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.

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<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?  

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<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.

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<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]  

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<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. 

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<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.

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<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

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<p>Jonathan&nbsp;Demme at the 2012 Venice Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

Jonathan Demme at the 2012 Venice Film Festival

Credit: AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis

Jonathan Demme to receive Cinema Audio Society's Filmmaker Award

Frequent collaborator Chris Newman will receive Career Ahievement award

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme has been tapped by the Cinema Audio Society for special recognition this year. The helmer of such films as "The Silence of the Lambs," "Philadelphia" and "The Manchurian Candidate" remake will receive the organization's Filmmaker Award at the 49th annual celebration.

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<p>The cast of &quot;The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.&quot;</p>

The cast of "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Is 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' one to watch for the Brit vote?

Yesterday's BIFA haul bodes well for multiple BAFTA nods

Beyond the smallish circle of UK-based critics and industry folk, yesterday's British Independent Film Awards didn't attract much attention -- which is hardly surprising, given what a quiet year it's been for British film. Heavily-nominated titles like "Berberian Sound Studio" and "Sightseers," excellent as they are, aren't of much interest to awards-watchers with an eye only on Oscar possibilities -- of which the BIFA list presented very few.

Crossover nominee "The Imposter" is certainly one to watch in the documentary Oscar race, especially given the new voting system's emphasis on higher-profile theatrical releases. But the nominee we seem likeliest to hear more of in major categories through the rest of season is also the one that took BIFA observers most by surprise: John Madden's "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." 

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Reese Witherspoon in "Election."
Reese Witherspoon in "Election."
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Roundup: Hollywood's stake in the election

Also: Budweiser wants out of 'Flight,' and the many film faces of Lincoln

Well, given what's going on out there, it'd seem inappropriate to lead with news of some minor precursor award announcement or random pre-release bumf for "The Hobbit" -- it's Election Day, and that weighs as heavily on Hollywood's mind as anyone else's. Variety Ted Johnson breaks down the implications for the film and entertainment industry of an Obama or a Romney victory, which could have a significant impact on issues ranging from piracy to censorship to same-sex marriage, and also examines the California propositions, some of them with starry cheerleaders, pertinent to showbiz folk. Good luck, America. Do the right thing. [Variety

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