If In Contention readers had a ballot...

If In Contention readers had a ballot...

'12 Years' would win Best Picture and Leonardo DiCaprio would take Best Actor

Over the last week and a half we've asked In Contention readers for their preference in each of the Academy's 24 Oscar categories in our daily Oscars Lowdown features. The results are in and, like a number of people and organizations this year, our readership had a tough time deciding between "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" for top honors. In the end, Steve McQueen's film was voted Best Picture by those who participated, while Alfonso Cuarón was the preference in Best Director.

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<p>Alain Resnais</p>

Alain Resnais

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

On the passing of Alain Resnais, the auteur who stayed playful to the end

The 'Last Year at Marienbad' director has passed away at 92

When I awoke this morning to the unhappy news that Alain Resnais, the French director of "Last Year at Marienbad," "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" and "Night and Fog" among many, many others, had passed away at the age of 92, my first thought was how different the moment felt to most other announcements of veteran artists' departures -- more sorely immediate than the usual solemn, remove-your-hat mourning. Most nonagenarian directors who die do so with their life's work complete; Resnais's certainly wasn't lacking, but the man wasn't finished either.

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Best and Worst of the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards

Best and Worst of the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards

Leto thanks the world and Oswalt feels out the gig for the first time

The rain is touch and go in LA as the Independent Spirit Awards have come and gone. "12 Years a Slave" was the big winner, but throughout the show, as usual with these things, there was plenty to praise and plenty to pan. From cool and rousing speeches to an audience that just couldn't sit down and shut up, check out our survey of the best and worst of the show in the gallery story below.

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HitFix's final 86th Academy Awards predictions

HitFix's final 86th Academy Awards predictions

Who will get bragging rights Monday morning?

It's time to put up or shut up. After months and months and months of campaigning, stretching as far back as Cannes 2013 (or maybe even Sundance?), the Oscar season is finally drawing to a close.

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<p>Steve McQueen and the production team of &quot;12 Years a Slave&quot; at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards</p>

Steve McQueen and the production team of "12 Years a Slave" at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards

Credit: AP Photo

'12 Years a Slave' leads Independent Spirit Awards winners

Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto pick up acting awards

The 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards found a place in the sun away from (most of) the rain for a few hours Saturday afternoon. "12 Years a Slave" led the pack, picking up five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The film could take the industry's top prize at the Oscars Sunday night.

Acting winners included Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for their work in "Dallas Buyers Club," supporting actress Lupita Nyong'o for "12 Years a Slave," and Cate Blachett for best actress in "Blue Jasmine."

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<p>Looks like an Oscars promo picture doesn&#39;t it?&nbsp; Nope, these three represent likely winners at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards.</p>

Looks like an Oscars promo picture doesn't it?  Nope, these three represent likely winners at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards.

2014 Independent Spirit Awards predictions

Is Brad PItt going to win an Indie Spirit Award?

It may be raining. It may be chilly. One thing is for sure, the drinks will be flowing and the giant tent that is the annual home for the Independent Spirit Awards will be buzzing.

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<p>Never let go.</p>

Never let go.

Credit: Warner Bros.

On Oscars and the personal gravity of art

With the industry's world stage on the horizon, just something from the heart

When you have passion for movies but find yourself covering the circus that is the Oscar race every year, you're constantly searching out that zen patch of land, away from, maybe even above, the fray.

There are a couple of things I've asserted in all my years of doing this. "No one needs awards coverage this deep," as quoted by New York Magazine in an article last week, is one. "Don't take this too seriously" is another. On the latter, I can't really force that stance on anyone, nor should I. If you want to take the Oscars seriously, as something indicative of greater truth, as something — because of the show's position on the "world stage" — with the potential of illuminating the human condition, or the milestones of artistic history, that's fine. I leave that in the hands of the artists and the art, not the voters and the contest.

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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Picture - Is it really a two-horse race or will something shock the world?

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Picture - Is it really a two-horse race or will something shock the world?

'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' do battle while others look for an inside track

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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<p>Adele Exarchopoulos won the only award for &quot;Blue is the Warmest Color&quot; at tonight&#39;s Cesar ceremony.</p>

Adele Exarchopoulos won the only award for "Blue is the Warmest Color" at tonight's Cesar ceremony.

Credit: Sundance Selects

'Blue is the Warmest Color' falls to 'Me, Myself and Mum' at César Awards

Roman Polanski surprises, while 'Broken Circle Breakdown' bests 'Gravity'
Since its blazing triumph at Cannes, things haven't gone all that well for "Blue is the Warmest Color" on the awards beat. Oscar eligibility controversy aside, it was cockblocked  by "The Great Beauty" at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and European Film Awards, and now it's also lost on its own home turf, as actor-director Guillaume Gallienne's autobiographical comedy "Me, Myself and Her" took top honors at the César Awards.
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Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Director - Cuarón is on a collision course with Oscar

Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Director - Cuarón is on a collision course with Oscar

Unless Steve McQueen upsets to become the category's first black winner

In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!

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