Contender Countdown: The tough Best Picture call between 'Boyhood' and 'Birdman'

Contender Countdown: The tough Best Picture call between 'Boyhood' and 'Birdman'

Can 'American Sniper' surprise?

Well, we've got another barn burner on our hands people. Final voting for the 87th Academy Awards is well underway and this year's Best Picture race is far from settled. Or is it? Excuse me, feeling deja vu. I believe we went through something similar to this last year.

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'Birdman,' 'Gone Girl' win Final Draft Screenwriters' Choice Awards

'Birdman,' 'Gone Girl' win Final Draft Screenwriters' Choice Awards

'True Detective' and 'Big Bang Theory' win in the TV categories

Winners have been unveiled for the 2015 Final Draft Screenwriters' Choice Awards (basically voted on by anyone who — legally — owns Final Draft screenwriting software). "Birdman" and "Gone Girl" came out on top in the film categories, while "True Detective" and "The Big Bang Theory" were the TV winners.

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Alexandre Desplat on winning a Grammy and the lesson of masters like John Williams
Credit: AP Photo

Alexandre Desplat on winning a Grammy and the lesson of masters like John Williams

He's a double Oscar nominee this year for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'The Imitation Game'

Nine Oscar seasons ago, composer Alexandre Desplat earned what already felt like an overdue first nomination for "The Queen." (He already had "Girl With a Pearl Earring," "Birth," "Syriana" and "The Painted Veil" to his credit.) Eight years and as many Oscar nominations later, the prolific Desplat has cemented himself as the go-to composer of his generation, with the hottest producers and directors clamoring to collaborate with him.

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Exclusive: Dig a little deeper into 'Birdman' with the Oscars on the horizon

Exclusive: Dig a little deeper into 'Birdman' with the Oscars on the horizon

Will it pull off the Best Picture win in 10 days? We'll know soon enough...

I wrote on Twitter yesterday that, at least in my observation, a number of "Birdman" critics seem to miss the fact that the film is inherently about confronting the very narcissism they often accuse it and director Alejandro González Iñárritu of having. That led to a back and forth with someone about the idea that meta movies sometimes cast so large a thematic net that "that's the point" becomes a retort to any criticism. And that's a fair enough complaint, though I don't think it really applies to "Birdman."

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2015 Oscars presenters: Kevin Hart, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pratt
Credit: AP Photo

2015 Oscars presenters: Kevin Hart, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pratt

Last year's acting class will return as well

It's all happening. Oscars preparations, that is. The set is being finalized, the producers are bound and determined to turn it into the Grammys or the Tonys, hopeful nominees are polishing their speeches and talent is being tapped to make an appearance on the show to present awards and special moments.

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'SNL' documentary 'Live from New York!' to open 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

'SNL' documentary 'Live from New York!' to open 2015 Tribeca Film Festival

World premiere set for April 15

The world premiere of "Live From New York!," Bao Nguyen's documentary exploring 40 years of American politics, tragedy and popular culture through the comedic lens of the television institution, will open the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday, April 15.

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Throwback Thursday: Before they were Oscar nominees

Throwback Thursday: Before they were Oscar nominees

Looking at the early work of this year's acting class

We're just 10 days away from the 87th annual Academy Awards, where this year's 20 nominated actors will dress to the nines, head to the Dolby Theater and cross their fingers that the outcome of their categories aren't as inevitable as they seem (well…16 of them will be doing that, anyway). But before they found themselves on the roller coaster that is a film awards season, how did they cut their teeth? What foundations did they lay to get here? Who were they before they were nominees?

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Dear Neil Patrick Harris: Listen to these Oscar Show suggestions before its too late

Dear Neil Patrick Harris: Listen to these Oscar Show suggestions before its too late

How about fewer musical numbers...oh, wait...crap

Dear Neil,

It's a little over a week away from your debut as the host of Hollywood's biggest night so chances are this correspondence will simply arrive a little too late. 

The Academy Awards telecast is a monstrosity to put on and takes months to plan. In fact, the show's overall creative direction has usually been decided long before the Oscar nominations are even announced. And frankly, we're worried. The announcements from the Academy so far have made us wonder if your producers are intent on turning this into the biggest song and dance Academy Awards ever. So, better late than never to pass along some unsolicited advice, right?

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LAIKA to auction 'Coraline,' 'ParaNorman' and 'Boxtrolls' puppets and more

LAIKA to auction 'Coraline,' 'ParaNorman' and 'Boxtrolls' puppets and more

A portion of proceeds to go to charity

LAIKA, the Portland-based animation studio behind Oscar-nominated films like "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "The Boxtrolls," has opened its archives for the first time ever for a limited auction of over 250 puppets, models, props and art. "The Art of LAIKA" will be held by Heritage Auctions on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 in Beverly Hills.

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'Winter Soldier' vfx artist Dan DeLeeuw: On Helicarriers and his 'game changer' Hayley Atwell effect
Credit: Marvel Studios

'Winter Soldier' vfx artist Dan DeLeeuw: On Helicarriers and his 'game changer' Hayley Atwell effect

'It was a great marriage of stunts and visual effects'

Call "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" Marvel's attempt at a "grounded" political thriller. With, you know, tons and tons of special effects.

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