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

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 8, 2012 at 5:22PM

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

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?

Bradley Cooper in 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Bradley Cooper in 'Silver Linings Playbook'

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.

"The Life of Pi"
"The Life of Pi"

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."

This article is related to: Oscars, Awards, Awards, Academy Awards


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.