There has already been a lot written about race in these initial stages of the Oscar season, and there will be plenty more to come -- even if early projections of an 80% black Best Actor field seem increasingly unlikely to pan out. Kia Makarechi writes that he's glad the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and Forest Whitaker are in the awards conversation, but believes the supposed diversity of this year's race is merely an illusion: "These roles have to be played by black actors ... we'll know when Hollywood casting directors and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences view people of color as deserving of equal opportunities to shine when a black man in the role of a fictional caring father, son, teacher, student, doctor, author or otherwise non-racially coded character is nominated for and wins Best Actor." [Huffington Post]

Darren Aronofsky gives it up for "Gravity." This is the kind of peer respect that'll get Alfonso Cuaron into the Best Director race. [Twitter]

Speaking of Aronofsky, this interview he's done with the newly re-energized Scarlett Johansson is a great read. [Interview]

Paramount has laid off 110 employees. Grim times. [Hollywood Reporter]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Don Jon" has been declared "racist" by the Italian American One Voice Coalition. [The Guardian]

A filmmaker believes that last year's limp Clint Eastwood vehicle "Trouble With the Curve" stole his idea. If it's any comfort, it wasn't a great idea. [Variety]

Tim Brayton wonders if there's any hope for an interesting Best Animated Feature race this year. [The Film Experience]

Is Oscar-buzzed hostage drama "Captain Phillips" this year's Oscar-buzzed hostage drama "Argo?" [Gold Derby

David Gordon Green talks about getting a "very exposed performance" out of Nicolas Cage in "Joe." [Screen Daily]

Finally, J.J. Abrams admits he may have been a little over-reliant on lens flares in the past. [Crave]