Times]

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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Cinematography - Does a longtime bridesmaid finally get his due?

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Cinematography - Does a longtime bridesmaid finally get his due?

And no, we're not talking about Roger Deakins -- not yet

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Supporting Actor - Will Jared Leto continue to dominate?

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Supporting Actor - Will Jared Leto continue to dominate?

Five younger actors square off as the vets sit this category out for a change

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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<p>Steve McQueen accepts Best Film at last weekend's BAFTA&nbsp;Awards.</p>

Steve McQueen accepts Best Film at last weekend's BAFTA Awards.

Credit: AP Photo

The Long Shot: 'Gravity,' '12 Years a Slave' and a little less conversation

The implications of this year's Best Picture race are exciting whatever the outcome

Admittedly, Oscar season never felt half as long when it wasn't part of my profession to cover it -- and to think there was a time when the Motion Picture Sound Editors' awards would simply pass right by me -- but it's increasingly hard to believe we once put up with it all the way until late March (or even early April, in some extreme years). The internet has doubtless egged on the speedier expenditure of Oscar-related conversation, exhausting relevant points of argument from as early as September.

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<p>Amy&nbsp;Adams,&nbsp;Bradley&nbsp;Cooper and Christian&nbsp;Bale in &quot;American Hustle&quot;</p>

Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale in "American Hustle"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Oscar-nominated 'American Hustle' designers reflect on bringing the 70s to life

Production designer Judy Becker and costume designer Michael Wilkinson had a colorful opportunity on their hands

"American Hustle" has lit up both the movie-going public and the Academy with its cool take on late-1970s Americana. While an enormous amount of credit obviously goes to the acclaimed performances and the atmosphere created by director David O. Russell, the look and feel of the era was also largely the result of the collaboration between costume designer Michael Wilkinson and production designer Judy Becker, both Oscar-nominated for their work on the film.

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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Visual Effects - Everyone clear a path for 'Gravity'

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Visual Effects - Everyone clear a path for 'Gravity'

Analyzing this year's nominees from outer space to the old west

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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<p>Christoph Waltz at last year's Oscar ceremony.</p>

Christoph Waltz at last year's Oscar ceremony.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Roundup: The science of Oscar acceptance speeches

Also: Nas doc to open Tribeca, and the worst reviews of Best Picture nominees

Who gets thanked the most in Oscar acceptance speeches? Nathaniel Rogers and Chris Kirk crunch the numbers from the last decade's worth of ceremonies, and have made some interesting discoveries -- chief among them, that Meryl Streep gets thanked more often than God. "What comes out in the moment—or doesn’t—is a true reflection of feeling, whether the speech feels rehearsed and polished or immediate and spazzy. And in Hollywood—and what’s more Hollywood than the Oscars?—billing matters," they write. Included is an exhaustive cross-referenced chart breaking down individuals actors' speech by class of person thanked, and in what order. Geek out. [Slate]

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11 suggestions to improve this year's Oscars

11 suggestions to improve this year's Oscars

They probably have it all figured out, but just in case...

By now, the ideas are already in place for the 86th annual Academy Awards. We've heard about a few of them, of course. Like the vague them of "heroes" and the celebration of "The Wizard of Oz." And of course, we all know the Best Original Song nominees will be on hand to perform. But outside of that, there are certainly a few things we HOPE we'll see on the show. The Oscars seem ever in need of improvement (and naturally, everyone's a critic). So we humbly offer 11 suggestions, should the producers be in some last-minute scramble to figure this thing out.

Check out what we're thinking in the gallery story below and feel free to offer up your own suggestions in the comments section.

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<p>Bette Midler is set to perform at the Oscars</p>

Bette Midler is set to perform at the Oscars

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Bette Midler to perform at Academy Awards Ceremony

This will be the first time Midler has sung on the show
The producers of this year's Academy Awards telecast, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, announced that award-winning singer Bette Midler will be performing on the show. In addition to having won Grammys, Emmys, and a Tony, Midler has also been nominated for two Academy Awards.
 
Midler's two Academy Award nominations are for Actress in a Leading Role in "For the Boys" and "The Rose." Midler has not been nominated for a song and the appearance this year will be the first time she will perform on the show.
 
 Zadan and Meron stated, "We are thrilled to have Bette perform on the Oscars for the very first time." They added, “We believe she will make our Oscar telecast an especially moving evening.” 
 
No word was offered in the press release about when during the Oscars Midler will be sing, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility that she will do so during the annual In Memoriam portion of the telecast.
 
Presented at the Dolby Theatre on March 2nd, this year's event will again air on ABC and Ellen DeGeneres is serving as host for the second time.

 

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<p>Jared Leto in &quot;Dallas Buyers Club.&quot;</p>

Jared Leto in "Dallas Buyers Club."

Credit: Focus Features

Roundup: Could 'Dallas Buyers Club' win the makeup Oscar on just $250?

Also: An anti-feminist moment in 'Frozen,' and Rob Reiner's Lincoln Center award

"Dallas Buyers Club" is looks likely to win the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar, not least because AMPAS members might feel happier checking that off than "Bad Grandpa" or "The Lone Ranger." If it does, though, it'll surely be the humblest achievement ever to take the award, as Katey Rich learns that makeup artist Robin Mathews' entire budget for the film was just $250: "'The Academy just gasped when they heard that,' Mathews says, with no lack of pride in her voice ... 'We had to take them back and forth from their sickest look to their healthiest look, up to five times in one day ... They maintained that 40-pound weight loss throughout. So when you see them in the film, and they look like they’re 25 pounds heavier and healthier because of the medication, that’s just makeup.'" [Vanity Fair]

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