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

Daniel Craig in "Skyfall."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Satellite Award noms run the gamut from 'Silver Linings Playbook' to 'Skyfall'

'Les Mis' leads with 10 nods, but misses out in directing and writing races

Amid today's mad rush of awards activity, we almost forgot to mention the Satellite Award nominations. I confess I've never been sure entirely sure what these awards represent -- they're voted for by a group called the International Press Academy, but my knowledge ends there -- but they've been cheerfully going their own way for 17 years now, annually coming up with one of the season's more entertaining, eclectic nomination lists.

This year is no exception. Amid the predictable spread of mentions for the likes of "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" -- "Les Mis" leads with 10 nods, though director Tom Hooper was left out -- are wildcard Best Picture nods for "Skyfall" and "The Sessions." More interesting still are crossover nominations for some pretty out-there foreign fare.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

A scene from "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tech Support: Greig Fraser on shooting the dead of night in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Freshly awarded by the NYFCC, the DP discusses the 'guerrilla' feel of the production

One of the callbacks critics are noting vis a vis Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" is Alan J. Pakula's 1976 political thriller "All the President's Men." Both films detail the minutiae of following a process to an end and how that end impacts the psyche of a nation, never shying away from inherent narrative bogging, unfussy in their visual vocabulary. It's no surprise, then, that cinematographer Greig Fraser, who shot "Zero Dark Thirty" for Bigelow, finds such minutiae fascinating.

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<p>&quot;How to Survive a Plague&quot;</p>

"How to Survive a Plague"

Credit: Sundance Selects

'Central Park Five,' 'Queen of Versailles,' 'West of Memphis' shafted by Academy's doc branch

15 titles proceed in a competitive year for the category

More good timing as the Academy has announced its shortlist of 15 advancing titles in the Best Documentary Feature race after Anne and I discussed the field at length on the podcast Friday. And it naturally figures that most of the films we talked about were not passed through.

The biggest omission to my eyes is "The Queen of Versailles," one of the best films of the year -- doc or narrative -- period. Maybe they didn't like that filmmaker Lauren Greenfield lucked into her story, but that film is of the moment and vital as all hell. Alas, this is to be expected. Great stuff is so often skipped over, and it appears the new rules and regs did little to alter that course.

Also left off the list: "West of Memphis," which is just a travesty. I get worked up every year on this shortlist and I'll try not to now, but Amy Berg's film is a monument. Ditto "The Central Park Five," which just won the New York Film Critics Circle prize for non-fiction film this morning and now has to deal with this.

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<p>&quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;&nbsp;director Kathryn&nbsp;Bigelow</p>

"Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Zero Dark Thirty' wins Best Picture and Best Director from New York Film Critics Circle

'Lincoln' wins three prizes, for Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay

Last year, the New York Film Critics' Circle rather set the pace for the season by handing their two top awards to “The Artist.” (They also set eventual Best Actress Oscar winner Meryl Streep on her way.) This year, however, they're more likely to mix the conversation up in a few crucial areas. Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor got a fresh injection in lieu of frontrunner rallying, while the group's selection of Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" in the Best Picture and Best Director categories puts it at the top of the Oscar heap.

Check out the full list of winners below and remember to keep track of all the goings on throughout the season at The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;Wreck-It Ralph&quot;</p>

"Wreck-It Ralph"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

'Brave,' 'Guardians' and 'Wreck-It Ralph' lead 40th annual Annie Awards nominees

'Hotel Transylvania' and 'ParaNorman' not too far behind

The nominations for the 40th annual Annie Awards were announced today, and Disney had to be all smiles with 27 nominations across four feature films in play. And it was "Brave" and "Wreck-It Ralph" from that stable that led the pack, along with DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians," with 10 nominations apiece.

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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

Off the Carpet: The critics close ranks

With NYFCC, LAFCA and more on the way, what films will get a boost?

Earlier today we launched this season's edition of The Circuit, which will track the ups and downs of the precursor circuit from the critics awards to the guild announcements all the way through the Oscars and more. But things will get serious later this afternoon as the New York Film Critics Circle sits down to hold its annual vote.

The job of the critics this time of year is to be honest about their view of quality, yes, but also to stand up for titles and individuals lost in the shuffle. Sometimes those calls line up with Oscar, sometimes not, but the road begins to get paved with these announcements. And the narrowing process -- particularly in a shortened phase one window -- is crucial.

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<p>Nicole Kidman in &quot;The Paperboy.&quot;</p>

Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy."

