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.

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Ang Lee on Nightline

98 Comments

  1. danemychal
    December 26, 2012

    I’ve been saying for a long time that Pi is out of the major races. People are not talking about it at all, and it’s been lost amongst stronger contenders. Word-of-mouth is not carrying the film far when it SHOULD BE. Feels like a lock for VFX and Cinematography noms. Lee was never in my 5 for Best Director but could still get it based on making a great movie out of impossible source material. This is a year in which actors films are going to dominate the season. Life of Pi has none of that going for it at all. There’s only room for one movie like that to be a genuine contender and that’s going to be ZDT. With up to 10 BP noms, Pi should still get the 5%. But that’s not a guarantee.

  2. Edkargir
    December 26, 2012

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    Neither les miz or pi should be nominated for best picture or director

  3. December 26, 2012

    I haven’t lost faith in Life of Pi. When the critics groups started announcing, it wasn’t showing up, but then began putting in appearances. Since then, it has been hitting all the major markers it requires – nominations from the HFPA and BFCA, for example. But, in the UK, it’s tough to gauge buzz, as campaigns don’t run over here.

  4. Kane
    December 26, 2012

    Sasha, do you think PTA is really out of the director category? I know he’s a slight longshot but with the critics love the last week or so I thought he’d be back in the conversation.

  5. Akumax
    December 26, 2012

    Life of Pi is a masterpiece and if DGA and Oscar for best director aren’t a joke (I’m sure they are not) Ang Lee will be in for the Best Achievement in Directing. Last year I didn’t doubt for a moment that Terrence Malick would be in for for both director and best picture with his The tree of Life. campaigning is a big part of the game but there are films that are just undeniably great.

    I also think that Life of Pi is one of the most uplifting, if not the most uplifting, film in the race this year and a lot of academy members are going to like that.

  6. steve50
    December 26, 2012

    I hope you’re wrong, Sasha, but PI getting shoved out wouldn’t surprise me, either. I’m hoping there are enough voters who see its value over a few of the other noisemakers that have been released recently.

  7. December 26, 2012

    Doesn’t surprise me. Ang Lee’s chances have been seeming shaky these last couple days. I’m sure it will still get in for BP though ala Hugo.

    People really like to underestimate Tom Hooper.

    P.S. Do I need a new plug-in to properly view Edgarkir’s post?

  8. December 26, 2012

    there are films that are just undeniably great

    And most of them are snubbed from the Oscar race every year. Never a good enough argument.

    Ang Lee’s chances have been seeming shaky these last couple days. I’m sure it will still get in for BP though ala Hugo.

    These last couple of days? What, since the Online Film Critics Society’s nominations? The OFCS has little influence on the trajectory of the race. Other than that, there’s been nothing else these past couple of days. And Hugo was in a much stronger position the whole way through the race than Life of Pi either has been or shall be from here on out.

  9. Pj
    December 26, 2012

    I have mixed feelings about Pi’s chances. I did not like it so much when I first left theater but it had strong themes that kept me thinking. As I thought about it more, the more I grew to like it. I thought it could light up debates like what is happening with ZDT but it never happened.

    I think even worse then losing critical support during awards was losing support from actors at SAG. Sure, Shurma did not have much chance to begin with but maybe Fox could have committed category fraud and tried to campaign him in the weaker supporting actor race. While that may not have fixed everything it might have kept them in conversation for longer once other films got released. Meh, but with strong release of Django and Les Mis, that ship has sailed.

  10. Jerry Grant
    December 26, 2012

    Sadly, I think you may be right, Sasha.

    In such a tough year for the directing category, I have to base my predictions on what *movie* is most well-liked, rather than which director. After all, they are all (Hooper, Lee, Russell, Tarantino) such strong directorial achievements. So I am predicting the two directors will get in who have the most well-liked movies. Those will be:

    Tom Hooper
    David O. Russell

    alongside

    Ben Affleck
    Kathryn Bigelow
    Steven Spielberg

    Sorry Ang Lee and Quentin Tarantino (two of my favorites)–any other year!!!

