<p>Maribel Verdu in &quot;Blancanieves.&quot;</p>

Maribel Verdu in "Blancanieves."

Credit: Cohen Media Group

Review: Spain's lively Oscar entry 'Blancanieves' takes Snow White to the silent era

The classic fairytale gets a flamenco spin in its third go-round this year

LONDON - Whole vats of column ink (or the invisible online equivalent) have been spent by industry observers on the refuge Hollywood has recently sought in the humble fairytale. Whether on Red Riding Hood or the giant-slaying Jack, blockbuster millions are being lavished on reconfiguring a familiar storytelling universe that was once largely the domain of animators.

But if it's been easy to connect this increased taste for pumped-up tradition to financially fragile US studios seeking comfort in the ultimate known quantities, we might now have to amend that copy a bit: “Blancanieves” a lush, lively new Sevillian spin on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” that carries Spain's hopes in this year's Oscar race, takes the trend to the international arthouse. “Snow White,” of course, currently leads the charge in fairytale revisionism, having already yielded two contrasting English-language adaptations this year: Tarsem's larkish, cupcake-colored delight “Mirror Mirror” and Rupert Sanders' older-skewing and considerably dourer Gothic take “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

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Oscar Talk: Ep. 92 -- Gotham nods, 'Flight,' 'Lincoln' and Best Supporting Actress

Oscar Talk: Ep. 92 -- Gotham nods, 'Flight,' 'Lincoln' and Best Supporting Actress

Also: When is Oscar marketing overkill?

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>A detail from the poster for &quot;Ted.&quot;</p>

A detail from the poster for "Ted."

Credit: Universal Pictures

Roundup: 'Ted' takes top honors in Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards

Also: New York Critics' Circle sets a date, and farewell to 'Emmanuelle'

Chances are Seth MacFarlane's hosting gig will remain the biggest win for "Ted" at February's Oscar ceremony, but the raunchy teddy-bear comedy had its own taste of awards glory at the Hollywood Reporter Key Art Awards, which recognize the industry's top achievements in movie marketing, "Ted" won the night's top award, for best overall campaign. Top of the trailer heap, meanwhile, was "Shame," which took gold in the audio-visual category for its striking red-band "Subway" trailer. Other films recognized included "The Dark Knight Rises," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Prometheus" (though not for Most Over-Marketed Film of the Year, surprisingly enough) and the upcoming "Man of Steel." [THR

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<p>An image from Alex Gibney's &quot;Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.&quot;</p>

An image from Alex Gibney's "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God."

Credit: HBO Films

US docs 'Mea Maxima Culpa,' 'Central Park Five' and 'West of Memphis' powerfully take on corrupt authorities

Multiple institutions take a beating in a seething trio of films

LONDON -- There's a temptation at film festivals to imagine cinematic trends based on certain likenesses between films screened in close proximity – though when those films drift away from each other out in the real world, those initial overlaps don't always seem so resonant. So I'm not going to point to something in the air after watching three standout US documentaries at the London Film Festival – “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” “Central Park Five” and “West of Memphis” – that chronicle a range of young individuals failed in various ways by American authorities.

Even so, their shared spirit of measured fury is striking: each film documents a long night's journey into day of sorts, as a severe human infraction is brought to rights – or at least partial correction – over the course of years, or even decades. The inequities of the United States justice system come under scrutiny in “Central Park Five” and “West of Memphis,” while “Mea Maxima Culpa” puts the Catholic Church atop its target list. Considered distrust of the social systems designed to protect us, however, courses through all of them, making for a powerful American collective in a touchy election year.

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<p>The museum is set to open in 2016</p>

The museum is set to open in 2016

Credit: AMPAS

The Academy unveils vision for motion picture museum

$100 million in the bank with $150 million more to go

The Academy has taken another big step toward establishing its long-in-the-making motion picture museum right in the heart of Los Angeles. The organization announced today that it has reached its initial goal of $100 million toward a $250 capital campaign to fund the project, which will be housed within the former Wilshire May Company building on the southwest corner of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's campus on Wilshire Blvd.

Concurrently, the Academy also unveiled its vision for the museum, which is designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali and set to open in 2016. The non-profit enterprise "will be a landmark that both our industry and our city can be immensely proud of," Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said via press release, and indeed, it's a bold and unique undertaking that comes at a crucial time for the preservation of film and continued cinema history education.

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<p>&quot;The Avengers&quot; is the box office champ by some margin in the category this year.</p>

"The Avengers" is the box office champ by some margin in the category this year.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Tech Support: 'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight Rises' and 'The Hobbit' lead Best Visual Effects race

Other formidable contenders include 'Life of Pi' and 'The Impossible'

Every year, it seems as though summer blockbusters try to outdo each other in the realm of visual effects. The rise of 3D has made visual effects even more of a selling point for many films, with two of the last three winners in this category (“Hugo” and “Avatar”) employing such technology.

