The Best Foreign Language Film race so far has proceeded with a minimum of the usual controversy: most countries' selections were met with approval, and the Academy's eventual shortlist is a credible one. Still, dissatisfaction lingers, whether it's with the overwhelmingly European slant of this year's shortlist, or the one-film-per-country rule. Mark Olsen speaks to the directors and distributors of this year's shortlisted films to get their take on the fundamentally flawed award. Jeff Lipsky, head of "Sister" distributor Adopt Films has this to say: "The category is called best foreign language film, not best foreign language film as selected by an overly politicized committee in every nation of the world." (He also describes the widespread presumption that "Amour" is going to win an "inexplicable manifest avalanche.") [LA Times

Michael Haneke has withdrawn "Amour" from contention at the Austrian Film Awards: it was already ineligible in several categories, and he claims he wants other filmmakers to have a greater chance of being recognized. [The Guardian]

Steve Pond claims Sally Field's "killer speech" at the Palm Springs festival awards gala could help her challenge Anne Hathaway for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. [The Wrap]

Andrew O'Hehir, who's been on great form lately, evaluates "Lincoln" and "Django Unchained" relative to the "new Civil War" he claims is erupting in the US. [Salon]

Anne Thompson talks to composer Thomas Newman: as "Skyfall" gathers momentum, could he nab his 11th Oscar nomination? [Thompson on Hollywood]

Following last year's triumph with "The Artist," the French continue to have a significant presence in this year's awards season. Scott Feinberg discusses. [Hollywood Reporter]

Geoffrey Macnab examines just how important awards attention is for documentaries still seeking an audience. [Screen Daily]

Tom Stempel evaluates "Lincoln," "Flight," "Skyfall" and indie outsider "Middle of Nowhere" from a screenwriting perspective. [The House Next Door]

Nathaniel Rogers considers the waterlogged narratives of many of this year's Oscar contenders, culminating in a discussion of two Scandinavian maritime tales in the running for Best Foreign Language Film. [The Film Experience]

Here's a connection few have picked up on: Baltasar Kormakur, the Icelanic director of one of those films, "The Deep," also helmed last year's Mark Wahlberg thriller "Contraband" (itself a remake of an Icelandic thriller Kormakur produced). [The Carpetbagger]