I have to say, Joaquin Phoenix deserves the Oscar for his interviews alone this season -- whether he likes it or not, he's swiftly shaping up as the most compelling human figure in this year's awards race, and I'm increasingly thinking his sheer unfiltered bolshiness could be more of a help than a hindrance to his reluctant Best Actor campaign. His latest refreshing dose of candor comes in a UK broadsheet interview, and is perhaps more endearing than his headline-making anti-awards rant. The choice quote: "I think the trouble is I'm not very good and I need a lot of help; I need the entire set to be working to help me." Keep going, sir. [The Independent

Anne Thompson previews the AFI Fest, which kicks off tonight with the world premiere of "Hitchcock." [Thompson on Hollywood]

After the film's commercial bellyflop in the States, "Cloud Atlas" producers are counting on the international market to help them save face. [Variety]

In spite of the box office grosses, meanwhile, R. Kurt Osenlund believes the film should still be taken seriously as a Best Picture contender. [The House Next Door]

Michael Cieply looks at "Quartet" and "A Late Quartet," two films linked by concerns of aging and classical music. (The same goes for "Amour," but that annoyingly doesn't have "Quartet" in the title.) [New York Times]

Oli Lyttelton looks at the screenplay races, and thinks Paul Thomas Anderson is well-positioned to become an Oscar winner even if "The Master" doesn't take off in a big way with the Academy. [The Playlist

Executive producer Guillermo Del Toro talks about fighting fear and cynicism in animated Oscar hopeful "Rise of the Guardians." [LA Times]

Jon Weisman condenses all the key awards dates over the next four months into one pretty cut-out-and-keep calendar. [The Vote]

With Halloween over, Nathaniel Rogers rounds up a month of his highly enjoyable Oscar Horrors series. [The Film Experience]

Finally, I saw a whole lot of Twitter folk going on about how William Friedkin's Criterion Top 10 was pretty great. I checked. It's pretty great. [Criterion]