<p>&quot;Ernest and Celestine,&quot; one of the 19 films submitted for Best Animated Feature.</p>

"Ernest and Celestine," one of the 19 films submitted for Best Animated Feature.

Credit: GKIDS

The Long Shot: Curbing the cartoons

Do we really need a five-wide Animated Feature category?

Yesterday, the news landed that 19 films have been entered for consideration in the Best Animated Feature Oscar race -- a small pool that could get smaller once the Academy starts vetting the submissions for eligibility. (Hard to see the significantly live-action "The Smurfs 2" meeting with their approval, for example, but don't lose heart -- there's always the chance of a history-making Best Actress nod for Katy Perry's voice performance.) The number all eyes are focused on, however, is 16 -- the number of qualifying contenders required for a five-wide nomination field. Fewer than that, and it's down to four; fewer still, and we're looking at three.

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<p>Hans Zimmer at the 2010 Oscar nominees' luncheon.</p>

Hans Zimmer at the 2010 Oscar nominees' luncheon.

Credit: AP Photo

Roundup: Hans Zimmer on the Oscars and a life in movies

Also: Emma Thompson's BAFTA tribute, and studios' co-lead problem

Hans Zimmer will very likely receive the tenth Oscar nomination of his career for his robust, striking score to "12 Years a Slave"; he may well even get his second win. (Yes, he's only won for "The Lion King.") It'll be a suitable capper on what's been a busy year for the German composer: I think he's equally Oscar-worthy for "The Lone Ranger," and there's "Rush" and "Man of Steel" besides. Anyway, the subject of the day's best online read, as he reflects (and gossips) on a range of films he's scored in his career, from "My Beautiful Launderette" to "Inception." On the Oscars, meanwhile, he says, "[They're] incredibly seductive. You see people who you admire and who you think have incredible artistic integrity make complete fools of themselves on that stage. Me included.” [Vulture]

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<p>Lynne Ramsay at the 2013 Cannes&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Festival where she served as a member of the festival jury.</p>

Lynne Ramsay at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where she served as a member of the festival jury.

Credit: AP Photo

'Jane Got a Gun' producers sue director Lynne Ramsay

A production already tainted with controversy just got uglier

It has seemed almost too quiet on the "Jane Got a Gun" front as of late. But beneath the surface, things have been tumultuous for the Natalie Portman western.

You may recall director Lynne Ramsay walked off the movie on day one of shooting, leaving a cast and crew high and dry on the New Mexico set with no clue that she was already on a plane. "Warrior" director Gavin O'Connor replaced her, cleaned house a bit and attempted to forge on, though rumor had it things were in just as much disarray as the day he arrived, if not worse.

Well, things just got uglier. Monday the film's producers filed a lawsuit against Ramsay in federal court.

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<p>Tom Hardy and Elton John at this morning's &quot;Rocketman&quot; buyers' event.</p>

Tom Hardy and Elton John at this morning's "Rocketman" buyers' event.

Credit: DDA PR

Tom Hardy and Elton John buddy up to present 'Rocketman' biopic

Could the year's least expected casting news turn to 2015 Oscar gold?

Ye gods, what is this: am I seeing double? Were they separated at birth? Is it an optical illusion, with one of them looking in a mirror? How else to explain the uncanny resemblance betw--okay, okay, I'll stop now. Suffice to say this shot of Tom Hardy and Elton John from this morning doesn't exactly highlight the physical likeness between the hulking actor and the legendarily flamboyant pop star, which is why the thought of the former playing the latter in an upcoming film remains so deliciously, intriguingly weird.

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<p>Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with &quot;Live By Night&quot; on Christmas Day 2015.</p>

Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with "Live By Night" on Christmas Day 2015.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait: Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' and Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' get dates

Could either impact future awards seasons?

It's never too early to look at future awards season players. Today, Warner Bros. slotted two potential players with new release dates.

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2014 Adapted and Original Screenplay Oscar Contenders: Most competitive year ever?

2014 Adapted and Original Screenplay Oscar Contenders: Most competitive year ever?

This year's field of originals and adaptations is incredibly dense

As we begin to taper off the weekly category run-downs (we have just one more left, Best Animated Feature Film), we move on to the screenplays. It's an interesting mix and the two categories, while not loaded with a ton of contenders, are still quite dense with multiple hopefuls sporting a fair shot at recognition from the writers branch.

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<p>Disney's &quot;Frozen&quot;&nbsp;looks to be the frontrunner in this year's race.</p>

Disney's "Frozen" looks to be the frontrunner in this year's race.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

19 animated features submitted for 2013 Oscar race

If at least 16 of them qualify the category will stretch to five nominees

The Academy has announced that 19 films have been submitted for consideration in this year's Best Animated Feature Film race. Per Academy rules, 16 qualifying films are needed for the category to extend to five nominations. But all 19 may not qualify. For instance, "The Smurfs 2" was submitted by Sony, but as with the first film in that franchise a few years ago, it could be dismissed by the Academy as ineligible due to various factors.

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<p>Andrew Dominik on the set of &quot;The Assassination of Jesse&nbsp;James by the Coward&nbsp;Robert Ford&quot;</p>

Andrew Dominik on the set of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Credit: Warner Bros.

Exclusive: Andrew Dominik could give you his 'Jesse James' director's cut in 'half a day'

One deleted scene in particular might have landed Brad Pitt an Oscar nod

In the years since the 2007 release of Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," an even longer, deeper-realized cut of the 160-minute western has been a sort of holy grail for the film's acolytes. Mostly that's because of how within reach the possibility seems. This isn't a six-hour "Thin Red Line" that can't see the light of day by both reason and practicality. It's something that already has the willingness of the director going for it and could just use a little support from the studio to be realized.

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<p>Cate Blanchett at the&nbsp;Paris premiere of &quot;Blue Jasmine&quot; in August.</p>

Cate Blanchett at the Paris premiere of "Blue Jasmine" in August.

Credit: AP Photo

Cate Blanchett named Santa Barbara's Outstanding Performer of the Year

The Oscar winner will receive her prize at the 29th annual festival in February

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival has kicked off a wave of tribute announcements today with the revelation that Cate Blanchett will receive this year's Outstanding Performer of the Year award for her work in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine."

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<p>Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in &quot;Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.&quot;</p>

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: 'Mandela' goes to Washington

Also: Independent directors dish, and how the Academy got it right in 1988

You need only look to "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" to observe how hard the fall festival circuit can be on certain prestige hopefuls: prime Oscar bait on paper, The Weinstein Company contender's buzz plummeted after a first wave of reviews that deemed it (not inaccurately, I think) turgid biopic-by-numbers stuff, however well-acted. How to get people talking about it again? Well, the announcement of an official White House screening this week for President Obama, due to be attended by Mandela's daughters and stars Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, will earn it a fresh batch of headlines and nifty photo opportunities. Will it help? Tim Gray considers the value of a political endorsement. [Variety]

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