The best Oscar-related piece on the internet comes from Salon critic Andrew O'Hehir, who examines our fascination with the awards, as as we concede that they mean little in the grand scheme of things: "The Oscar race has things to teach us, every single year; but on the other hand, the manufactured narrative that gets spun out of it is almost entirely devoid of meaning ... like electoral politics with the ideology shoved under the carpet." The difference this year, he says, is that neither of this year's two apparent race-leaders fit the usual Oscar formula: "12 Years a Slave" is a "valuable historical corrective" and "formally audacious," while "Gravity" "may have too much catharsis ... a remake of Kubrick’s '2001' made by HAL." [Salon]

An excellent piece by Justin Chang on the balance of brutality and spirituality in "12 Years a Slave" (for consumption only after seeing the film). [Variety]  

Richard Brody, meanwhile, debates the rights and wrongs of depicting slavery on screen at all. [New Yorker]

Robert Downey, Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence lead Vulture's Most Valuable Stars list. [Vulture]

Sean Fennessey on the improbable coolness of Best Supporting Actor contender Jared Leto. [Grantland]

15 foreign-language contenders are included in the lineup for AFI Fest. [LA Times]

Christopher Kelly on the Austin Film Festival, where the screenwriter is star. [New York Times]

Matt Noble considers the posthumous award prospects for James Gandolfini in "Enough Said." [Gold Derby]

Tom Tykwer is the latest film director to move to TV. [Screen Daily

Confessions of a serial watcher: why some of us can watch films up to 20 times, and not even ones we love. [The Guardian]