  11. JP
    December 26, 2012

    Sadly, I thought Pi was overrated. But I prefer not to talk much about it. It’s not exactly my cup.

    I sincerely think it’s out of the main categories but BP. I think QT, O. Russell and Hooper fight for the two spot. The Master needed a weaker year and it’s under radar… it will still get BP nom for me but…

    In my opinion, The Perks of Being a Wallflower should and will be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay over Pi and Les Mis. I’d give the last spot to BOTSW and I think the Academy will do so.

  12. Sasha Stone
    December 26, 2012

    Certainly possible, Jerry, but I am not sure about Hooper at the Oscars. Perhaps yes at the DGA but this is such a weird year because Oscar ballots are turned in before DGA announces. I am not sure the smallish body of directors are going to go for Hooper. I think it’s (as I’ve said)

    Spielberg
    Bigelow
    Affleck

    Then:
    Lee
    Tarantino

    Maybe for DGA:
    Spielberg
    Bigelow
    Affleck
    Hooper
    Tarantino

  13. phantom
    December 26, 2012

    I consider Lee top4, but I also have a feeling he could be snubbed in the end. On paper it looks like Spielberg-Bigelow-Affleck-Lee and then someone from the Tarantino-Hooper-Russell trio, but frankly I could easily see the Spielberg-Bigelow-Affleck-Tarantino-Hooper quintet make it in the end and also wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Paul Thomas Anderson or Michael Haneke sneak in.

    And what really makes this season very interesting, that we won’t even have the proper ‘clues’ (DGA top5, surprise BAFTA acting nominees) until the very last minute (January 8-9, and then Oscar nominations on January 10).

  14. Aaron
    December 26, 2012

    I would not count out Michael Haneke or Paul Thomas Anderson just yet. I doubt both of them can make it, but oftentimes the Academy Director’s branch will throw in an auteur if they are well-respected and their film compels them (aka Almodovar, Greengrass, Malick, etc). I am not sold on Hooper yet…although his film has its passionate fans, the common criticism seems to revolve around his direction. I would say Russell is more likely than him. Other than Spielberg, Bigelow, and Affleck I think the last two spots will be a bloodbath between Hooper, Russell, Lee, Anderson, and Haneke.

  15. Aaron
    December 26, 2012

    Also Tarantino is very possible as well. Forgot to include him.

  16. steve50
    December 26, 2012

    I can definitely see phantom’s “Spielberg-Bigelow-Affleck-Tarantino-Hooper” line-up for Oscar.

    PTA, Lee, et al, will have to be happy with where they land in cinema history (and at least three of the names above will place well behind them when actual 2012 legacy is sorted out).

    It’s just Oscar, as usual.

  17. PaulH
    December 26, 2012

    Life of Pi had no freakin’ business being in any major Oscar race. It was the only film more indecipherable than Cloud Atlas.

  18. December 26, 2012

    Financially speaking what would be the motivation to push it? If the film isn’t going to win Best Picture and Lee is almost definitely not going to win another Best Director Oscar without a BP, then why spend the money? Do the studios really care about just being nominated? Pundits have been calling it a two-way or three-way race for a long time and PI never seems to be one of the 2/3. So otherwise they can probably cruise into a few nominations on fumes. Maybe that’s enough for them.

  19. December 26, 2012

    More indecipherable than Cloud Atlas? This claim is the only thing I find at all indecipherable here. What didn’t you understand, PaulH? Not enough explosions? I guess not everyone can be expected to stay alert when there aren’t any superheroes on the screen.

  20. Duke
    December 26, 2012

    Here’s my predictions:

    Kathryn Bigelow
    Steven Spielberg
    Ben Affleck
    Quentin Tarantino
    Paul Thomas Anderson

  21. brian
    December 26, 2012

    @akumax
    Life of Pi was a wonderful, uplifting movie for many people. On the other hand, there are also many people who find the the strong religious overtones present in the movie to be off-putting and somewhat comical. Surely there are people who found Life of Pi to be an uplifting movie experience irregardless of whether they believe in God or not. However, I’d bet that group made up a rather small percentage of the people who actually went to see the movie.

