<p>Christoph Waltz in &quot;Django Unchained.&quot;</p>

Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The Long Shot: Categorically speaking

The leading-supporting divide is blurrier than ever in this year's Oscar race

“Category fraud.” It's a phrase that means precisely nothing to anybody who doesn't scrutinize the Oscars with all the methodical dedication of a veteran trainspotter – but within that self-selecting circle, it's an issue that seems to prompt more heated opinions by the year.

Implying veritably criminal levels of bad faith, it's a strangely emphatic term for a practice that frequently occurs in the grayest of areas, amid such intangibles as narrative, perspective and character. The Oscar campaigning game has seen many dirty tricks and cynical strategies pass undetected over the years, but woe betide the supporting hopeful whose role is seen as a little too large for his targeted trophy, or the uppity ensemble player with ideas above his station – awards geeks do not easily forget such infractions.

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Wes Anderson on being surprised every step of the way on 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Wes Anderson on being surprised every step of the way on 'Moonrise Kingdom'

He's in the thick of the awards race with perhaps his most personal film yet

One of the unlikely mainstays of the season, since its world premiere as the opening night presentation of the Cannes Film Festival in May, has been Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom." The filmmaker's (lucky) seventh feature has generated plenty of awards season love and critical approval, picking up Independent Spirit Award nominations, a Gotham Awards trophy and critics awards recognition, and it appears likely to bring him his second Oscar nomination to date as screenwriter.

On a brief call before being whisked away on a location scout, Anderson speaks of these kinds of things as a crap shoot. "You spend all this time working on the thing and you do your best and you have absolutely no idea how it's going to go over," he says. "I've had the experience of thinking, 'This one might really land with an audience,' and then suddenly 'x' number of days after it comes out we realize, 'Well, this is not going to happen this time.' I've had movies where it did really well in the limited release and you go from 75 screens to 300 and by Saturday morning you know, 'Well, that's the end of it for this one. This is about where this one's going to top out.' It's so much more fun to have a kind of good following for it. But it shouldn't really be the end-all. You better be doing it because you love the movie yourself or you're signing on for an extremely risky life."

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<p>&quot;Moonrise Kingdom&quot;</p>

"Moonrise Kingdom"

Credit: Focus Features

Roundup: Good and bad news for Desplat in the Oscar race

Also: R.I.P. Ravi Shankar, and why film culture lives on

Sorry for the late roundup today -- I was waylaid by SAG's dawn chorus. That's obviously the news on everyone's minds right now, but I'm going to rewind to an Oscar announcement I failed to mention yesterday: the official list of 104 films eligible for the Best Original Score award. Not a particularly newsworthy list and one I was initially going to skip -- except that, when searching for conspicuous omissions, one name came up... twice. Alexandre Desplat, one of the hardest workers in the game, may be a regular nominee these days, but he only went three-for-five with his 2012 slate -- and for my money, the two Desplat scores that missed the cut showcase his best work this year. "Moonrise Kingdom"'s interpolations of existing classical work doubtless cost it a place (furthering the case for a Best Adapted Score category), but I'm less sure why his moodily throbbing work on "Rust and Bone" isn't on the list. His Oscar hopes now rest with "Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Rise of the Guardians." [AMPAS]   

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<p>Nicole Kidman in &quot;The Paperboy&quot;</p>

Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy"

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Some SAG surprises indicate unexpected currents in the season

Is Nicole Kidman really in the hunt? Did Joaquin Phoenix take too much damage?

The awards-obsessive corners of the web were all abuzz this morning with murmurs of a supposed "leak" of the 19th annual SAG nominees. Intrepid net hounds had apparently gone into the guild's website and done some choice searching to turn out what ended up being, indeed, the full list of nominees. So what were they and what do they mean? Let's take a look.

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<p>Could Linda Cardellini be a surprise SAG nominee for &quot;Return?&quot;</p>

Could Linda Cardellini be a surprise SAG nominee for "Return?"

Credit: Focus World

Predicting the Screen Actors' Guild film nominees

Who do you expect to see nominated tomorrow?

A couple of you have asked for a space in which you can toss around your predictions for tomorrow's Screen Actors' Guild Award nominations, and we are nothing if not obliging. I've listed my own best guesses after the jump to get the ball rolling.

I'm not going to waste too much time analyzing the possibilities. I expect "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" to come out on top numbers-wise, while this will be an interesting place to see where seemingly on-the-bubble contenders like Bradley Cooper or Matthew McConaughey currently stand in the race.

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<p>Emma Watson in &quot;The Perks of Being a Wallflower.&quot;</p>

Emma Watson in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

'Argo' takes top honors from San Diego Film Critics, 'Perks' gets some love

Critics go their own way with awards for Michelle Williams and Emma Watson

Take that, Anne Thompson! (We kid because we love.) Many of you have noticed the growing presence of word-of-mouth favorite "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" on the precursor beat, and the tender teen drama scored a nifty coup from the San Diego Film Critics' Society today, taking Best Supporting Actress for Emma Watson, as well as the Best Ensemble award.

