<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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<p>Roger Deakins (right)&nbsp;and camera assistant Andy&nbsp;Harris on location in Glencoe,&nbsp;Scotland.</p>

Roger Deakins (right) and camera assistant Andy Harris on location in Glencoe, Scotland.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tech Support Interview: Roger Deakins on 'Skyfall,' going digital and not looking back

Could he break that 0-9 streak at the Oscars with some of his best work yet?

For a producer of such lush and exquisite work, cinematographer Roger Deakins is often a man of select words. Thoughtful, yes, but never of a mind to over-think it.

Responsible for some of the most stunning images on film in our age -- "Kundun," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," to barely scratch the surface -- he shook the landscape of his field a bit two years ago when he went digital for Andrew Niccol's "In Time." And this year he's back in the form with "Skyfall," the first James Bond installment to eschew celluloid for the progression of digital filmmaking.

"Right now I don’t see a reason to go back and shoot film," Deakins says. "And probably if I leave it much longer then I won’t have the opportunity, because it just won’t exist anyway."

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<p>Denzel Washington in &quot;Flight.&quot;</p>

Denzel Washington in "Flight."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Roundup: 'Ralph' rules box office, but 'Flight' takes off

Also: Haneke speaks reluctantly, and 'Wreck-It Ralph' for Best Pic?

The box-office headlines from the weekend have understandably been dominated by "Wreck-It Ralph," whose healthy opening gross (the highest ever for a Disney animated effort) helps its chances in a crowded Oscar race. But the runner-up on the chart, "Flight," made no less noteworthy a debut, taking just over $25m, despite a relatively modest release in 1884 theaters. That puts it roughly on pace with the last Denzel Washington starrer "Safe House," which took $40m from a wider release, though "Flight" has considerably more room to build. It's also considerably outpaced the $13m gross box office pundits predicted for the film, and nearly recouped its tidy $31m budget. Paramount distribution head Don Harris reckons the film's adult target market will be more in the mood for going to the movies once the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy are behind them. [Reuters]

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<p>Elle Fanning in &quot;Ginger &amp; Rosa.&quot;</p>

Elle Fanning in "Ginger & Rosa."

Credit: A24

'Best Exotic,' 'The Imposter' among British Independent Film Award nominees

Elle Fanning, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench nab acting nods

Last year, the British Independent Film Awards -- the UK industry's answer to the Spirit Awards, though the chasm between independent and studio product here is a narrower one -- made the most of a banner year for British cinema, with citations aplenty for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Shame," "Tyrannosaur," "Weekend," "Kill List" and the like.

2012 has been a bit less bountiful, and that's reflected in a slate of BIFA nods that reads a tad repetitively, with a small handful of films dominating the list. "Broken," a debut feature from acclaimed theater director Rufus Norris that was rather indifferently received at Cannes in the spring, leads the field with eight nominations, while "Berberian Sound Studio," "Sightseers" and "The Imposter" are close behind with seven apiece. Lest that field strike some as a little too niche, meanwhile, crossover smash "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" holds up the more mainstream end of the independent spectrum, nabbing five nominations, including Best Film -- a showing that bodes well for its BAFTA chances in a few months' time.

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<p>&quot;Paperman&quot;</p>

"Paperman"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Disney's 'Paperman': an early favorite for the Best Animated Short Oscar?

The romantic ditty plays before 'Wreck-It Ralph'

The truth is something on the fringe is likely to win the Best Animated Short Oscar this year. "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" over "La Luna," "The Lost Thing" over "Day & Night," "Logorama" over "A Matter of Loaf and Death," "The Danish Poet" over "The Little Matchgirl" -- it happens. A lot.

That having been said, Disney's "Paperman," a delicate little love story that's greeting viewers of "Wreck-It Ralph" this weekend, is generating plenty of love and goodwill. It's a blend of hand-drawn 2D animation and 3D CG artwork. "The characters are modeled in CG and rendered in high contrast to create the modeling and shading, then merged with hand-drawn linework using a proprietary software program called Meander to create the final result," Jim MacQuarrie explains in a Wired piece, which also features an interview with the film's producer, Kristina Reed. "It looks like traditional 'classic' animation but with a sense of solidity and volume that’s more common to CG films." So maybe there's enough technical meat on its bones to grab the branch's collective brain in addition to its heart.

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