Taking questions for 1/13 Oscar Talk

Offer up your burning queries

Alright, you know the drill. Rifle off your need-to-knows and we'll try to address a few in the podcast. We'll surely be previewing the Golden Globes and talking about DGA, ASC, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and other news items from the week as it is, so steer away from that and give us something fresh to chew on.

<p>Anna Paquin in&nbsp;&quot;Margaret&quot;</p>

Anna Paquin in "Margaret"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: Anna Paquin on ‘Margaret,’ maturity and embracing the horror

The actress gives context to the stunning work writer/director Kenneth Lonergan drew out of her six years ago

As the door closes on phase one of the Oscar season and nomination ballots are finalized, Kenneth Lonergan’s “Margaret” takes the stage in the final moments. Screeners of the film were finally sent out to all voting members of the Academy recently, and now, supporters of the film wait to see if said members may have responded to the material.

The actress at the center of the story, Anna Paquin, delivered her performance six years ago, when she was 23. And yet the experience still seems fresh and vivid in her mind, as if she were leaving the set after a day of emotional Olympics on “Margaret” rather than an evening of stunt-heavy work on Alan Ball’s southern-fried vamp camp phenomenon “True Blood.”

What the intermittent years have done is give her a sense of perspective akin to the kind of enriched self-understanding only attained with the passage of time. But then the actress already had the benefit of chronological distance from her character, Lisa Cohen, when production began, providing the space necessary for her to find what was lovable in a girl who she concedes is so often eristic in the film.

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"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" DP Hoyte van Hoytema made the cut, furthering its success in craft guild announcements.
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" DP Hoyte van Hoytema made the cut, furthering its success in craft guild announcements.
Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker, Tailor,' 'Dragon Tattoo' among ASC nominees, 'War Horse' snubbed again

Yet another bump in the road for Steven Spielberg's World War I epic

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has announced nominees for excellence in the field this year, and missing from the nominees was Janusz Kaminski's work on "War Horse," which marks yet another key snub for the film in the precursor season.

I've been critical of the lensing of Steven Spielberg's World War I epic, which was commendable in intent more so than practice and felt a bit uneven throughout. Nevertheless, it's a surprise to see Kaminski miss here, and further indication that the industry has not responded well to the film.

The happy surprise, though not all that surprising still, is Hoyte van Hoytema getting in for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," a moody, atmospheric piece of work with photography as observational and patient as the directorial vision. It's the second guild nod for the film, following an Art Directors Guild citation, showing that the film has support through the craft branches even if it's not registering with groups like the PGA and DGA.

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<p>Eduardo Noriega in &quot;Blackthorn.&quot;</p>

Eduardo Noriega in "Blackthorn."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Round-up: It's your moment to shine, 'Blackthorn'

Also: Defending 'War Horse' and judging 2011's movie posters

Hey, remember "Blackthorn?" It wouldn't surprise me if you don't. Mateo Gil's western, starring Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy, came and went in the fall with nary a sound, and certainly hasn't been part of any awards conversation. But every dog has its day, and the film just scooped 11 nominations for the Goya Awards, otherwise known as the Spanish Oscars. The film may not seem terribly Spanish to you, but it qualifies thanks to the beauty of international funding -- which is also why that noted Basque auteur Woody Allen nabbed a screenplay nomination (though nothing else) for "Midnight in Madrid Paris." Curiouser and curiouser. More predictably, Pedro Almodóvar's emphatically Spanish "The Skin I Live In" leads the field with 16 nominations. [THR]

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<p>Bob Dylan performs at the London Feis Festival in June of last year.</p>

Bob Dylan performs at the London Feis Festival in June of last year.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Bob Dylan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Harrison to participate in Critics' Choice Martin Scorsese tribute

Dylan will perform for the Music+Film Award recipient

Tomorrow's 17th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards ceremony just went electric.

The Broadcast Film Critics Association has announced that singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, along with Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Harrison (widow of Beatle George Harrison), will participate in Martin Scorsese's Music+Film Award tribute. DiCaprio and Harrison will present the award, while Dylan (who was featured briefly in Scorsese's "The Last Waltz" in 1978 and in depth in the 2005 documentary "No Direction Home") will toast the director with a performance.

Scorsese was announced in December as the second recipient of the award, which was inaugurated last year when it was presented to filmmaker Quentin Tarantino at the 2011 CCMA ceremony. The award honors "a single filmmaker who has touched audiences through cinematic storytelling and has heightened the impact of films through the brilliant use of source and original music."

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<p>William Shimell and Juliette Binoche in &quot;Certified Copy.&quot;</p>

William Shimell and Juliette Binoche in "Certified Copy."

