<p>Joaquin&nbsp;Phoenix in &quot;Her&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix in "Her"

Credit: Warner Bros.

'Her' named best film of 2013 by National Board of Review

Bruce Dern and Emma Thompson take top acting honors

Make it a second film in as many days that I had pretty much figured out of the Academy's likely grasp that has been given a big boost on the precursor circuit. After the New York Film Critics Circle named David O. Russell's "American Hustle" the year's best film yesterday, the New York-based National Board of Review has chimed in today by naming Spiike Jonze's "Her" the top film of 2013. The group also gave Jonze the Best Director prize.

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<p>&quot;Frozen&quot;</p>

"Frozen"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Roundup: 'Frozen' is a hit, but is it selling itself short?

Also: 'Banks' doesn't make bank with Brits, and the Coppola connection in 'Her'
Disney's "Frozen" has been doing rather well for itself this week -- not just commercially, but with critics who have largely welcomed its return to some of the studio's classic formulae. The same degree of goodwill, however, has not been extended to the rather gauche marketing campaign for the film, which strenuously downplays its female leads, fairytale origins and musical elements. In a bang-on piece, Justin Chang understands the commercial strategy behind this, but still thinks it's a mistake: "It’s not unreasonable — especially since truthfulness and transparency are among the movie’s key themes — to wish that it were being presented with less self-loathing and more honesty, as well as more confidence in its considerable artistic virtues." [Variety
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<p>Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in their last collaboration, &quot;Manhattan Murder Mystery.&quot;</p>

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in their last collaboration, "Manhattan Murder Mystery."

Credit: Sony Pictures

Diane Keaton to be Woody Allen's Golden Globes proxy

The director's former partner in crime will accept his Cecil B. DeMille Award

Eyebrows were raised back in September, when Woody Allen was announced as the 2014 recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement at the Golden Globes. Not, of course, that it was a controversial selection in itself: you could argue for the award being a tad redundant, given that Allen hasn't exactly been under-recognized in his career, but hardly undeserved.

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<p>Bryan Cranston in &quot;Breaking Bad,&quot; for which he received a PGA nod.</p>

Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad," for which he received a PGA nod.

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad,' 'Game of Thrones' receive PGA nods, as 'Mad Men' misses

Film categories will follow on January 2

I never realized that the Producers' Guild of America announces their TV nominations separately from their film ones, but I suppose it makes sense -- the buzz around the feature film nominees sucks up a lot of oxygen, so this way, everyone gets to feel special for a time. (The PGA actually announced their documentary nominees last week, so they really are spreading the joy.)

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<p>Best Supporting&nbsp;Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence in &quot;American&nbsp;Hustle&quot;</p>

Best Supporting Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"

Credit: Sony Pictures

'American Hustle' wins big with New York Film Critics Circle

Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett take top acting honors

David O. Russell's "American Hustle" was crowned the best film of 2013 today by the New York Film Critics Circle, capping off a nearly five-hour vote and marking the first critics awards announcement of the year. The film also received wins for Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and Best Screenplay.

From NY Mag's Vulture blog, this is worth noting:

"According to our critic David Edelstein, who is one of the NYFCC's members, the final vote for Best Picture resulted in a rare tie-breaker. NYFCC by-laws prevent the actual numbers from being released, but Edelstein said there was a strong American Hustle camp and a strong 12 Years a Slave camp (reflected in McQueen's best director win), and that the vote was remarkably close, with some members expressing 'visible dismay' when the final number was tallied."

Interesting. Also, Lou Lumenick has a breakdown of the balloting which I guess you can use to suss out runners-up and whatnot.

Check out a running commentary of the wins below and offer up your thoughts, whatever they may be, in the comments section below.

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<p>Alex Gibney's &quot;The Armstrong Lie&quot;</p>

Alex Gibney's "The Armstrong Lie"

Credit: Sony Classics

At least Alex Gibney got ONE of his docs to the next phase of Academy voting

Critical faves 'The Act of Killing' and 'Stories We Tell' survive the slaughter

The Academy has narrowed the field of 147 documentary feature contenders to 15, and the key omissions appear to be Alex Gibney's "We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks," Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's "After Tiller" and and Errol Morris' "The Unknown Known," among others.

