We begin today's roundup with a happy confluence of Oscar contenders. It's hardly surprising that a writer as intelligent and politically conscientious as Tony Kushner would be swift to stand up for a fellow artist's freedom of expression -- but it's still heartening, amid the heat of the Oscar contest, to see the nominated "Lincoln" scribe making a small but significant gesture of support for rival Best Picture contender "Zero Dark Thirty." Kushner is one of 28 signatories, alongside the heavyweight likes of Alan Dershowitz, on a letter sent to all US Senators, protesting the statements made against the film by Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin. "History demonstrates, in particular the 1950s McCarthy period, that government officials should not employ their official status and power to attempt to censor, alter or pressure artists to change their expressions, believes, presentations of facts or political viewpoints," the letter says. [The Carpetbagger]

Dave McNary reports from Wednesday's Film Independent Director's Close-Up event for Ben Affleck. Nice to see him getting some attention at last. [Variety

The late Nora Ephron, a four-time WGA nominee, will receive a posthumous tribute at the Guild's awards ceremony this weekend. [Hollywood Reporter]

Ryan Gilbey thinks "Django Unchained" and "This is 40" are examples of why Hollywood sometimes needs to say no -- even to their A-list talent. [The Guardian]

David Poland talks to Oscar-nominated "Paperman" director John Kahrs. [Hot Blog]

David Fincher returns to his music video roots for Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie." [Slate]

Jack Egan believes this year's cinematography nominees prove we're in a golden age for the craft. I may agree about the golden age, but I don't think this Oscar crop really reflects it. {Below the Line]

The Variety team offer some points for voters to consider in 16 Oscar categories. [The Vote

Finally, nominees for the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards are out: the young folk are high on "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers," but "The Turin Horse" was pointedly snubbed. [USA Today