<p>Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller at the AFI Film Fest premiere of &quot;The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.&quot;</p>

Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig and Ben Stiller at the AFI Film Fest premiere of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Credit: AP Photo/John Schearer

Contender Countdown: Oscar likes to party all the time

Busy Wednesday night in La-La land

If you were an Academy or guild member Wednesday night, you may have had a tough time determining your social schedule. There were at least four major events you could have attended tied to this year's awards season. Yes, the circuit is in full effect and it's just the second week of November.

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<p>&quot;Prisoners&quot;&nbsp;could be a sleeper contender this year.</p>

"Prisoners" could be a sleeper contender this year.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Tech Support: Could Alfonso Cuarón join James Cameron on an exclusive list of editors?

Other contenders include 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' '12 Years a Slave' and 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

In recent years, the awards media has caught on to the relationship between the categories of Best Film Editing and Best Picture. Even films like "Argo" and "Crash," which did not win the Best Director Oscar, picked up the trophy for Best Film Editing. Every year, the vast majority of nominees in this category (sometimes even five out of five) are also cited in the top category.

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<p>Steve Martin and Punch Brothers get down at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica</p>

Steve Martin and Punch Brothers get down at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica

Credit: HitFix

Steve Martin, Punch Brothers and more celebrate 'Llewyn Davis' at Santa Monica jam session

T Bone Burnett and company wrangle another lively musical event for the film

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — After premiering at Cannes and bringing the film (and a jam session) to Telluride, not to mention a big concert event in New York ahead of a NYFF bow, it was time to bring the "Inside Llewyn Davis" party to Los Angeles Wednesday night as CBS Films, producer Scott Rudin and music maestro T Bone Burnett turned out quite the crowd at The Buffalo Club in Santa Monica. A number of talented young acts hit the stage to offer up a pair of folk music sets for the largely industry crowd, and they even had a celebrity surprise up their sleeve.

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

Joaquin Phoenix in "Her"

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Her' Q&A: Spike Jonze on why he replaced Samantha Morton with Scarlett Johansson

Also: How did the film influence Arcade Fire's new album 'Reflektor?'

HOLLYWOOD — Unfortunately for Spike Jonze, the pivotal role of "Samantha" in his new sci-fi tinged romantic drama "Her" had to be recast after the film was already in the can. Luckily for Spike Jonze, "Samantha" is actually a computer operating system - i.e. she's never actually seen on-screen.

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<p>Ben Affleck</p>

Ben Affleck

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Why Ben Affleck loves 'Enough Said,' and more peer appreciation

Also: NYFCC names the date, and Alexander Payne's male weepie expertise

The best vaguely Oscar-related feature online today is Variety's "Directors on Directors" gallery, in which notable filmmakers comment on other directors' work that most stood out to them this year. Obviously, it's one big back-patting session, but it's the occasionally surprising combinations that make it interesting. It's not hard to see why Peter Bogdanovich would be so keen on Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," or Michael Mann on "Captain Phillips," but I wouldn't necessarily have expected Ben Affleck to single out Nicole Holofcener's "Enough Said." "Her direction is void of spectacle, distraction or maudlin sentiment," he says. "She directs with the humanist, realist sensibility of Renoir." Also cool: Ryan Fleck on Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines," and plenty more. [Variety]

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<p>B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman in &quot;Saving Mr. Banks.&quot;</p>

B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman in "Saving Mr. Banks."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The Long Shot: Acting important and playing nice

Balancing likeability with laudability in the Oscar race
"It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." If I were being accurate, I could attribute this quote to John Cassis. Since I'm being honest, I'll admit that I've always attributed it to a poster on the wall of Mrs. Rindner's first-grade classroom, where it was accompanied by an adorable image of a ginger kitten looking as morally conflicted as a file-photo ginger kitten can look. (Not very, then.) I read it many times, puzzling over its relative validity. Aged five, I think I admired the sentiment more than I believed it; aged 30, that's still the case, though I do think of those words often during the Oscar season.
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<p>A&nbsp;scene from &quot;Captain Phillips&quot;</p>

A scene from "Captain Phillips"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Composer Henry Jackman on 'musical constraint' and minimalism in 'Captain Phillips'

How Paul Greengrass' journalistic sense of skepticism informed the score

For the past month, "Captain Phillips" has riveted filmgoers and critics with its uber-realistic take on piracy and hostage-taking. One might expect a film with such a harrowing story and epic scope would have a similarly dramatic score. But the work of composer Henry Jackman, though extremely complementary to what was seen on screen, ended up being far from the theme-heavy bombastic music that is frequently on display in such epics.

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<p>Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron at last night's &quot;Lone Survivor&quot; party.</p>

Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron at last night's "Lone Survivor" party.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Roundup: Oscar and all tomorrow's parties

Also: 'Lone Survivor' makes a splash, and what happened to Holly Hunter?

The Oscar race may be a little under four months away, but the campaign circuit is already in full swing in Hollywood, where any number of industry screenings, Q&A's, parties, dinners and other glad-handing events are vying for the time and attention of voters. Glenn Whipp considers today's packed diary, with competing events for "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," "12 Years a Slave," "Her," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," and wonders if things have already gone too far. "It's out of control," one academy member said of the barrage of events. Says one Academy member, "It's out of control ...people are already burned out. I'm just going to put on my pajamas and wait for the screeners to start arriving." The heart bleeds, doesn't it? [LA Times

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Best Animated Feature 2014: Is this the weakest year for the category to date?

Best Animated Feature 2014: Is this the weakest year for the category to date?

An lackluster slate could bring Walt Disney Animation that elusive first Oscar win

Last week the Academy announced its list of 19 films submitted for consideration in this year's Best Animated Feature Film Oscar race. Not all 19 are immediately eligible as there are other criteria they have to pass first, but even if two or three are knocked from the list (and only one really looks to be nixed), there will be at least 16 contenders, meaning the Academy's animation branch has the option of nominating up to five films.

But even then, that's just a ceiling, not a requirement. And in a year as seemingly weak as this for the category, it's entirely possible not enough movies hit high enough marks in the scoring process to even get it to five. Nevertheless, with the list out, it seemed the perfect opportunity for us to wrap up our weekly contender galleries feature. So have a look below to see what we're thinking and feel free to comment on this year's Best Animated Feature Film race in the comments section. Also, if you haven't already, sign up for HitFix Oscar Picks and make your own predictions.

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<p>&quot;The Assassination of Jesse&nbsp;James by the Coward Robert Ford&quot;</p>

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Win a poster and a pair of tickets to the 'Jesse James' revival screening in New York!

New York-area readers, we have something for you...

By now we imagine you're well aware of the upcoming revival screening of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" set for the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. The event sold out in 24 hours but we have an opportunity for New York-area readers to win a pair of tickets to the screening and Q&A as well as an official one-sheet for the film.

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