<p>&quot;Searching for Sugar Man&quot;</p>

"Searching for Sugar Man"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'Searching for Sugar Man' tops 2012 IDA Awards

A big feather in the Oscar frontrunner's cap

Perceived Oscar frontrunner "Searching for Sugar Man" took top honors at the International Documentary Association Awards this evening. The portrait of long-"lost" recording artist Rodriguez also won Best Music. "How to Survive a Plague" director David France won an award for emerging talent while last year's Oscar winner for Best Documentary Short, "Saving Face," won in the shorts category. Check out a full list of winners below.

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<p>&quot;Anna&nbsp;Karenina&quot;</p>

"Anna Karenina"

Credit: Focus Features

Tech Support: Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer on a 'risky' world in 'Anna Karenina'

The production designer and set decorator are Oscar frontrunners

Is all the world a stage? Well, in Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” the stage became the medium through which the director retold Leo Tolstoy’s classic story. An unusual choice fraught with risks? To be sure. An extraordinary amount of potential? Equally certain. But production designer Sarah Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer were tasked with helping Wright’s vision come to fruition. We recently spoke to the duo about their work on the film.

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 98 -- Chewing on NYFCC, NBR and 'The Hobbit'

Oscar Talk: Ep. 98 -- Chewing on NYFCC, NBR and 'The Hobbit'

Also: The doc shortlist and recapping the Governors Awards

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>Ana Moreira in &quot;Tabu.&quot;</p>

Ana Moreira in "Tabu."

Credit: Adopt Films

Beautiful US trailer for critics' darling 'Tabu'

Adopt Films begin rolling out the Portuguese marvel on December 26

With Top 10 season upon us, I'm slowly beginning to whittle down a year's worth of viewing into some sort of order. And while I have a lot to see before I can actually finalize my list -- my screening diary for the next week is a veritable pileup of supposed awards fare, nearly as dense as a festival schedule -- I'll need to see an improbable amount of four-star films between then and now for "Tabu" not to land in its upper reaches.

Since the Berlinale 10 months ago, you've heard me badgering on about Portuguese director Miguel Gomes's semi-silent wonder -- part postmodern comedy, part rapturous colonial-era love story -- with a range of artistic reference points that ranges from F.W. Murnau to Phil Spector. I'm far from alone in my enthusiasm: it landed at #2 on Sight & Sound's Best of 2012 critics' poll last weekend. It hits US screens in a few weeks, but I only recently latched onto this US trailer from Adopt Films (in which, I'm chuffed to say, I'm one of the critics quoted.)

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<p>Matthew McConaughey in &quot;Magic Mike.&quot;</p>

Matthew McConaughey in "Magic Mike."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: Soderbergh's plea for 'bananas' McConaughey, and other campaign oddities

Also: Critics split on 'Les Mis,' and stage elite pick their film directors of 2012

Today's most enjoyable Oscar-related feature comes from Steve Pond, who has rounded up a selection of the more notable and/or quirky campaign maneuvers from the season thus far, from curious merchandise (a "Lincoln" cookbook, haggis crisps for "Brave") to an Academy rule violation by shortlisted doc "The Invisible War." My favorite, though, is a typewritten letter to BFCA voters from the campaign-averse Steven Soderbergh on behalf of Matthew McConaughey: "I'm breaking my longstanding embargo regarding pleas for recognition... we found [his performance] to be completely bananas in the best sense of the word. As he says in the film, 'The moon is just a chip shot away!'" Now one for for Channing Tatum, please. [The Wrap]  

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<p>The gang was all there at the New York premiere of &quot;The Hobbit:&nbsp;An&nbsp;Unexpected Journey&quot;</p>

The gang was all there at the New York premiere of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman talk forging a new path for 'The Hobbit' at New York premiere

Are you ready for three more years?

NEW YORK -- Warner Bros. spared no expense tonight ringing in the arrival of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with a New York premiere and an ornate after-party at Guastavino's on the east side. The space's "soaring granite arches and catalan vaulted tiled ceiling," to steal from its own PR, served as a perfect palette for Middle Earth-inspired wares. Wooden tables decked with candelabras and other similar decor offered a comfortable dose of Hobbiton as Jackson, stars Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Ian McKellen, "Argo" director Ben Affleck, actors Patrick Stewart, Elijah Wood, Liv Tyler and many more filled the room to capacity.

