Good Morning Oscar, January 6: Shortlisted & Cemented

Robert Duvall is handprinted at the Chinese, and “The Last Airbender” loses its last chance for Oscar recognition

Robert Duvall is handprinted, and "The Last Airbender" loses its last chance for Oscar recognition.

Sorry, "Chronicles of Narnia" and "Clash of the Titans" and "The Last Airbender" and "Prince of Persia" – Oscar's visual effects branch has spoken and you didn’t make the cut. The Academy on Wednesday trimmed its 15 contenders in the Best Visual Effects category down to seven, and those four were left out, along with "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," "Shutter Island, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Unstoppable." What left to compete for five slots are the favorites, "Alice in Wonderland" and "Inception" and "Tron: Legacy," along with strong contenders "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and "Iron Man 2" and dark horses "Hereafter" (presumably for its tsunami sequence) and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."  A January 20 event made up of 15-minute presentations of clips from the shortlisted films will narrow the contenders down to five nominees. (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

Robert DuvallKris Tapley knows an awards-related promotional event when he sees one, and he saw one on Wednesday with Robert Duvall's hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theater. But he didn't mind – and neither did I, or the passel of Oscar bloggers invited to the ceremony, and to lunch on what turned out to be Duvall's 80th birthday. "A bubble-contending Best Actor hopeful (for 'Get Low') is a great cause," says Tapley, who recaps "a lovely afternoon": the jokes from emcee James Caan, the banter with director Scott Cooper, the birthday cake … And if it all took place in front of a couple of posters advertising "Get Low," there's not a damn thing wrong with that. (In Contention)

Anne Thompson reports on the Duvall ceremony as well, and includes photos: Billy Bob Thornton, Sony Classics chiefs Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, and the birthday boy himself. But I have to make one correction to her recollection of what Duvall said Wilford Brimley told him when he told Brimley he was dating a much younger woman (who he has since married): "There's nothing worse in the world for an old man," Brimley actually said, "than an old woman." (Thompson on Hollywood)

Want to advertise on this year's Oscar show? It'll cost you. That's always true, but the big news is that it’ll cost you more than it cost you last year: Brian Steinberg says that for the first time in a couple of years, the asking price of a 30-second spot on the telecast has risen slightly, to $1.7 million. (The past two years, he says, ads have gone for between $1.3 and $1.5 million.) He attributes the increase to the ratings boost enjoyed by last year's show, and attributes that ratings boost to the Academy's move to expand the Best Picture race to 10 nominees. (Ad Age)

Has there been a smoother Oscar campaign this year … than the one Sony has run for 'The Social Network'?" Kyle Buchanan asks the question, but he knows the answer: no. His reasoning: "There's been a significant new talking point each week since its fall debut, each player has gotten his moment in the sun, potential controversies have been neatly nipped in the bud, and now, riding a wave of critical adoration, the studio has decided to rerelease the film into 600 theaters on January 7." Of course, the smoothness of the campaign is irrelevant unless it actually results in a win, right?  (Vulture)