    Being that I’m not religious, I have no desire to see the movie as I know I’d end up laughing out loud at scenes intended to be serious. I’m just not sure in this day and age that a movie with strong religious messages can win an oscar.

    My guess is that the fate of Life of Pi depends on what percentage of the Academy go to church on a regular basis.

  22. December 26, 2012

    Being that I’m not religious, I have no desire to see the movie as I know I’d end up laughing out loud at scenes intended to be serious.

    I don’t think you will. The film is more spiritual than religious. It presents arguments for religion, religious belief, spiritual awareness, but doesn’t argue for them. It asks questions for which there are no answers, and questions for which it seeks answers in religion. It’s not that it necessarily finds them, more that it provides the apparatus for us viewers to find them, should we desire to do so. And if we don’t, these questions are perhaps only of even more interest.

    I’m not religious either, not even remotely, and I never have been.

  23. Jerry Grant
    December 26, 2012

    I think the movie’s greatest strength is its portrayal of brute unforgiving nature. There are questions about religion, and about spirituality, but the boy’s father’s argument that there is no God and “the tiger is just a vicious creature” is certainly vindicated in many ways. That is, one of the movie’s greatest strengths is its ability to hypothesize the spiritual while showing the natural world as it often is–cruel, strange, unforgiving. The movie doesn’t dumb down big questions. That is very rare in big Hollywood movies. Atheist (like me) or otherwise, go see it.

  24. December 26, 2012

    Everything Jerry just said.

  25. Eric S.
    December 26, 2012

    PTA has no chance. None. The LAFCA best director hasn’t received an Oscar nom the last 22 years in a row. And The Tree of Life’s dreadful box office also kept it from getting Best Pic/Best Director noms last year as well.

  26. Sally
    December 26, 2012

    I’m surprised no one is mentioning Robert Zemeckis and Bret Ziehlin(?) for Beasts. I don’t think Tarantino is going to get a nom for Director…maybe his actors will get noms….but I think the Academy has been down that QT road before and they will over look him again.

  27. December 26, 2012

    Life of Pi and Lee, obviously, are IN.
    Certain as the sun rising in the East…

  28. Jerry
    December 26, 2012

    I think it’s shaky if Pi will make BP but I believe 100% Ang Lee will make the BD lineup. It’s a directors movie, a wonderful adaption of a tricky novel. I don’t think Hooper will make it, just go see Les Miz if you are doubtful. The performancers saved that movie. So I’m going with:

    Bigelow
    Affleck
    Spielberg
    Lee
    Tarantino or Russell

  29. December 26, 2012

    And if there’s justice and brain at Oscars this year, PTA is IN too.

  30. December 26, 2012

    Best Ditector?

    Affleck
    Lee
    PTA
    Spielberg
    Bigelow

  31. December 26, 2012

    Eric, what? The LAFCA Best Director HAS received an Oscar nom every one of the last 22 years. And what’s that about The Tree of Life not being nominated for Best Picture or Director last year? They were!

    You need a lie down.

  32. Chris138
    December 26, 2012

    Paul Thomas Anderson is going to get the fifth director slot (I’m looking at his LA critics win for proof) and I feel that Tom Hooper won’t get in.

  33. phantom
    December 26, 2012

    Paul Thomas Anderson’s biggest obstacle might be what has been widely considered his greatest advantage : The Weinstein Company. Now that Django Unchained turned into a critically acclaimed Box Office hit, Harvey has not one, but two (!) more likely BP/BD contenders than The Master/PTA, so unfortunately I think he will probably jump ship and put all his campaign-muscle behind the crowdpleaser (Silver Linings Playbook) and the smash hit (Django Unchained). Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Django emerged as a viable threat for BP/BD during the Guild-phase.

  34. December 26, 2012

    Let’s speak openly… PTA is an author. He’s a genious… since Magnolia he made himself an imortal author. Maybr the youngest in Hollywood in all times.
    Really shame if Academy let PTA out!

