<p>&quot;Argo&quot;&nbsp;producers Ben&nbsp;Affleck,&nbsp;Grant Heslov and George Clooney at the 70th annual Golden&nbsp;Globe Awards</p>

"Argo" producers Ben Affleck, Grant Heslov and George Clooney at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Off the Carpet: Why I want to see 'Argo' win Best Picture at the Oscars

Ben Affleck's sturdy drama still has an angle on this race

The last 100 hours or so in Hollywood has been intriguing, to say the least. The Oscar nominations on Thursday sent a series of shockwaves throughout the industry and were marvelously reflective of a tightly contended, stellar year of filmmaking. And of course, two names have been on everyone's lips since the Thursday morning bombshell: Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow.

First and foremost, I don't think it's an "embarrassment" that they were left off the list of Best Director nominees. That word has been thrown around a lot this weekend but I think it's a facile direction to go. Let's be honest. Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke, Benh Zeitlin and, though I don't like the film, David O. Russell (it is, after all, a genre rarely recognized, certainly for direction) is a strong, fascinating slate of nominees. And it would appear the two who scooted Affleck and Bigelow out of the mix were Haneke and Zeitlin. So let's look at that.

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<p>Ben&nbsp;Affleck at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards</p>

Ben Affleck at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards

Credit: AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater

Big moments for Bill Clinton, Jodie Foster and Ben Affleck at the 70th annual Golden Globes

'Argo' picks up another major prize en route to the Oscars

It was all smiles at the Warner Bros./In Style party Sunday night as team "Argo" had grabbed yet another one-two Best Picture/Best Director punch after the film's director Ben Affleck was unceremoniously snubbed from the Oscars' Best Director line-up late last week. The film is hitting rare air and hopes are high with the studio that they can still pull off some magic at the Academy Awards, despite the "stats.

For his part, Affleck felt vindicated. He confided that after Thursday morning he wondered how much people really liked the movie, if it was a sign of something. But after the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globes, he has an extra spring in his step. And as an observer, I love this moment for him. But I'll get into that more in a column tomorrow.

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<p>Jamie Foxx and Leonardo&nbsp;DiCaprio in &quot;Django Unchained&quot;</p>

Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Django Unchained"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Django' is Tarantino's biggest hit and 'Lincoln' crosses $150 mil as Best Picture nominees storm the box office this year

This is the story of the season

Kudos to The Weinstein Company this year for finding a fortunate release strategy in "Silver Linings Playbook" after bungling the release of "The Master" in September. It looks like it's going to work out. But I imagine most over there are happy as of late that "Django Unchained" is hitting as big as it is. Indeed, they needed this.

Not only that, but with this weekend's $11 million take, the film has become Quentin Tarantino's highest-grossing film to date. "Django" crossed the $125 million mark this weekend, besting the $120 million total "Inglourious Basterds" brought in 2009. It was down about 40% from last weekend with very little change in screen count and will likely percolate for a while longer.

Meanwhile, this is all part and parcel of the story of the year: Best Picture nominees have been box office hogs.

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<p>Jessica Chastain in&nbsp;&quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Kathryn Bigelow's embattled film goes wide this weekend

At this point, anyone who hasn't seen "Zero Dark Thirty" -- which is the majority of the movie-going public -- has had to hear it chewed on and mulled over for well over a month. Critics awards and controversy have shrouded the film upon delivery to a wider audience this weekend, and it's turned up #1 at the box office as a result. But how about some reactions? When/if you get around to the film, and indeed, if you already have, cut loose with your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

<p>&quot;Maggie Simpson in 'The&nbsp;Longest Daycare'&quot;</p>

"Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare'"

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Academy opens three more categories up to entire membership

Documentary Feature, Live Action Short and Animate Short will go out on screener

In years past, the Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Film (Animated) and Best Short Film (Live Action) categories have been decided by the limited amount of members who could make it to the screenings of the films and therefore prove they viewed them before voting. This has always made predicting the results of those categories a little interesting, given the assumed "typical" sort of member who would have the time to participate. Things are changing this year, though.

