<p>Tom Hardy and Elton John at this morning's &quot;Rocketman&quot; buyers' event.</p>

Tom Hardy and Elton John at this morning's "Rocketman" buyers' event.

Credit: DDA PR

Tom Hardy and Elton John buddy up to present 'Rocketman' biopic

Could the year's least expected casting news turn to 2015 Oscar gold?

Ye gods, what is this: am I seeing double? Were they separated at birth? Is it an optical illusion, with one of them looking in a mirror? How else to explain the uncanny resemblance betw--okay, okay, I'll stop now. Suffice to say this shot of Tom Hardy and Elton John from this morning doesn't exactly highlight the physical likeness between the hulking actor and the legendarily flamboyant pop star, which is why the thought of the former playing the latter in an upcoming film remains so deliciously, intriguingly weird.

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<p>Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with &quot;Live By Night&quot; on Christmas Day 2015.</p>

Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with "Live By Night" on Christmas Day 2015.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait: Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' and Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' get dates

Could either impact future awards seasons?

It's never too early to look at future awards season players. Today, Warner Bros. slotted two potential players with new release dates.

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2014 Adapted and Original Screenplay Oscar Contenders: Most competitive year ever?

2014 Adapted and Original Screenplay Oscar Contenders: Most competitive year ever?

This year's field of originals and adaptations is incredibly dense

As we begin to taper off the weekly category run-downs (we have just one more left, Best Animated Feature Film), we move on to the screenplays. It's an interesting mix and the two categories, while not loaded with a ton of contenders, are still quite dense with multiple hopefuls sporting a fair shot at recognition from the writers branch.

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<p>Disney's &quot;Frozen&quot;&nbsp;looks to be the frontrunner in this year's race.</p>

Disney's "Frozen" looks to be the frontrunner in this year's race.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

19 animated features submitted for 2013 Oscar race

If at least 16 of them qualify the category will stretch to five nominees

The Academy has announced that 19 films have been submitted for consideration in this year's Best Animated Feature Film race. Per Academy rules, 16 qualifying films are needed for the category to extend to five nominations. But all 19 may not qualify. For instance, "The Smurfs 2" was submitted by Sony, but as with the first film in that franchise a few years ago, it could be dismissed by the Academy as ineligible due to various factors.

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

Andrew Dominik on the set of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Exclusive: Andrew Dominik could give you his 'Jesse James' director's cut in 'half a day'

One deleted scene in particular might have landed Brad Pitt an Oscar nod

In the years since the 2007 release of Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," an even longer, deeper-realized cut of the 160-minute western has been a sort of holy grail for the film's acolytes. Mostly that's because of how within reach the possibility seems. This isn't a six-hour "Thin Red Line" that can't see the light of day by both reason and practicality. It's something that already has the willingness of the director going for it and could just use a little support from the studio to be realized.

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<p>Cate Blanchett at the&nbsp;Paris premiere of &quot;Blue Jasmine&quot; in August.</p>

Cate Blanchett at the Paris premiere of "Blue Jasmine" in August.

Credit: AP Photo

Cate Blanchett named Santa Barbara's Outstanding Performer of the Year

The Oscar winner will receive her prize at the 29th annual festival in February

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has kicked off a wave of tribute announcements today with the revelation that Cate Blanchett will receive this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year award for her work in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

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<p>Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in &quot;Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.&quot;</p>

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: 'Mandela' goes to Washington

Also: Independent directors dish, and how the Academy got it right in 1988

You need only look to "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" to observe how hard the fall festival circuit can be on certain prestige hopefuls: prime Oscar bait on paper, The Weinstein Company contender's buzz plummeted after a first wave of reviews that deemed it (not inaccurately, I think) turgid biopic-by-numbers stuff, however well-acted. How to get people talking about it again? Well, the announcement of an official White House screening this week for President Obama, due to be attended by Mandela's daughters and stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, will earn it a fresh batch of headlines and nifty photo opportunities. Will it help? Tim Gray considers the value of a political endorsement. [Variety]

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Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to open 2014 Berlinale
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to open 2014 Berlinale

The all-star comedy will have its world premiere at the February fest

The Berlin Film Festival is generally seen as the least glamorous of the three major European fests: taking place in snowy February, it lands either too late or too early in the calendar to grab the sparkly awards-season hopefuls or the A-list international auteur titles. So landing the world premiere of Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" as their Opening Film on February 6, 2014 is obviously a great get for the Berlinale -- one that may attract more international press than usual.

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<p>&quot;The Act of Killing&quot;</p>

"The Act of Killing"

Credit: Drafthouse Films

Three documentaries nominated for European Film Award

Can 'The Act of KIlling' score on both sides of the Atlantic?

The European Film Awards are really spreading out their nominations announcement this year -- a couple of weeks ago, we got the nominees for Best Animated Feature, last week brought the winners in the technical categories, and today we have the final three films in the running for Best Documentary Feature. On Saturday, nominees in all remaining categories will be revealed; I guess this is their way of shining an individual spotlight on less covered races.

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<p>&quot;This is the End&quot;</p>

"This is the End"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Five Golden Globe comedies the HFPA should be considering but probably isn't

The usual suspects are sure to dominate but these deserve a boost

The deadline for Golden Globe submissions was Friday and so studios had to declare whether their contenders would be aiming for comedy or drama consideration. Of course, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) can overturn these categorizations, as they have in the past with films like "True Grit." Between now and the time ballots go out to members of the organization on Nov. 27, the group may do that with one or more of the films that straddle the line between comedy and drama, but it's a rare occurrence.

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