  35. steve50
    December 26, 2012

    “My guess is that the fate of Life of Pi depends on what percentage of the Academy go to church on a regular basis.”

    By no means, Brian. Life of Pi has absolutely nothing to do with “church”. See it and you will understand – and I’ll bet you enjoy it.

  36. December 26, 2012

    Remember that Life of Pi was considered an “unmake-able” film? Well Ang Lee did it and did it well. Hopefully it is getting enough attention from the critics awards to get a nomination. Pi is flawed, but satisfying enough to get a BP nom.

  37. December 26, 2012

    I didn’t like LIFE OF PI, but I have to agree with everyone here. It’s not a religious film. It’s probably more for the people who consider themselves “spiritual” but don’t prescribe* to a particular religion.

    *Is prescribe the right word? It looks funny.

  38. JP
    December 26, 2012

    @ Sally

    Zeitlin and Zemeckis are totally out of contention. Flight’s possibilities (haven’t seen the film) have been overrated thoughout the season. It always had a shot at only one nomination and it could easily miss this one to films that will likely get nominated in other categories also. Beasts would be more in contention in a weaker year. It’s a very small film in a very strong year for studio films. I still think it gets BP nomination but outside BP, only score and possibly script. They won’t nominate Wallis and two french, no matter how fantastic those 3 performances were. Best Actress won’t match 3/5 with the SAG. It’s 4/5 or 5/5. Chastain and Lawrence are locks, as probably are Cotillard and Watts, who is definitely more overdue than Chastain and Lawrence, but whose film doesn’t look like will score nominations in other categories despite deserving (the Visual Effects snub from the short list was ridiculous… The Impossible had one of the best uses of VE of the past few years), just like Flight.

    PTA is still in the running but his situation is tougher than Terrence Malick’s. Many people seem to see Malick as a god of a filmmaker. I’m not one of them. The images Malick films are amazing, one of the best I’ve ever seen, but his scripts… and his body of work is not impressive quantitatively or qualitatively compared to a Scorsese, a Spielberg or a Woody Allen. 69 years old and only 6 films released… and none of them gets close to a list of 50 greatest american films ever in my opinion. But he has this “god” thing that PTA doesn’t have although Malick has never made a movie close to the greatness of There Will Be Blood. And 2011 was a very very weak year for film. It was much easier for Tree of Life. I predict The Master for BP nom but not directing.

  39. Zach
    December 26, 2012

    David O. Russell does not deserve to be nominated this time. It was a screenwriter’s movie — if you even liked the script.

    The only two times in recent memory where the director of a little-comedy/dramedy-that-could were nominated — going as far back as Ghost in 1990 — are Jason Reitman for both Up in the Air and Juno. Really, UITA was one of the top contenders and not just a small movie like Little Miss Sunshine. Juno was the bigger surprise, but the unique direction enhanced the writing. I didn’t feel that with SLP.

    Let Hooper, Tarantino, and Lee fight for the two open spots. Whatever you think of the final product of Life of Pi, Lee deserves the spot as much as anyone else for doing as much as he did with such challenging source material. If Les Mis is disappointing, I guess Hooper has to go. Django is getting the reviews Les Mis isn’t, but the raves don’t feel unanimous either.

  40. Zach
    December 26, 2012

    But DGA will probably nominate Russell because they nominate the directors of every slight but Oscar-bound comedy, including the Little Miss Sunshine couple, but not, surprisingly, Reitman for Juno.

    Actually, it feels a bit like 2007 again, with star power in the race, except Affleck isn’t going the route of Penn.

  41. rufussondheim
    December 26, 2012

    Lee just got pushed out of my top 5.

  42. steve50
    December 26, 2012

    Well, I’m not abandoning the boat just yet. I can see it happening, for sure, but it won’t be a deserved omission.

    It’s extremely rare that my favorite film gets a BP nod and I’ve been lucky to have a horse in the final race the past two years, once as a frontrunner, but if it doesn’t happen, so be it.

