<p>&quot;The Great Beauty&quot; is Italy's Oscar hopeful this year.</p>

"The Great Beauty" is Italy's Oscar hopeful this year.

Credit: Janus Films

Profiling the foreign Oscar contenders, from 'The Grandmaster' to 'The Great Beauty'

A closer look at the nine films selected by the Academy

The Academy caught me off guard yesterday when it announced the nine finalists for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- I'm used to that news landing in January, and hadn't even thought to serve up any shortlist speculation or predictions. Which is just as well, since after a few years of sussing out most of their choices in advance, I'd probably have been far wide of the mark this time round. Already, three of the films I was predicting in the sidebar as eventual nominees -- Chilean crowdpleaser "Gloria," Canadian charmer "Gabrielle" and Saudi Arabian milestone "Wadjda" -- failed to make the cut.

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<p>Thelma Schoonmaker accepts her third Oscar to date for &quot;The Departed&quot;&nbsp;in 2007.</p>

Thelma Schoonmaker accepts her third Oscar to date for "The Departed" in 2007.

Credit: AP Photo

Thelma Schoonmaker talks cutting 'Wall Street' improv and learning from Martin Scorsese

We almost got 'Kill Bill'-style paired volumes out of the opus

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Film editor Thelma Schoonmaker has been with Martin Scorsese since the beginning. Their collaboration, which extends over 19 feature films, a handful of shorts and even a Michael Jackson music video, has made for some of the richest, purest, most alive American cinema in history, and "The Wolf of Wall Street," opening next week, is just another notch on that belt.

I recently sat down with Schoonmaker to discuss all of that and more, and I don't mind saying, I couldn't help but gush. Anyone with a passion for cinema, I imagine, will fight the urge to bow at the feet of a woman like this, who has been such a consistent force behind some of the most indelible film imagery of our time.

Schoonmaker has been nominated for six Oscars for her collaborations with Scorsese, having won for "Raging Bull," "The Aviator" and "The Departed." Meeting him changed her life, as meeting her surely changed his. And that certainly came across in our hour-long conversation, which you can read through below. It's another long one, so settle in, or bookmark it and enjoy it over the holiday.

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<p>Sandra Bullock in &quot;Gravity.&quot;</p>

Sandra Bullock in "Gravity."

Credit: Warner Bros.Pictures

Dublin critics are over the moon for 'Gravity'

Interesting runners-up include 'The Act of Killing' and 'What Maisie Knew'

Greetings from Ireland -- where, coincidentally enough, I touched down shortly before the Dublin Film Critics' Circle announced their 2013 award winners. And an interesting list it is, too. Don't look for "12 Years a Slave" here -- only films released locally this year are eligible -- but "Gravity" took Best Picture, Director and Cinematography. It's the runner-up lists, however, where their individuality emerges: there are 10 or more in each category (the Irish have a funny way of counting ties, it seems), and choices range from "What Maisie Knew" for Best Picture to Brady Corbet in "Simon Killer" for Best Actor to "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" for Best Cinematography. A refreshing change from the usual-usual. Full list after the jump; check out every group's winners so far at The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;August:&nbsp;Osage&nbsp;County&quot;&nbsp;won Best Actress and Best Ensemble</p>

"August: Osage County" won Best Actress and Best Ensemble

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Nevada critics award '12 Years,' McConaughey, Streep

'Gravity' leads the field with three prizes, 'August: Osage County' wins two

The Nevada Film Critics Society has hopped on the "12 Years a Slave" bandwagon, awarding the film Best Film honors (though nothing else). Meanwhile, Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" picked up three prizes, including Best Director, while Meryl Streep landed her first prize of the year for her performance in "August: Osage County." Check out the full list of winners below and remember to keep track at The Circuit.

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"The Grandmaster"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Wadjda' and 'The Past' miss the foreign Oscar cut

'Broken Circle Breakdown' and 'The Grandmaster' among the survivors

The Academy has narrowed its list of foreign language film contenders to nine in advance of the nominations announcement for the 86th annual Academy Awards.

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Jamie Bell in "Nymphomaniac."
Jamie Bell in "Nymphomaniac."
Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Bigger, longer and uncut version of 'Nymphomaniac' to premiere at Berlinale

Lars von Trier's latest to play out of competition at the February fest

Well, I sensed this was coming. Even though some sources stringently maintained that Lars von Trier was not pursuing a festival berth for his gargantuan sex epic "Nymphomaniac," the timing simply made too much sense for this not to happen: the Danish director's, er, extended cut of the film will have its world premiere out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

Well, half of it, at least.

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"American Hustle" is one of this year's comedy Globe nominees.
"American Hustle" is one of this year's comedy Globe nominees.
Credit: Sony Pictures

Roundup: On this year's not-quite-comic Globe nominees

Also: Oscar contenders that need a big screen, and Edgar Wright's best of 2013

When last week's Golden Globe nominations were announced, one of the chief talking points was the unusual degree of prestige attached to the comedy/musical nominees -- and, by genre-bias extension, the relatively un-comic nature of a number of them. Disagreement exists as to whether the classing-up of these frequently daffy categories is for better or worse, and Jen Chaney examines the pros and cons: "They aren’t comedies, but they also aren’t not comedies ... Assuming that anything productive can come from this much deep thought about the Golden Globes, maybe the most productive thing we can do is to stop framing the comedy classification as a trivialization. Maybe it would be better to think of this year’s crop of Golden Globe nominees as further proof that comedies can be just as rich, complex, and thought-provoking as the most gravely serious dramas." [The Dissolve]

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<p>A scene from &quot;Gravity&quot;</p>

A scene from "Gravity"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Utah critics flip the script, award 'Gravity,' Nighy, 'World's End'

A single win for circuit hog '12 Years a Slave'

The Utah Film Critics Association has come along and done for Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" what no other US critics group has: handed it its own, tie-free win for Best Picture of 2013. It also received Best Director and Best Cinematography from the group, while recent circuit hog "12 Years a Slave" walked away with just one prize: Best Actor. The script was flipped in a few other areas, particularly in the Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay categories. Check out the full list of winners below and remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>Ellen DeGeneres and some of Hollywood's best dancers in Paul Feig's 2014 Oscars trailer.</p>

Ellen DeGeneres and some of Hollywood's best dancers in Paul Feig's 2014 Oscars trailer.

Credit: Courtesy of AMPAS

Ellen DeGeneres says 'Here we go!' with euphoric new 2014 Oscars trailer

Nice break for Fitz and the Tantrums

Looking for something to cheer up your day? The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Paul Feig and Ellen DeGeneres have something that just might do it.

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Asghar Farhadi with Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim on the set of "The Past."
Asghar Farhadi with Berenice Bejo and Tahar Rahim on the set of "The Past."
Credit: Sony Classics

Asghar Farhadi on why 'The Past' is a brother to 'A Separation'

The foreign-language Oscar hopeful opens in limited release tomorrow

"You can't go home again," wrote Thomas Wolfe, and that much-worn phrase echoes mournfully in the mind as one observes the chilly corridors and gaping personal distances of "The Past," Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi's first feature since winning the Oscar for his crisp, complex and universally acclaimed marital drama "A Separation."

An elegantly turned melodrama, detailing the terse emotional warfare that ensues when an Iranian man travels to Paris to finalize his divorce from his estranged French wife, it might well have been titled "Another Separation": Farhadi's fascination with the politics and shadow structures of marriage and family -- within and without Iranian tradition-- is a binding element of his filmography.

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