As with most works of high-reaching ambition that critics can't quite agree on -- even those that like it -- "The Master" continues to inspire some of the knottiest film writing of the year. For her part, Stephanie Zacharek admires the film, but suggests a lot of her colleagues feel it's entitled to more thought and attention than it really is. She spins that into an observation of lofty, anti-mainstream festival titles in general: "There’s a danger in erecting false walls around different corners of the culture, of claiming some movies deserve our respect by virtue of who made them and of how they’re made, regardless of whether they arouse any passion in us." [The AV Club]

R. Kurt Osenland examines the Oscar prospects for the fast-cooling "The Dark Knight Rises," a concludes that it's only assured of two technical nods. [Slant]

Anne Thompson talks to "Looper" star Emily Blunt about her busy year. (I see Anne's predicting a Supporting Actress nod for Blunt on Gold Derby. First time I've heard that mentioned. [Thompson on Hollywood]

Dave Itzkoff talks to Tim Burton about "Frankenweenie" -- and, generally, what it's like to live in that head. [New York Times]

Speaking of which, "Frankenweenie" writer John August highlights his brief but hilarious musical contribution to the film. [John August]

Quentin Tarantino has given himself a cameo role in "Django Unchained." (Please let the record state that we just mentioned "Django Unchained.") [The Guardian]

Costume designer Tess Schofield talks about getting the period detail just right in the Weinsteins' Down Under Motown musical "The Sapphires." [Sydney Morning Herald]

The would-be inspirational education drama "Won't Back Down" has indeed inspired parents' groups and the American Federation of Teachers... to protest. [THR]

"The Avengers" director Joss Whedon offers six nuggets of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers. [Film School Rejects]

Ahead of "The Sessions"'s UK premiere at the London Film Festival, an in-depth look at the real-life work of sex surrogates. [The Telegraph]