Credit: Millennium Entertainment

Roundup: Making the case for Nicole Kidman

Also: 'War Witch' wins at Camerimage, and Ang Lee's 'Life of Liberty Valance'

Oscar buzz is a strange, unscientific and totally intangible thing -- even contenders being left out of the precursor can generate their own conversation with some assistance from the blogosphere. Nathaniel Rogers calls it The Noise, and right now he's hearing it for Nicole Kidman, whose Oscar chances for a brilliant out-of-character turn in Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" initially seemed to be shot down with the film's critical savaging. But Kidman's doing a stealth campaign, calling up sympathetic interviewers (including our own Greg Ellwood) herself, and it's paying off with some press at just the right time. Could she crack a still-thin Best Supporting Actress category? Though I think she's really a lead in "The Paperboy," I hope so, and so does Rogers: "You'd have to bring Daniel Day-Lewis's Honest Abe into the room to give her a worthy opponent for impossible commitment to the role," he writes. [The Film Experience]

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<p>Joaquin Phoenix in &quot;The Master.&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Master' named 2012's best in Sight & Sound critics' poll

'Tabu' and 'Amour' take medal positions in poll of over 90 international critics

The awards season has already begun to some extent, but the critics are about to add their collective voice to it: tomorrow, the New York Film Critics' Circle announce their picks for 2012's best, kicking off a long, long run of critics' awards that won't finish until January. So it's apt that Sight & Sound magazine have neatly foreshadowed this turn of events with their own annual critics' poll -- one of the largest and most internationally inclusive of the lot.

And though you may already have heard this, it's good news for "The Master" -- one of the films, as it happens, that has the most to gain from the upcoming bevy of critics' honors. Paul Thomas Anderson's remarkable Scientology-inspired dual character study has acquired a reputation for being a difficult, divisive beast -- but it still united enough opinion to score the most votes in S&S's survey of over 90 critics, academics and programmers. It wouldn't surprise me to see it emerge similarly triumphant with certain leading US critics' groups, reasserting its status as a potential Oscar player.

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<p>A camera captures the Valletta townscape ahead of yesterday's European Film Awards in the Maltese capital.</p>

A camera captures the Valletta townscape ahead of yesterday's European Film Awards in the Maltese capital.

Credit: Guy Lodge

A postcard from Malta: Celebration and solemnity at the European Film Awards

Europe's Oscars capture a rich film culture at a crossroads

VALLETTA, Malta -- There’s a certain advantage to holding an awards ceremony in a different city every year: with the practical and cultural conditions of the event different each time, tradition doesn’t quite congeal into formula. This was my first trip to the European Film Awards, but this year’s Malta-set edition of the continent’s translation of the Oscars had details to surprise even seasoned attendees, whether it was the rowdy Maltese house band – a Gogol Bordello-type collective whose lead singer bore a striking resemblance to Captain Haddock – jamming on stage at regular intervals, or the venue itself, a cavernous former hospital at the sea’s edge, its dense stone walls roughened with several centuries’ worth of harder use than a mere red-carpet shindig.

If the surroundings rather humbled the awards themselves, then, that seemed appropriate in an intelligent, enjoyable ceremony that nonetheless seemed torn between honoring European film culture and reading its last rites – leaving a solemn aftertaste that coincidentally complemented a top-category sweep for Michael Haneke’s stern mortality study “Amour.”

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<p>Hal&nbsp;Needham and Quentin Tarantino at the Governors Awards</p>

Hal Needham and Quentin Tarantino at the Governors Awards

Credit: AMPAS

AMPAS honors Pennebaker, Stevens, Needham, Katzenberg at fourth annual Governors Awards

Will Smith, Quentin Tarantino Steven Spielberg and more turn out

HOLLYWOOD -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored its own tonight in the fourth annual Governors Awards. A satellite ceremony dedicated to Honorary Oscar presentations (voted on by the AMPAS Board of Governors), the program was moved off the annual Academy Awards telecast in 2009 and given its own space in the middle of awards season.

This year's Honorary Oscar recipients were documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, AFI and Kennedy Center Honors founder George Stevens Jr. and stunt coordinator Hal Needham, while Jeffrey Katzenberg received the Jean Hersholt Award for his fundraising and philanthropy.

The evening began with Pennebaker's presentation, as Senator Al Franken took to the stage to assist in the introduction. "We have big issues to confront," Franken said, noting many of the pressing matters of today -- fiscal crisis, healthcare, etc. "And we can't do it unless we're willing to tell the truth…[Pennebaker's] films succeed because of his commitment to telling the truth."

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