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Is Life of Pi out of the Oscar Game?

Suddenly Team Life of Pi has gone very quiet and it makes me worry that someone high up on the food chain has dropped the ball.  Things looked sketchy for Life of Pi before it opened, but talented and quick thinking Bumble Ward made a few key moves early on to put a tourniquet on it.  She handpicked a few strong voices on the Oscar scene and showed them the movie early — most of them raved about it. It then showed at the NY Film Fest and had mixed responses.  The critics were mostly positive as well and the box office has been strong. Life of Pi also had a strong presence at the Golden Globes, earning a Director nod for the brilliant Ang Lee, along with Picture and Score.

The PR reps that I’ve spoken with have been doing great work as far as I can tell but something tells me someone at the top has lost faith in it.  This, because just before Oscar season Bumble Ward, to my mind responsible for turning Life of Pi’s Oscar fate around, was fired from Fox.  The whys of that one have yet to be made clear but that would be sort of like firing Michael Jordan heading into the playoffs.

Life of Pi is one of 2012’s best films and it would be nice if whomever runs publicity at Fox had more faith in it.   With ballots outstanding this is the moment to turn on the gas and yet I see far more of a passionate push for Les Miserables and Flight.   With seven names slated for Best Director slots, I currently have Ang Lee as one of those predicted five:

Steven Spielberg
Kathryn Bigelow
Ben Affleck

And then you have most likely:
David O. Russell or Ang Lee or both.

And then possibly:
Quentin Tarantino and/or Tom Hooper.

My predictions today would still be: Spielberg, Bigelow, Affleck, Russell, Lee.  I also think Tarantino can bump any of them.  And Tom Hooper might also.  Thus, those two slots for Best Director are up for grabs.  Ballots must be turned in by January 3, 2013.