Pete Hammond reports that the Weinsteins have won yet another Oscar race: the annual scramble to see who can get the first formal For Your Consideration screener mailed out to voters -- an early-bird strategy that has previously paid off for under-the-radar contenders like "A Better Life" and "Frozen River." (Millennium sent out "Bernie" a while back, but it was a commercial disc that didn't comply with official Academy regulations.) The lucky beneficiary? French Oscar submission "The Intouchables" -- an obvious contender for Best Foreign Language Film, but a crowdpleaser that I think most pundits are underestimating in other categories. Omar Sy is an outside shot who shouldn't be discounted in the Best Actor race, while I recently added the film to my Best Original Screenplay predictions. [Deadline]

The LA Times's Steven Zeitchik concludes that "Lincoln"'s presumed status as an Oscar heavyweight was sealed after yesterday's premiere, though qualifies that it "plays on the talky side." [LA Times]   

Nick Vivarelli notes that while there may be a record number of foreign-language Oscar submissions this year, politics have ensured a minimal presence for the Middle East after last year's Iranian victory. [Variety]

It's official: after being up for sale for several months, august trade paper Variety has been bought by Penske Media, who also own rival outlet Deadline. [The Wrap]

Oscar-winning Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's European Film Awards in December. [EFA]

"Take Shelter" and "Mud" director Jeff Nichols will preside over the jury at next month's Rome Film Festival. [Rome Film Festival]

Following its NYFF appearance, David Hudson considers Italian Oscar entry "Caesar Must Die," and suggests that winning the top prize in Berlin did it no favors. [Fandor]

Among other things, Ethan Hawke explains how the Oscars inspired him not to fix his crooked teeth. [The Telegraph

Jack Black talks to Daniel Montgomery about his much-lauded work in "Bernie" -- a film that made no impression whatsoever on me when I saw the film over a year ago. Maybe I should look again. [Gold Derby

On a sad closing note, Oscar-nominated producer Hank Moonjean ("Dangerous Liaisons") passed away from cancer at the age of 82. [Deadline]