This week’s entertainment buzz

81st Academy Awards Presentations, Kodak Theater, Hollywood, 2009

For meteorologists this is Winter; for people in the entertainment business it’s Awards Season.

This morning via twitter, the New York Film Critics Circle announced the winners for their awards. “Zero Dark Thirty” got some top honors: it was named Best Film, Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director and Greig Fraser was named Best Cinematographer. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” got some love from the critics: Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field won for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress as did Tony Kushner for Best Screenplay. The Awards for Foreign film and Animation went to “Amour” and “Frankenweenie” respectively. And “The Central Park Five” won for Best Documentary.

Last week the non-profit organization Film Independent announced the nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards, which will be handed out in late February. These honors go to films made outside the studio system for budgets of around $20 million or less. The two films with the most nominations this year are the David O. Russell movie “Silver Linings Playbook” and Wes Anderson’s film “Moonrise Kingdom.” “The Beasts of the Southern Wild” by Benh Zeitlin got three nominations. All of those films are in contention for Best Feature.

And as members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences work to watch all the films (either via special screenings or DVD screeners) to possibly get nominated this year, the Academy’s Documentary Branch released the shortlist for best documentary features. Notable omissions were Lauren Greenfield’s “Queen of Versailles.” (note: Ken and Sarah Burns’ film “The Central Park Five” was not eligible this year because of its release date.)

Of the below 15 titles, 5 will get the final nominations.

This is from the Academy press release: The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” Never Sorry LLC
“Bully,” The Bully Project LLC
“Chasing Ice,” Exposure
“Detropia,” Loki Films
“Ethel,” Moxie Firecracker Films
“5 Broken Cameras,” Guy DVD Films
“The Gatekeepers,” Les Films du Poisson, Dror Moreh Productions, Cinephil
“The House I Live In,” Charlotte Street Films, LLC
“How to Survive a Plague,” How to Survive a Plague LLC
“The Imposter,” Imposter Pictures Ltd.
“The Invisible War,” Chain Camera Pictures
“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” Jigsaw Productions in association with Wider Film Projects and Below the Radar Films
“Searching for Sugar Man,” Red Box Films
“This Is Not a Film,” Wide Management
“The Waiting Room,” Open’hood, Inc.

Sundance on the Horizon

The Sundance Film Festival will take place in Park City Utah January 17- 27, 2013. It continues to be one of the premiere festivals of the year where networking abounds, careers are made and the art of cinema is on display  In recent days, Director of Programming Trevor Groth and Festival Director John Cooper have released news of their creative efforts organizing the festival and that took a lot of work. They received over 12,000 this year which according John Coooper indicates that independent film is “thriving.” Of that, they chose 113 features from 32 countries. The list includes 51 first-time filmmakers.

For the competition section, they’ve chosen 16 feature films and of those a solid 50 percent are helmed by female filmmakers. This is a first for a festival that’s championed many women filmmakers over the years. But it’s particularly notable given that women are so underrepresented in the mainstream film and TV business as the annual report out of The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film reaffirmed this past August.

And for the feature narrative films and documentaries being shown out of competition, many have distributors attached and are using their premieres at the festival to generate word of mouth. Others hope to be picked up for distribution by the festival’s end. The much-anticipated Steve Jobs biopic: “jOBS” starring Ashton Kutcher as the mock-turtleneck clad mogul will close the festival.

You can find a full list of the Sundance lineup here.