One of my favorite writers, Nick Davis, doesn't often do long-form work on the Oscars these days, so his piece in The Advocate on this year's unusually narrow Oscar field -- with just a dozen films taking all the slots for picture, director, acting and writing -- is a treat. The race has got harder, he says, for dark horses and discoveries. "If you’ve been paying any attention to TV spots or popular magazines since September, you’d already heard of every movie in every category where the victor speaks for more than 20 seconds ... In the top ranks, Oscar risks feeling gratuitous, furnishing extra hype to already well-hyped entertainments. If that’s all he’s good for, why not let him wander off into that Nebraskan good night?" Not that it's all bad news, he says: "Whenever Academy glory and global notice extend to an urgent, brilliantly filmed commemoration like 12 Years a Slave or to Her’s sly, searching meditation on what we mean by 'love,' an angel gets its wings."  [The Advocate]

Oli Lyttelton and Jessica Kiang rang every Best Picture winner in Oscar history from worst to best. Let the arguments begin. [The Playlist]

Joe Reid on how there could be an unprecedented degrees of crossover between the Spirit Awards and the Oscars this weekend, and why that's a bad thing. [The Wire]

Steve Pond offers a detailed behind-the-scenes guide to the Oscar ceremony. [The Wrap]

"12 Years a Slave" took top honors at the Screen Nation Awards, which honor diversity in film and TV. [Screen Daily]

Anna Smith on the minute detailing of WesWorld in "The Great Budapest Hotel." [The Guardian]

R. Kurt Osenlund and Kevin B. Lee have a lengthy back-and-forth about the actresses in this year's Oscar race. [Fandor]

Tim Gray on the politics of the In Memoriam montage, and the online petition requesting that recently killed crew member Sarah Jones be included. [Variety]

Danny Bowes on the state of the art of film criticism. [Indiewire]