Best Actress 2014: Oscar contenders include Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep

Best Actress 2014: Oscar contenders include Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep

Oscar vets face newcomers in a competitive year for the category

This year's Best Actress race is full of Oscar veterans, but there are also a fair amount of up-and-coming indie hopefuls, outsider foreign film players and fresh faces to the awards scene looking for their first trip to the Dolby Theater.

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<p>Robin Weigert</p>

Robin Weigert

Credit: AP Photo/Taylor Jewell

Robin Weigert on leaving TV (and her inhibitions) behind in 'Concussion'

The Emmy-nominated actress is a revelation in the sexually charged indie

“Brave” is a word sorely overused by critics when describing any actor taking on a somewhat sexualized character – especially when they take off their clothing in the process. If the sexuality in question is LGBT, so much the “braver,” apparently. It's a word, then, that you may have read applied a few times to Robin Weigert's terrific performance as a dissatisfied lesbian wife and mother in Stacie Passon's sharp, sensual debut feature “Concussion” – released last Friday on the Weinsteins' TWC-Radius label.

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<p>Ben&nbsp;Stiller in &quot;The Secret Life of Walter Mitty&quot;</p>

Ben Stiller in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Second trailer for 'Walter Mitty' has a little more Ben Stiller flavor

The fantastical romance received mixed reviews at NYFF

There's a reason why teaser trailers are called just that -- they tease our imaginations with suggested possibilities, but tend to withhold the full picture. The initial teaser for Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" did a great job in that regard -- intriguing in its choice of sound and image, it provided several conflicting hints of where the romantic fantasy could go tonally. Now, with a complete trailer revealing more of the film to us -- well, those of us who haven't yet seen the whole thing at the New York Film Festival -- it would appear that "Walter Mitty" is slightly more straightforward than it initially appeared to be.

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<p>A scene from &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

A scene from "To the Wonder."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Roundup: On the mastery of Emmanuel Lubezki

Also: Why Timberlake needs to give acting a rest, and Oscar doc overload

Right up there with Roger Deakins, Mexican master Emmanuel Lubezki is surely among the cinematographers most due for Oscar recognition: he'll surely get his sixth Oscar nomination for "Gravity," and this looks increasingly likely to be the year he finally takes the gold. Today's must-read is a Vulture "master class" with Lubezki, in which he talks us through five dazzling shots from his career, focusing exclusively on his partnerships with Alfonso Cuaron and Terrence Malick, including this year's gorgeous twofer of "Gravity" and "To the Wonder." Take note, Academy. [Vulture]

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<p>Martin&nbsp;Scorsese's &quot;The Wolf of Wall Street&quot;&nbsp;was a good bet for a secret screening at NYFF&nbsp;until its release date woes.</p>

Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" was a good bet for a secret screening at NYFF until its release date woes.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

No (high profile) secret screening for NYFF this year?

The recently established tradition looks to be forgone in 2013

While films like "Hugo" and "Lincoln" may have received their first looks at the annual New York Film Festival via "secret screenings" in recent years, attendees can probably stop holding their breath for another surprise at the on-going 51st annual.

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<p>Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuaron's &quot;Gravity.&quot;</p>

Sandra Bullock in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Stop comparing 'Gravity' to 'Avatar' when it comes to Oscar

Not all apples and oranges are the same

After a film strikes a chord with moviegoers like "Gravity" did last weekend, it's easy to try and find analogies for it among previous Best Picture nominees or winners. One comparison that continues to be made is to James Cameron's 2009 game changer, "Avatar." Before we judge the merits of that argument, let's jog your brain and revisit some movie history, shall we?

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Watch: Judi Dench searches for her long-lost son in tearjerking 'Philomena' trailer
Credit: The Weinstein Company

Watch: Judi Dench searches for her long-lost son in tearjerking 'Philomena' trailer

Bonus: Hear the Oscar-winning actress break down 'Big Momma's House'

Always wanted to hear Judi Dench break down the plot of "Big Momma's House" but never thought you'd see the day? Well friends, the wait is over.

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<p>Chad has entered Cannes competitor &quot;Grigris&quot; in the Oscar race.&nbsp;</p>

Chad has entered Cannes competitor "Grigris" in the Oscar race. 

Credit: Les Films du Losange

Firsts and disqualifications as a record 76 countries enter foreign Oscar race

Chad enters, but Agnieszka Holland won't compete for the Czech Republic

Well, no sooner had I updated the category than the Academy announced the final, official slate of submissions for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and a bumper slate it is. Last year's race featured 71 films, then a record number; this year, that record has been broken by a significant margin, with 76 territories vying for the award

Among them are a couple of nations entering the race for the first time, including Saudi Arabia (a favorite for a nomination, and possibly the win, with the feminist heartwarmer "Wadjda"), Moldova and Montenegro.

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<p>Sophie N&eacute;lisse in &quot;The Book Thief&quot;</p>

Sophie Nélisse in "The Book Thief"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Off the Carpet: Fox enters the Oscar season with 'The Book Thief' and 'Walter Mitty'

Can they register in what is already a crowded season?

This weekend, 20th Century Fox arrived to the 2013 film awards season with a pair of hopefuls that couldn't be more different from the outside. Nevertheless, Brian Percival's "The Book Thief" and Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," both of which will be viewed as cloying in some circles, are made with an honesty that could stave off some of the cynicism and register. At the end of the day, though, neither is the slam dunk contender the studio may have hoped for a year after "Life of Pi."

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<p>Steven Soderbergh at the 2013 Emmy Awards.</p>

Steven Soderbergh at the 2013 Emmy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

How Steven Soderbergh helped edit Spike Jonze's 'Her'

...and how Chris Cooper got the chop

There are, obviously, many reasons to look forward to Spike Jonze's "Her," which premieres at the New York Film Festival later this week -- beginning, of course, with the fact that it's a Spike Jonze movie, and his first since 2009's "Where the Wild Things Are" (much loved round these parts). But news of another major filmmaker's indirect input just makes the whole project that much more intriguing.

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