<p>Daniel Craig at the BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards on Wednesday.</p>

Daniel Craig at the BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards on Wednesday.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Day-Lewis, Craig, Tarantino honored at Britannia Awards

The BAFTA/LA event will be broadcast on Sunday

With Alan Cumming hosting, Matt Stone and Trey Parker on the winners list and Daniel Day-Lewis taking the stage with an Eastwooding routine, BAFTA/LA's Britannia Awards sound considerably more fun than their parent organization's February ceremony across the pond. Then again, that's often the case with awards shows the general public doesn't really know about -- though they'll have a chance to see for themselves when the ceremony is broadcast this Sunday on BBC America.

The Britannia Awards, which have been held by the British Academy's Los Angeles outcrop since 1989, aren't a competitive ceremony, but rather a celebration of a selected handful of individuals -- usually mostly British, though not this year -- deemed to have enriched the medium. It's not an award tied to specific films, though they often alight on artists who already have a clear presence in the awards season.

Read Full Post
<p>Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in &quot;A Royal Affair,&quot; Denmark's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar</p>

Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen in "A Royal Affair," Denmark's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Roundup: Oscar hopeful 'A Royal Affair' wins big at AFI Fest

Also: THR's actors' roundtable, and Virginia loves 'Lincoln'

The AFI Fest closed last night with the "world premiere" (even if the NYFF let the cat out of the bag weeks ago) of "Lincoln," but not before handing out some awards. And the big winner was... well, Scandinavia. Swedish immigrant drama "Eat Sleep Die" took the Grand Jury Prize, and the superb Danish thriller "A Hijacking" (see my Variety review) took the Audience Award in the New Auteurs section, but the big winner from an Oscar perspective was Denmark's foreign-language submission "A Royal Affair," which underlined its serious contender status by taking the World Cinema Audience Award. Not many were paying attention when it won two prizes at Berlin in February, but this smart historical romance has grown in stature ever since. It wasn't the only foreign Oscar hopeful to take a gong: Kenya's first-ever entry, "Nairobi Half Life" was also rewarded. [AFI Fest

Read Full Post
<p>Amanda Seyfried in &quot;Les Miserables&quot;</p>

Amanda Seyfried in "Les Miserables"

Credit: Universal Pictures

New 'Les Miserables' trailer gets it primed for an Oscar push

Will it go the way of 'Chicago' or 'Nine' this season?

The sounds you hear are the competitors jockeying for position. "Argo" is the frontrunner. There's no other way to put it. And it will still be the frontrunner when "Silver Linings Playbook" hits theaters just around the corner. After that, "Life of Pi" will put up a big fight upon release, while "Lincoln," landing tomorrow, will be in the thick of it, too.

But as I said a few months back, I can't help but feel that, barring the film being a sudden commercial and/or critical bomb, Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" is going to be the one to watch in the Best Picture race. It's been seen. It's not some great mystery anymore. And the campaign is gearing up with the first major screenings set to take place immediately after Thanksgiving.

Read Full Post
Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. Could he be back in "Django Unchained?"
Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. Could he be back in "Django Unchained?"
Credit: The Weinstein Company

As Waltz goes lead, might we want to keep an eye on Samuel L. Jackson in 'Django Unchained?'

A source says the actor nails his best role in a long while

The acting races are in full sprint at this point. Everyone concedes the Best Actor race is stuffed to the gills, only more so with consistent additions. The lead actress category began to look a bit fuller when Helen Mirren's name was thrown into the ring and, as Guy pointed out yesterday, features plenty of performances for Academy members looking to venture even the least bit out of their comfort zones.

One actress recently added to that flock is Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty," which will screen for press at the end of the month. And another added to the boys' club is Christoph Waltz in "Django Unchained," as reported earlier today. Many who have read the script (probably the most widely read awards season hopeful before the fact ever) had noted that Waltz felt like more of a co-lead in the piece. But the way I hear it, as good as Waltz may be in the film, this all likely clears some room in the supporting ranks for a pair of actors poised to strike.

Read Full Post
<p>Christoph Waltz as he appears in &quot;Django Unchained.&quot;</p>

Christoph Waltz as he appears in "Django Unchained."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Christoph Waltz elevated to the Best Actor race for 'Django Unchained'

He'll compete with co-star Jamie Foxx for a spot in a crowded race

The Best Actor field is already sufficiently crowded -- with a couple of nominees seemingly glued in place -- that you wouldn't envy any newcomer to the race. Yet The Weinstein Company, which is hardly short of a serious contender in the category, is reportedly sufficiently high on Christoph Waltz in the still-unseen "Django Unchained" to campaign him in the lead category.

Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil quotes an unspecified "insider" as saying Waltz's performance as a dentist-cum-bounty-hunter, who joins Jamie Foxx's title character in a rescue mission, "towers over the whole movie." That's the kind of claim many had assumed would be made for Leonardo DiCaprio's villainous supporting turn. Is Waltz really the film's MVP -- just as he was, to Oscar-winning effect, in Quentin Tarantino's last effort -- or is he being elevated to declutter DiCaprio's Best Supporting Actor campaign?  

Read Full Post
<p>Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck in "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: 'Argo,' 'Les Mis' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' feature in the race for Best Film Editing

Other contenders include 'Life of Pi,' 'Skyfall' and 'Flight'

“CUT!”

This word is iconic in popular culture as something the director shouts to end the shooting of a scene. It even featured prominently in last year’s Best Picture winner.

But it's the film editors who truly "cut" our films down to what we actually see on screen. Deciding what leave in, what to leave out, how to convey the narrative and how to establish pace are just a few of the editor’s extraordinarily important roles.

The work of many other crafts artists, to say nothing of the actors, is finished when the shoot is done. Others, such as the composer, only begin when the shoot is over. The film editor, on the other hand, is there throughout, working with the director until the film is just right.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Kon-Tiki&quot; is Norway's foreign Oscar submission.</p>

"Kon-Tiki" is Norway's foreign Oscar submission.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: The Weinsteins nab another Oscar prospect in 'Kon-Tiki'

Also: The sound of 'Flight,' and the movies that made 'Argo'

From sketchy beginnings, The Weinstein Company has grown into a major Oscar player, ruling even the documentary race last year -- but one category they have yet to score in, unlike back in their Miramax days, is Best Foreign Language Film. This year, they're looking to change that with French crossover smash "The Intouchables," but they've also just extended their stake in the race by nabbing Norway's submission, "Kon-Tiki." I'll be seeing it myself soon, but even when its selection was announced, I figured this factual tale of explorer Thor Heyerdahl's 1947 expedition from South America to Polynesia on a wooden raft -- the most expensive film in Norwegian history -- would be something that could appeal to the Academy. The Weinsteins' attachment now confirms it as one to watch. True-life of Pi, anyone? [Variety]  

Read Full Post
<p>Marion Cotillard in &quot;Rust and Bone.&quot;</p>

Marion Cotillard in "Rust and Bone."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

The Long Shot: Independent women

The Best Actress race is only as weak as voters choose to make it

Earlier this week, I saw “Amour” for the second time, far removed from the hustle and fatigue of Cannes. My thoughts on the film settled on a return visit (and they'll be gathered soon in an overdue review), but this was one of them: if Emmanuelle Riva doesn't get a Best Actress nomination for her work here, the Academy's entire acting branch may as well turn in their cards. 

It's not just that her performance as a refined, intelligent music teacher descending rapidly into undignified, inarticulate dementia after a sudden stroke is a marvel of thespian technique as well as emotional intuition. It's that it's the kind of showcase performance, with its self-evident degree of difficulty and devastating audience connection, that most Academy voters wouldn't hesitate to recognize if it came from within their ranks: if “Amour” were an equivalently acclaimed US indie and a revered veteran like, say, Gena Rowlands were in Riva's place, I'd wager the Best Actress race might already be over. 

Read Full Post
<p>Ken Burns</p>

Ken Burns

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Interview: Ken Burns on 'The Central Park Five' and the thriving state of documentary filmmaking

The proud father got to collaborate with his daughter on her biggest passion

Legendary documentarian Ken Burns wants to make sure the spotlight isn't too focused on him this time around. The fact is, the story of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana Jr. and Kharey Wise -- the "Central Park Five," as they have come to be known -- had galvanized his daughter, Sarah, while she was in college. It was her passion, through school studies and a published book that spawned the film in the first place. The two serve as co-directors on the new film "The Central Park Five" along with Sarah's husband, David McMahon.

Read Full Post
<p>Martin Freeman in &quot;The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.&quot;</p>

Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: Low screen count for high frame rate in 'The Hobbit'

Also: Hollywood under Obama, and 'Skyfall' still storming Britain

Not much news out there that isn't focused on the vastly gratifying result of yesterday's election: well done, America. But to switch gears to movie matters, are you among those totally psyched for the new frame-rate technology set to be showcased in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey?" Hard luck if you are, since it's been announced that just 450 theaters across the US will be screening the film in the 48-frames-per-second format -- a little over one-tenth of the likely screen count. Hardly a surprising turn of events after the largely tepid response to the 48fps footage screened at Comic-Con: while some advocates claimed to be seeing the future of cinema, many others found the future of cinema looked too much like hi-def TV for their liking. Will you be seeking it out in the new format? [LA Times

Read Full Post