However, Gibney can take heart that his other 2013 project, "The Armstrong Lie," was on the list. And most of the year's critical hits of the form — "The Act of Killing," "Blackfish," "Stories We Tell" — survived the slaughter.

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<p>Chiwetel Ejiofor in &quot;12 Years a Slave&quot;</p>

Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years a Slave"

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Exclusive: '12 Years,' 'Rush' and 'Mandela' among 2013 films not eligible for WGA Awards

The annual guild pruning leaves room to maneuver for other hopefuls

John Ridley's adaptation of the trials and tribulations of former slave Solomon Northup, Peter Morgan's account of James Hunt and Niki Lauda's Formula One racing rivalry and Ryan Coogler's testament to the tragically short life of Bay Area father Oscar Grant are just a handful of screenplays that won't be eligible for nominations from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) this year, HitFix has learned.

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<p>Alexandre Desplat</p>

Alexandre Desplat

Credit: Chasen & Co

Alexandre Desplat talks 'Philomena' and a busy decade full of Stateside success

The role call of directors he's worked with in a short amount of time is staggering

It was 10 Decembers ago that a French composer named Alexandre Desplat burst on to the Hollywood movie scene with his gorgeous score for "Girl With a Pearl Earring." He earned his first Golden Globe nomination for that work, and after continual quality achievements on films like "Birth," "Syriana" and "The Painted Veil," he earned his first Oscar nomination seven years ago for "The Queen." It has been nothing but up since then, as he has now earned five Oscar nominations and worked with directors ranging from Roman Polanski to Stephen Frears, Wes Anderson to Stephen Daldry, Terrence Malick to Tom Hooper, Kathryn Bigelow to George Clooney and David Fincher – and that’s just in the English language.

His latest score is for the newly released and highly regarded "Philomena." The chance to catch up recently was particularly meaningful for me, given that we first spoke the year Desplat earned his nomination for "The Queen," which was both his first Oscar nomination and the first year of In Contention's Tech Support column.

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<p>Roger Deakins&nbsp;(left)&nbsp;and director Andrew Dominik on the set of &quot;The&nbsp;Assassination of Jesse&nbsp;James by the Coward&nbsp;Robert Ford&quot;</p>

Roger Deakins (left) and director Andrew Dominik on the set of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Roger Deakins reflects on 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'

With the revival around the corner, an appreciation of the cinematography

This weekend the revival of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" finally becomes a reality. The hard work Jamieson McGonigle has put into this thing behind the scenes is something to behold and notice has been taken across the net, his mission statement even making it into a New York Times Business section piece a few weeks back. I've been honored to have a hand in it all and look forward to hopping a plane later this week to share in the spirit out in Queens Saturday night.

In the run-up to that event, a number of outlets — Ain't It Cool News, Film.com, Film School Rejects, The Film Stage and HitFix — will be offering up appreciations of various elements from the film. As you might have expected, it's on me to look back on Roger Deakins' next-level photography, and the pleasure is all mine.

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<p>Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in &quot;The Great Gatsby.&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in "The Great Gatsby."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Roundup: 'Gatsby' goes down well in Down Under Oscars

Also: Variety picks 10 Directors to Watch, and J.Law's image expertise

At present, Baz Luhrmann's spring hit "The Great Gatsby" has at least two Oscar nominations in the bag: bids for Production and Costume Design are assured, and it could well win both. Other tech nods are feasible, but while Warner Bros. are putting the campaign dollars in, above-the-line nominations seem unlikely. At the Australian Academy Awards, however, it's a different story: the blockbuster scored a leading 14 nods, including Best Picture and a quintet of acting citations for Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki and Isla Fisher. (Sorry, Tobey.) I suspect it'll lose out to Australia's heartwarming Oscar submission "The Rocket" in the top races, but "Gatsby" devotees can briefly savor heavyweight status.[AACTA]

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