Credit: IFC Films

First-Half FYC: Best Actress and Actor

From Wiig to Wilson, 10 leading turns from early 2011 that deserve a shot

If you've read the first two parts of this column series, you'll know by now what the drill is. Every year, the Oscar race is overwhelmingly tilted in favor of films released later in the year (one need only observe the surprising Guild performance of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" to realize the see the side effects of voters' short memories), as numerous early-year standouts struggle to remain in the conversation. These columns, then, aim to remind you of certain deserving but time-faded contenders from films released from January to June 2011, their buzz largely fading if they ever had it in the first place.

We've already covered the supporting and screenplay races: this week, it's the turn of the leading actors and actresses. Combing through the list of first-half releases, I was pleased to encounter enough worthy names that restricting myself to the traditional five-wide ballot proved rather a challenge: Best Actress, in particular, served up a number of far tastier options than the more recent ones we're currently considering in the Oscar race. I wanted to find room for Catherine Deneuve ("Potiche"), Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna"), Brad Pitt ("The Tree of Life"), Clive Owen ("Trust") and even Johnny Depp ("Rango"); unfortunately (or fortunately, from a film viewer's perspective), I ran out of room.

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<p>Christopher Plummer (left)&nbsp;and Ewan McGregor in &quot;Beginners&quot;</p>

Christopher Plummer (left) and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners"

Credit: Focus Features

'Albert Nobbs,' 'Beginners' and 'Weekend' feature in Gay & Lesbian critics nominations

Pedro Almodóvar's 'The Skin I Live In' gets some love, too

The Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association has announced its list of nominees this year, and out front with two mentions apiece were "Albert Nobbs," "Beginners" and "Weekend."

The film of the year category includes several of the standard precursor favorites: “The Descendents,” “The Artist” and “The Tree of Life” among them. But it also includes a film that I feel as though I have been in an ongoing conversation with since seeing it several weeks ago, a contemporization of the myth of Pygmalion as only Pedro Almodóvar could conceive: “The Skin I Live In.” Andrew Haigh’s indie exploration of gay romance “Weekend” also got a nod.

Christopher Plummer and Janet McTeer both received nominations for Performance of the Year for their work in "Beginners" and" Albert Nobbs" respectively. Plummer is an odds-on favorite for a Best Supporting actor Oscar nomination, while Janet McTeer one-upped her film's co-star, Glenn Close. My dark horse Best Actor favorite Michael Fassbender is also included in the field for his work in “Shame.”

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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;The Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 bubble contenders to consider for Oscar

Our picks for potential nominees that need that extra shove

Ballots are in hand and the last push to this Friday's poll deadline is tight and spirited. The guilds have done a nice job of shaking things up somewhat, offering some nominees here and there that were a bit unexpected, but they haven't exactly turned the usual order of things on its ear, either.

Nevertheless, now is the time when you cross your fingers for completely left-field picks from the Academy's membership (most of which has likely already turned in its ballot by now), but mainly hope for some bubble contenders that are highly deserving to fall on the right side of the line come Tuesday, January 24.

Enter this installment of the lists, which is an attempt to look at the race somewhat realistically by offering up some bubble-contending suggestions to the few holdouts still staring at blanks on their ballot and hoping for inspiration.

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<p>Kirsten Dunst's performance in &quot;Melancholia&quot; won Best Actress awards from Cannes and the National Society of Film Critics.</p>

Kirsten Dunst's performance in "Melancholia" won Best Actress awards from Cannes and the National Society of Film Critics.

Credit: AP/Chris Pizzello

Interview: Kirsten Dunst on 'Melancholia,' Lars von Trier and directing her own career

NSFC and Cannes Best Actress winner discusses her career-best work

Over the course of a career not much shorter than her 29 year-old life, Kirsten Dunst has covered a lot of bases -- skipping gamely between fluorescent Hollywood blockbusters, handmade American indies, fizzy teen comedies, primetime television and the chillier climes of the European arthouse -- but there's one area the actress feels she's neglected thus far.

"I really want to do a film in another language," she says, her tone ruminative but quite serious, over the phone from Los Angeles. "My dad's from Germany, so it'd be really cool to do a film in German. I'm not quite fluent, but I can get there. And my accent's pretty good. I wouldn't feel too out of my element."

It's not just any German film she wants to work on either: Michael Haneke, that esteemed Austrian dissector of psychological trouble, currently tops her wishlist of directors to work with in the future, a group that also include Paul Thomas Anderson and Alexander Payne. The prospect of the sunny New Jersey blonde collaborating with the frosty German-born formalist isn't quite as unimaginable as it might have been a year or two ago, before another prickly European provocateur, Lars von Trier, showed everyone what Kirsten Dunst is made of in "Melancholia."

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<p>Brad Pitt won Best Actor for his performance in &quot;Moneyball.&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt won Best Actor for his performance in "Moneyball."

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Tree of Life,' Pitt, Streep win with Denver critics

Terrence Malick and Michel Hazanavicius tie for Best Director

"The Descendants" may have led the way with the Denver Film Critics Society's nominations, but it was "The Tree of Life" that won the big prize. Still, Alexander Payne's film won a field-leading three awards, for Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble. Check out the full list of winners below.

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