<p>Will &quot;Argo&quot; continue its winning streak at the BAFTAs tomorrow?</p>

Will "Argo" continue its winning streak at the BAFTAs tomorrow?

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Predicting the BAFTA awards

'Argo?' 'Life of Pi?' What will win, and what should?

Tomorrow night's BAFTA Awards are the last televised stop on the awards calendar before the Oscars, and in a year where several key races remain unsettled, they'll be watched even more eagerly than usual by awards pundits. (Well, "followed" if not "watched" -- I, for one, won't have access to the live broadcast of the show, annually shown on a quaint tape-delay system that suggests the BBC hasn't quite got to grips yet with a little thing called the internet. But I digress.)

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<p>&quot;Roof Sex&quot;&nbsp;by PES</p>

"Roof Sex" by PES

Credit: PES Productions

Brush up on 'Fresh Guacamole' Oscar nominee PES

The underdog of this year's race is nevertheless a superb talent

We broke down the Best Animated Short category last week both in the on-going Oscar Guide feature (other editions linked below this post) and on yesterday's Oscar Talk podcast. The race is a bit nebulous with the recent decision to open the category up to the entire Academy, with fine cases made for Disney's "Paperman," self-funded "Adam and Dog" and student film "Head Over Heels," Annie winners all. The notion of voting blocs has also suggested an edge for "Paperman" and "Maggie Simpson in ' The Longest Daycare.'" The one thing most seem to agree on is that the brief, bold "Fresh Guacamole" is the underdog.

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A scene from "Paradise: Hope."
A scene from "Paradise: Hope."
Credit: Strand Releasing

Review: 'Paradise: Hope' concludes a provocative trilogy on a humane note

HitFix
B+
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Earlier chapters played Cannes and Venice, but Berlin gets the best of the three

BERLIN - Funny, disquieting and featuring more sexual humiliation and self-flagellation than any project with which James Franco is currently connected, Ulrich Seidl's newly completed "Paradise" trilogy has recently bombarded the European festival circuit -- in a manner unmatched since Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" films hit the Venice-Berlin-Cannes route, almost 20 years ago, in the space of just nine months. Less than a year after pitiless sex-tourism study "Paradise: Love" jolted Cannes and religious fundamentalism parable "Paradise: Faith" took a major Venice prize, the youth-focused "Paradise: Hope" has seen out the Austrian auteur's unsettling vision with a premiere closer to home at the Berlinale.

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Ben Affleck's first Oscar
Credit: AP Photo/Susan Sterner

Ben Affleck's first Oscar

Looking back at the 'Argo' director's Academy Award-winning 'Good Will Hunting'

If indeed "Argo" beats the odds and the history and the stats and manages to take the Best Picture Oscar in a few weeks, Ben Affleck, in lieu of recognition as a director, will be able to take the stage at the Dolby Theatre and hold an Academy Award aloft as producer. But as we all know, it wouldn't be his first time clutching the little golden guy. That moment came on March 23, 1998.

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<p>Charlize Theron in 'Snow White and the&nbsp;Huntsman&quot;</p>

Charlize Theron in 'Snow White and the Huntsman"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Oscar Guide 2013: Best Visual Effects

'The Avengers,' 'The Hobbit,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Prometheus' and 'Snow White and the Huntsman' square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film.  A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

I can’t say the nominees in the Best Visual Effects category this year are unusual. We have three summer blockbusters, one Christmas blockbuster and one gorgeous 3D Best Picture contender. Two films could perhaps be considered “snubbed,” though.

“Cloud Atlas” being left off became more and more predictable as we got closer and closer to the nominees – this divisive bomb just wasn’t that loved in Hollywood. “The Dark Knight Rises,” however, is a surprising omission. It joins “Insomnia” and “Following” as rare Christopher Nolan films to be shut out of Oscar nominations. As far as the race for the win is concerned, this ranks right up with Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress as being a done deal.

The nominees are…

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<p>&quot;Django Unchained&quot;</p>

"Django Unchained"

Credit: Gallery1988/AMPAS

The Academy teams with Gallery1988 for Best Picture print exhibition

Which one is your favorite?

The Academy has teamed up with Gallery1988 in Los Angeles to present a new Oscar-centric exhibition, "For Your Consideration," featuring originally designed artwork for each of the nine Best Picture nominees this year.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 105 -- Affleck wins another and the nominees do lunch

Oscar Talk: Ep. 105 -- Affleck wins another and the nominees do lunch

Also: Digging into the visual effects and animated categories

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday 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.

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<p>Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson in &quot;Hitchcock&quot;</p>

Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson in "Hitchcock"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar Guide: 2013: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

'Hitchcock,' 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey' and 'Les Misérables' square off

(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film.  A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)

The first year of “Best Makeup and Hairstyling” doesn’t suggest much has changed in this category with the hairstylists now being more prominently recognized. We continue to have a biopic where a famous actor was transformed into a famous historical figure, a historical epic with aging and battle wounds, and a fantasy epic which created many a monster.

As this category was whittled down to seven bake-off finalists and three nominees, there were surprise omissions at both the first (“Cloud Atlas”) and second (“Lincoln”) stages. But for those of us who have watched this category for years, we have come to realize nothing can really be considered a surprise with this lot. And this year, the category is WIDE OPEN. That is refreshing.

The nominees are…

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<p>At least one Academy member is voting for &quot;Silver Linings Playbook&quot; across the board.</p>

At least one Academy member is voting for "Silver Linings Playbook" across the board.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: Inside the minds of three Oscar voters

Also: The politics of the In Memoriam montage, and 'Lincoln' vs. Connecticut

Various outlets do features along these lines every year, but for some reason, getting Academy members to share their ballots anonymous never loses its thrill for me -- they may just be single voices out of 6000-plus members, but they often make it that much easier to understand where certain Oscar voting trends are coming from. The LA Times has printed the picks of three members -- a producer, director and actor, two of them former nominees themselves -- with commentary. The actor is clearly indicative of where the Academy's "Silver Linings Playbook" love has been coming from, voting for it in every possible category, while the producer and director spread their affections around a little more, with "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo," "Lincoln" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" all getting some respect. No unanimous choices, either. [LA Times]

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<p>Zhang Ziyi in &quot;The Grandmaster.&quot;</p>

Zhang Ziyi in "The Grandmaster."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Wong Kar-wai's long-awaited 'The Grandmaster' opens Berlin on a conflicted note

HitFix
C+
Readers
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Typically gorgeous but narratively choppy martial arts epic fails to fly

BERLIN - The waiting, as noted philosopher Thomas Earl Petty once said, is the hardest part. Just as some of Terrence Malick's languorously produced films premiered as near-mirages, to the point that the mere fact of their existence had to be absorbed before the critical conversation could begin in earnest, it's difficult to consider Wong Kar-wai's "The Grandmaster" without its extensively delayed arrival having some effect on one's gut response.

In the moment, heated anticipation can turn a merely good film into a masterpiece, a mere misfire into a disaster. "The Grandmaster," a predictably picturesque but surprisingly unconfident foray into would-be lusty commercial movie-making for the singular arthouse stylist of "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love," goes to neither of these extremes, but its missteps are doubly dismaying for the knowledge that Wong deliberated over them so long.

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