The toast, of course, is to Jackson's accomplishment, the first in a new, sure-to-be-expansive trilogy of films adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's intro to "The Lord of the Rings." And hopes are rightly high that the film will land just right with fanbases both old and new to send this one soaring at the box office. But while the film's aesthetic and feel certainly hearkens back to the franchise Jackson launched in the early aughts, there were attempts at mining a new identity, and much of that was inherent in the enterprise.

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<p>&quot;Argo&quot; will receive the Ensemble Performance Award at the Palm Springs fest.</p>

"Argo" will receive the Ensemble Performance Award at the Palm Springs fest.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Palm Springs fest to honor 'Argo' ensemble and Sally Field

Could Ben Affleck's thriller regain its autumn buzz?

The Palm Springs Film Festival, which takes place next month, has been gradually spilling their list of honorees over the last few weeks, with Naomi Watts, Helen Hunt and Robert Zemeckis all booked in to be celebrated for their achievements this year. Though I was only yesterday discussing the individual value of smaller awards, naming Zemeckis their Director of the Year is about as far as the festival strays from the Oscar conversation with their picks -- every year, the timing of Palm Springs makes it a handy stop on the campaign trail for awards hopefuls.

That'll certainly be the case for the festival's latest two selections: "Argo" will receive the Ensemble Performance Award, while Sally Field, currently riding high in the Best Supporting Actress race for "Lincoln," is to be honored with a Career Achievement Award. Both will be presented at the festival's awards ceremony on January 5 -- days before the Oscar nominations are announced, presumably with good news for Field and "Argo" alike.

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<p>Daniel Craig in &quot;Skyfall.&quot;</p>

Daniel Craig in "Skyfall."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Roundup: Bond rules Britannia

Also: The Grammys' movie music picks, and 'Lincoln''s date with the Senate

It may currently be sitting at #6 in the US box-office chart for 2012, but impressive as that is, "Skyfall" is a phenomenon on a different scale across the pond. In its sixth week of release in the UK, James Bond's latest outing has surpassed "Avatar" to become the highest-grossing film in British box-office history with a total of nearly $152 million. (Yes, we are a smaller country.) As well as being the best possible golden-anniversary gift for the franchise, it's also likely to be labelled a major victory for comparatively old-school, adult-oriented commercial cinema that doesn't even boast 3D premiums to jack up the numbers. The question from an awards standpoint now is whether BAFTA will dare ignore it in the top categories. Daniel Craig got nominated in 2006, so could  007 be in line for its first Best Film nod? [The Independent

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<p>Rachel Weisz in &quot;The Deep Blue Sea.&quot;</p>

Rachel Weisz in "The Deep Blue Sea."

Credit: Music Box Films

The Long Shot: It's an award, not a precursor

Critics' choices remind us their awards are more than a means to an Oscar

It's getting harder to identify an official kick-off point for the precursor run – is it the Gotham Awards? The Independent Spirit nominations? Such-and-such magazine's Top 10 list? But whether it began days or weeks ago, we are already in the thick of it: by Friday, two of the Big Three critics' groups will have showed their hand, while the picks of the not-quite-critics' group that is the National Board of Review are still on the cooling rack. 

Next week: SAG, Globes, the BFCA Awards, sundry small critics' groups... you know what, I can't think about next week for now. I still have a truckload of movies to see, for starters, and my own critics' group voting deadline is just nine days away. My family may just have to settle for opened screener discs as Christmas gifts this year. If I find time, I'll wrap them. 

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

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

National Board of Review names Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty' Best Picture

Bigelow took Best Director while Jessica Chastain was named Best Actress

"Zero Dark Thirty" was crowned the best film of 2012 by the New York-based National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Kathryn Bigelow took the Best Director prize for her work on the film, while Jessica Chastain won Best Actress. Bradley Cooper was named Best Actor for his performance in "Silver Linings Playbook" while David O. Russell's film also picked up Best Adapted Screenplay.

The award is the second in a row at the start of the precursor circuit for Bigelow's account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden following the New York Film Critics Circle's crowning of the achievement on Monday. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association will speak up on Friday and may well join the club, which will lead many to chalk it up as the prohibitive frontrunner for Best Picture at the Oscars, if they aren't already. But films like "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Social Network" know it's not smart to count your chickens before they hatch.

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