The "Perks" love is one of several ways in which the San Diego group, who announced their nominations yesterday, distinguished themselves from the herd. Their big winner, "Argo," took four awards including Best Picture and Director: you wouldn't have guessed it a few weeks ago when it was still the consensus Oscar frontrunner, but it's the film's first win in either category thus far.

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<p>Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo scored nods for &quot;Middle of Nowhere,&quot; but where is the film in the Best Picture field?</p>

Emayatzy Corinealdi and David Oyelowo scored nods for "Middle of Nowhere," but where is the film in the Best Picture field?

Credit: AAFRM

'Beasts,' 'Flight,' 'Django' lead NAACP Image Award nominees, 'Middle of Nowhere' sidelined

The only ceremony where you'll see Tyler Perry competing with Suraj Sharma

I must confess I don't really get the NAACP Image Awards. On the one hand, the idea of an awards show dedicated specifically to honoring non-white achievements in popular culture seems uncomfortably self-marginalizing in this day and age. On the other, the unhappy truth is that non-white artists and stories are still marginalized in Hollywood, so there's something to be said for a ceremony that celebrates the finest talent the community has to offer.

Why, then, does the NAACP routinely do such a poor job of recognizing that very talent for themselves? This year's list of Image nominees is led by three crossover features with substantial African-American leads (all, incidentally, from white filmmakers): "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained" and "Flight" nabbed four nominations each. Where, however, is "Middle of Nowhere?"

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<p>Young actress Isabelle Allen received one of 12 nominations for "Les Mis&eacute;rables."

Young actress Isabelle Allen received one of 12 nominations for "Les Misérables."

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Les Misérables' leads Phoenix critics' nods

'The Avengers' manages a Best Picture nomination

Another hour, another list of critics' award nominations.The Phoenix Film Critics Society is the latest group to toss their picks into the hat, and they've largely favored the Oscar-season favorites -- "Les Misérables" comfortably leads the way with 12 nominations. The Phoenix folk vote in more categories than most such groups, which is all well and good, though I'm not sure how well-equipped most critics are to judge the year's best stunt work. Novelties in the list include a Best Picture nod for "The Avengers" and, in a less populist vein, a mention for Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a Best Actress category that, oddly, only finds room for four names. Check out the full list after the jump, and at The Circuit.   

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: AP Photo/Jonathan Short

Adele's 'Skyfall,' Florence + the Machine's 'Breath of Life' among 75 original songs up for Oscar

And no 'Holy Motors' -- Booooo!

The Academy has announced that a whopping 75 tunes are in play for the Best Original Song Oscar this year, and among them were tracks by Adele, Florence + the Machine and The Arcade Fire. I imagine that makes the Oscarcast's producers very happy, that top ticket acts are in play, but they have to be nominated first, folks. So don't go carving out a spot in the show's rundown for these numbers just yet.

Also in play are other popular artists like Keith Urban, Karen O and Katy Perry. I'm personally hopeful that Ennio Morricone's beautiful track "Ancora Qui" gets into the category, and I have a hunch it might. But what a bummer that "Who We Were" from "Holy Motors" didn't make the cut. I have no idea why. Also, the Weinsteins' push for Willie Nelson's "Midnight Run" from "Lawless" bore no fruit, I see. Though The Bootleggers and Emmylou Harris's "Cosmonaut" did.

Check out the full list of qualifying contenders below. We'll have the Best Original Song Contenders page updated in due time. For now, what do you expect will be nominated from the category?

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<p>&quot;Lincoln&quot;&nbsp;broke the nominations record previously held by &quot;Black&nbsp;Swan.&quot;</p>

"Lincoln" broke the nominations record previously held by "Black Swan."

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

'Lincoln' leads nominations for the 18th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards

And the BFCA adds a slew of new categories this year, but why?

Not that this is something to be particularly proud of, but the Broadcast Film Critics Association has done its annual duty of distilling the Oscar race to what we think it is now (now, NOW!). There's nothing of passionate note in its overall picks, nothing of unique flavor. But as I have explained in the past, that's the result of a vaster group than these other, smaller 20- and 30-member critics groups. A bigger spread tends to yield consensus and, well, boring choices across the board.

The Academy can sometimes offer more refined selections throughout its many categories, focused on the work of peers, knowledgeable in it, even. But here you'll find what seems like auto-pilot selections, some of them even traceable to various publicity campaigns around this or that contender (nice work in the Best Song category, "Act of Valor" pushers). I don't claim them, though I certainly voted in them (full disclosure: I am a member). I don't see my identity here. Indeed, I don't see much of an identity at all.

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