- New York Times Magazine: Carlo Rotella profiles James Schamus, exploring his double life as a Columbia University professor and C.E.O. of Focus Features, and highlighting some of this year’s Oscar contenders that the “Professor of Micropopularity” has guided into the race, including “The American,” “The Kids Are All Right,” and “Somewhere.”
- The Race: Tim Appelo reveals why Sean Penn has abstained from campaigning for the film “Fair Game” — not to mention his own performance in it as former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson — this awards season: he and director Doug Liman clashed throughout the production, leading Penn to “boycott” any further involvement with the film.
- Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells writes that Natalie Portman’s work for/performance in “Black Swan” is “analogous” to Robert De Niro’s fabled work for/performance in “Raging Bull” (1980). He adds, Once this settles in among the rank-and-file, [the best actress race is] over.”
- In Contention: Guy Lodge reports that “The Social Network” has topped the 2010 list of critics’ favorites that is releases each year by the British magazine Sight & Sound, making it the first American film to earn that distinction in years. The only other films with awards potential that made the cut were “Another Year” (#3) and “Winter’s Bone” and “I Am Love” (tied for #6).
- The Odds: Steve Pond wonders if “Black Swan” and “The Fighter” — both of which are non-traditional and somewhat disturbing films — will register as “just too damn weird” for Academy voters.
- New York Times: Dennis Lim looks at the long and bumpy road that led up to last Friday’s release of Golden Globes hopeful “I Love You Phillip Morris,” which stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. As co-director Glenn Ficarra notes, “Who’s going to give us money to shoot a gay con-man prison-escape love story?”
- Hollywood-Elsewhere: Jeff Wells posts a photo of “Solitary Man”/“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” star Michael Douglas (who is recovering from throat cancer) and his family that was snapped last week at Orlando’s Epcot center. It’s great to see that the beloved actor is looking much better than he did in photos that paparazzi snapped and sold to tabloids several weeks ago!
- Thompson on Hollywood: Anne Thompson confirms that the opening night film at January’s 26th annual Santa Barbara International Film festival be Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s “Sarah’s Key,” which stars Kristin Scott Thomas and “has been stunning audiences” in Toronto, France, and Tokyo, where it has previously played.
- New York Times: Charles McGrath shares the story behind the film “Barney’s Version,” Richard J. Lewis’s adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s beloved book of the same title that was long thought to be “just about unfilmable,” but was ultimately made with Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti in the title role. (It “will play in New York and Los Angeles for one week starting December 3, in the hope, presumably, of snagging an Oscar nomination for Mr. Giamatti, who with the help of several wigs ages four decades in a little over two hours.”)
Photo: Paul Giamatti in “Barney’s Version.” Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.