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Being the first screener to land in Academy voters' mailboxes is a victory that sometimes brings more than just bragging rights -- especially for smaller films that might get lost in the crush later in the season. The early bird strategy has paid off handsomely for such performance-driven indies as "A Better Life" and "Frozen River" in the past, though it doesn't always get results: last year, TWC's "The Intouchables" didn't even wind up with a foreign-language nod. So, which screener was quickest on the draw this year? Jeff Nichols' coming-of-age tale "Mud" -- until recently, the year's highest-grossing art house release. Roadside Attractions are simplifying Matthew McConaughey's Best Actor drive for "Dallas Buyers Club" by running a supporting campaign for the star, who plays the title role. You can argue amongst yourselves about the rights or wrongs of that move, though the film's best shot at a nod is probably for Best Original Screenplay. Will being first pay off this year? [Deadline]
Inspired by Meritt Weaver, who won everyone's heart last night with her brevity at the Emmys, Lucy Kinder considers other great short speeches in history, from Joe Pesci to Abe Lincoln. [The Telegraph]
Nathaniel Rogers on why we need to stop griping over the foreign-language Oscar race, and let the movies be the chief reward. [The Film Experience]
British films took top honors at this year's Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, the winners of which now qualify for Oscar nominations. [Screen Daily]
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