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Oscar Watch: ‘Lincoln’ vs. ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Whither ‘Life of Pi’?

Oscar Watch: 'Lincoln' vs. 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Whither 'Life of Pi'?

The latest Gurus ‘O Gold vote is revealing. Now everyone has seen everything. And there is agreement on many fronts. As I suspected, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Life of Pi” are getting assaulted by the muscular Big Guns of December: “Les Miserables” and critics fave “Zero Dark Thirty”–not “The Hobbit” or “Django Unchained.” Something is not happening with Fox’s marketing of Ang Lee’s gorgeously produced “Pi,” which should be hitting the Academy’s sweet spot. Is it perceived as too mainstream, too family, too spiritual? Many people who have see it love it. Many others haven’t seen it at all. Or is Fox not behind it?

Check out where the chart starts to break up, in each of the categories. The top six movies are solid. But in the actor race, Joaquin Phoenix and NBR winner Bradley Cooper are losing ground. The actress race is all over the place, anything can happen as two French actresses duke it out for slots, NYFCC winner Rachel Weisz enters the fray, and Keira Knightley falls behind Naomi Watts and Quvenzhane Wallis, who are far from secure. Helen Mirren only got two votes.

In supporting actress, Anne Hathaway is ahead of locks Sally Field and Helen Hunt, with Amy Adams losing steam due to the perceived weakness of “The Master,” as Ann Dowd, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench come up from behind. (“Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Skyfall” are hugely popular with Academy members, as are these two Brit seniors.)  TWC has just bumped down Christoph Waltz to supporting actor, but Leonardo DiCaprio is getting the most Gurus support. I suspect that in the end Samuel L. Jackson will earn the rave reviews. They’re both brilliant, but he is commenting on his Uncle Tom character as he goes, the performance functions on two levels.

Among the directors, Tom Hooper, David O. Russell, Ang Lee and Michael Haneke are duking it out for the last two slots. Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg and Ben Affleck are locks.

On Sunday the LA Film Critics will either try to save struggling indies such as “The Master,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “Silver Linings Playbook” or find consensus, as New York did, with “Lincoln” or “Zero Dark Thirty.” (“Les Miserables” has passionate fans and foes alike.) I would not be surprised if they went for another critic’s fave, “Amour.”

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This really has been an Oscar season of movies you walk out of and think "It was good, but really? All that buzz for this?"


Of those films you mentioned here's how I personally break them down:

OVERRATED: Argo (it's O.K. but c'mon it's not all that. The Town and Gone Baby Gone were a lot better), Silver Linings Playbook (Good performances, but a VERY predictable script written on autopilot. You know what's going to happen long before it does. It's no Flirting with Disaster for sure) ) Life of Pi, The Sessions

Zero Dark Thirty – Well made but I found it cold and somewhat distant. maybe because the lead character is such a one dimensional cipher. the film it reminds me the most is Day of the Jackal. A long, methodical detective story but cold. Yet Zero and Jackal i could watch again and again

Lincoln – Really excellent. The most UNSpielberg-like film Spielberg has ever made

The Hobbit -Put me to sleep. When I woke up Christopher Lee was staring at me. And that 48 fps It's like watching a really big hi-def TV with the brightness level up to high. And what with the speeded up movements of people when they move across the screen? It's like a Benny Hill comedy skit. I kept playing theme music in my head

Django Unchained – LOVE IT ! I've been waiting for a film like this for 35 years. I have to se eit again. It's like going to see blaxplotation films when I was a kid. It's Slaughter's BigRip-Off, Blazing Saddles, Goodbye Uncle Tom and Mandingo all rolled into one. And DiCaprio is phenomenal in the films. His best performances in years. As well as being a honest and brutal examination of slavery. Not for the timid.

And by the way why is there no heat at all for Naomi Watts in The Impossible. When I saw it a few months ago i said she was a rock to get a nominations and even to win. Now it's as f she and film don't exist. Chastain will probably get it.

Keil S.

I doubt you even read these comments, but I simply have to reiterate my position that Life of Pi is NOT a genuine factor in this year's Oscar race. The film is simply not that great, and, as I said weeks ago, it does/will not have the box office legs needed to lift a mediocre movie to the forefront of this year's densely packed field. People need to try and stop jamming marshmallows into parking meters and concentrate on the truly stellar films that could use a push.

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