The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects awards up to four of the hundreds of individuals who create the these elements. More than any other category, being a blockbuster that has made a lot of money helps immensely (though largely that's because blockbusters that make a lot of money tend to be effects-heavy). That said, being a Best Picture nominee certainly helps. And, as I pointed out last year, it helps even more at the win stage.

Until a few years ago, there were only three nominees in this category, chosen from a pre-announced list of seven finalists. This practice was changed effective 2009, and now there are 10 pre-announced finalists, from which five nominees are chosen.

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<p>&quot;Moonrise Kingdom&quot;&nbsp;gets an early start as it hopes to hang on throughout the season.</p>

"Moonrise Kingdom" gets an early start as it hopes to hang on throughout the season.

Credit: Focus Features

'Bernie,' 'Beasts' and 'Moonrise' get a boost from 2012 Gotham nominations

'The Master' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' also recognized

The awards season is "officially" under way today as the first awards show of the season has announced its list of nominees. The Gotham Independent Film Awards are typically good for establishing certain independent films in the race early on, films that hope to maintain a profile throughout the season as the bigger titles do battle. Beneficiaries of Gotham recognition have included "Beginners," "The Tree of Life," "The Descendants," "Winter's Bone," "Black Swan," "The Kids Are All Right," "The Hurt Locker" and "A Serious Man" in recent years.

The 22nd annual slate could prove helpful to a film like Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," which picked up two nominations including Best Feature, as the film looks to turn summer release goodwill into a Best Picture Oscar nomination. (It landed on DVD/Blu-ray yesterday, which also helps.) Richard Linklater's "Bernie," meanwhile, also nominated for Best Feature, can ride an early wave like this and perhaps more voters will put in the screener and give it a look. This after Millennium Entertainment brought Linklater and star Jack Black to New York and Los Angeles for a few soirées to get the engine humming.

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

Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: Phoenix on why awards season is 'bullshit'

Also: R.I.P. Koji Wakamatsu, and Mendes talks Bond

There may still be a question mark over how well "The Master" goes over with the Academy, but there's little doubt that Joaquin Phoenix is primed for a nomination (at least) for his blazing performance in it. When he gets it, however, it'll be without any help from the actor himself, who has made it quite clear he has no interest in the whole ritual of awards season whatsoever. His interview with Elvis Mitchell touches on many interesting areas, but here are his thoughts on the Oscar-chasing business: "I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it... Pitting people against each other . . . It's the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when 'Walk the Line' was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again." Guess he won't be coming to the ceremony, then. [Interview

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<p>Daniel&nbsp;Day-Lewis in &quot;Lincoln&quot;</p>

Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

Yes, Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' has a big date with Oscar

The director's 27th theatrical feature is a marvel of design and performance

While Guy is shrewdly noting the potential for British voting contingents to rally behind this or that (particularly "Les Misérables") in this year's Oscar race, I've just emerged from what is undeniably one of the most quintessentially American efforts of the year: Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." Though the irony of the fact that the titular Commander-in-Chief and the leader of the Union army are portrayed by Brits in the film is not lost on me, I assure you.

Nevertheless, the film -- which has seen a staggered press screening roll-out since its "surprise" New York Film Festival bow last week -- pumps with the blood of a nation and one of its darkest chapters. It's Spielberg's most performance-heavy work to date, and indeed, features a cross-section of character actors and star-caliber players all spouting off dialogue thick with the drama of the moment. Every inch of the frame feels heavy with Importance (with a capital "I"), and for good reason. It's a crucial moment and the need to emboss that fact is never lost on Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner.

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<p>Eddie Redmayne in &quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables.&quot;</p>

Eddie Redmayne in "Les Misérables."

Credit: Universal Pictures

The Long Shot: Are the British coming?

In a weak year for UK film, 'Les Mis' carries the Limeys' Oscar hopes

"I'm not going to be narrow enough to claim these fellows can't act,” wrote acidic industry columnist Hedda Hopper in 1964. “They've had plenty of practice. The weather's so foul on that tiny isle that, to get in out of the rain, they gather themselves in theaters and practice 'Hamlet' on each other.”

“These fellows” were, of course, the British – who, much to the chagrin of Hollywood loyalists like Hopper, enjoyed a golden streak at the Academy Awards consistent with the all-purpose ‘British Invasion’ of the mid-60s. When she wrote this, the UK had claimed back-to-back Best Picture wins with “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Tom Jones,” while victories for such British stars as Julie Christie, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Paul Scofield lay ahead.

It’s a love affair the Academy has maintained over the decades, in some periods more passionately than in others: Colin Welland’s cry of “The British are coming!” as underdog “Chariots of Fire” claimed the 1981 Best Picture Oscar signalled another mini-surge. More recently, after a lengthy stretch of American domination, triumphs for “Slumdog Millionaire” in the 2008 race, and “The King’s Speech” two years later, suggested another invasion might be afoot.

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