In an email AMPAS president Hawk Koch sent out to Academy members, he notes that, "For the first time this year, our entire membership will be able to vote in three additional categories. The Academy will be sending you DVD screeners of the nominated films from these three categories before final voting begins." However, he added, "We look forward to seeing you at our screenings of the nominated films, which will begin on January 19 in Los Angeles, New York, London and San Francisco." So obviously a theatrical look is still preferred.

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<p>Uma Thurman in &quot;Pulp Fiction.&quot;</p>

Uma Thurman in "Pulp Fiction."

Credit: Miramax Films

Haneke's 'Amour' joins exclusive club of Palme d'Or winners turned Best Picture nominees

The film joins 15 others to have transitioned from the Croisette to Oscar

As well as being gratifying in and of itself, Thursday's Best Picture Oscar nomination for Michael Haneke's "Amour" is immensely pleasing to Oscar stat geeks, who can count up the many ways in which it breaks form in the top category: the first foreign-language nominee since 2006's "Letters from Iwo Jima," the first non-US foreign-language nominee since 2000's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the first French-language nominee since 1969's "Z," only the ninth foreign-language nominee overall, etc, etc.

But the stat we've picked up on today relates back to the start of its awards journey, where it won arguably the loftiest film award of all: the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It scarcely needs to be stated that Cannes and the Oscars occupy very different worlds, so their respective favorites rarely overlap -- but "Amour" now becomes only the 16th Palme d'Or winner to convert that prestige into a Best Picture nomination. (Okay, not strictly, given that a few films on the list actually went to Cannes after Oscar night, but the overlap is the point.)

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<p>Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke (center)&nbsp;and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of &quot;Amour&quot;</p>

Emmanuelle Riva, Michael Haneke (center) and Jean-Louis Trintignant on the set of "Amour"

Credit: Sony Classics

Nine double-dipping Oscar nominees have multiple shots on goal this year

And George Clooney broke a record, by the way

Another year, another set of Oscar nominees. And while all are lucky to be in the mix, some are twice as lucky. There are always a few double dippers each year, individuals recognized in multiple categories or, sometimes, twice in the same category. So who's in the club this time around?

Let's start with "Amour" director Michael Haneke, because you could actually make a case for him being a triple nominee this year. He was recognized individually in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories, but he will also be the one to accept the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film should "Amour" wind up victorious there. Alas, the nomination "officially" goes to the film's country of origin, Austria in this case, but the fact is Haneke is in a position to walk away with three trophies next month. No one else can say that this year.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 102 -- Oscar nominations and the BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Oscar Talk: Ep. 102 -- Oscar nominations and the BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards

First blush predicts on what will win as well

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>Mark&nbsp;Wahlberg in &quot;Ted&quot;</p>

Mark Wahlberg in "Ted"

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Skyfall,' 'Best Exotic,' 'Ted' join the usual in ACE Eddie nominations

All but 'Django Unchained' and 'The Master' accounted for

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) decided there was no rush and chose to hold its announcement for nominations honoring excellence in filmmaking until after the Oscar nominations landed. This despite being ready to announce on Tuesday. I applaud them for that. Just because the Academy says "jump" doesn't mean you have to.

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<p>&quot;Lincoln&quot;</p>

"Lincoln"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Roundup: The thinking man's Oscar crop?

Also: Ebert weighs in, and what to expect when you're expecting Seth MacFarlane

The Oscarweb today is mainly awash with responses to yesterday's Academy Award nominations, and little news besides, so let's lead with the most articulate of them. A.O. Scott, for one, is pretty thrilled with the list, seeing this year's Oscar class as an encouraging indication that there's still a place in the industry for entertaining, stimulating mainstream cinema for adults: "You may also notice a lot of big-studio releases without a superhero in sight. And, perhaps most remarkably, you will find movies that have already sparked passionate arguments and sold a lot of tickets. It would be hard to say the same about the last two best picture winners, 'The Artist' and 'The King’s Speech' ... What strikes me about this year’s Oscar nominees is how many of them invite, or even force, their viewers to think, and making thinking part of the pleasure they offer." Do you think this year's lineup represents an improvement on recent years?  [New York Times]

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