  43. Bball_Jake
    December 26, 2012

    I thought this year would be better at the Oscars, but its starting to dissapoint me, because I already know what films are getting nominated. Life of Pi is overrated big time, yeah its a good movie, but if your going to nominate a more visual based movie, why not nominate The Hobbit which is more engaging, epic, and just better. And theyll probably be to snobbie to nominate the best film of the year that pleases the audience, The Dark Knight Rises, the Oscars turn away from films that please the audience and thats why the Oscars cant get a big audience.

  44. moviewatcher
    December 26, 2012

    “Let’s speak openly… PTA is an author. He’s a genious… since Magnolia he made himself an imortal author. Maybr the youngest in Hollywood in all times.
    Really shame if Academy let PTA out!”

    Fabinho: I wholeheartedly agree. PTA for the WIN!!!

  45. P
    December 26, 2012

    don’t really understand why everyone keeps citing this LAFCA Best Director statistic. Olivier Assayas never made it to the Academy lineup for Carlos. And PTA has waaay more of an uphill battle than any of the other directors who have one (save maybe Almodovar)

  46. Chris138
    December 26, 2012

    @P: Assayas is the one exception to the pattern in the last 23 years because Carlos was not eligible for Oscar consideration. If you notice at the Golden Globes it was nominated in the television/mini-series category, so that’s what it got recognition for.

  47. Daveylow
    December 26, 2012

    I don’t think Anderson or Russell deserve a nomination this year. I saw Life of Pi for the third time on Monday and it is certainly one of the best of the year.

  48. m1
    December 26, 2012

    I think David O. Russell is in. I saw the movie last night and it is very much an actor’s piece. Usually acting-driven movies get nominated for Director. I don’t see how anyone can’t predict him at this point.

  49. mileshigh
    December 26, 2012

    I’ve never considered ‘Pi’ in the Oscar race after I saw it. It looks great but felt empty. ‘MarigOLD Hotel’ is right up the Academy’s alley and I think has a better BP Oscar nod chance. The cast alone could rally the BAFTA voters.

  50. December 26, 2012

    moviewatcher,

    PTA is all this and much more! ;)

    He´s really a genious and a master!

    But his movies are not “easy entertainment” or ” happy escapism”.
    So…

  51. Sparks Meridian
    December 26, 2012

    Hooper is so overrated. It’s a miracle he won an Oscar for King’s Speech. So many are complaining about the way he’s shot Les Miz but King’s Speech was also terribly shot. Looked like a TV commercial with those silly off balance compositions. Guy has the worst eye.

    Bumble Ward. First heard about her in An Evening with Kevin Smith when he tells his Tim Burton story. “There is somebody on this planet named Bumble.” Kevin Smith on Bumble Ward

  52. Question Mark
    December 26, 2012

    I think Lee’s still getting nominated. As others have noted in this comments thread, the fact that Life Of Pi was seen as such an ‘unfilmable project’ makes Lee’s degree in difficulty that much higher, and his triumph in making such a wonderful film all the more impressive. I think his fellow directors will respect that and give him a nomination, plus it’s not like Lee hasn’t already been honoured by the Academy in the past.

    My picks for the final five are Spielberg, Bigelow, Affleck (the three locks) and then Lee and either Tarantino/Haneke/PTA for that fifth spot.

  53. Ted
    December 26, 2012

    It’s just like.. if Ang Lee isn’t nominated for such a grand achievement like LIFE OF PI, it will be a crime.

  54. Free
    December 26, 2012

    Just saw LES MISEABLES today, after seeing DJANGO the day before, and I’m pretty confident that, at least between the two of them, Tarantino is more likely than Hooper. In fact, take a look at the negative reviews for Les Mis, and there’s one constant in all of them: Hooper’s “curious” direction.

    I also think P.T. Anderson and Haneke (especially the latter) are very much in this. I realize that I may be in the minority here, but I found nothing particularly exemplary in Russell’s direction (I also didn’t think much of the film outside of Lawrence, and she got on my nerves at times, too).

    As of now, I think BIGELOW, SPIELBERG and AFFLECK are locks, and I think the other two slots will be between TARANTINO, LEE, HANEKE and ANDERSON. Despite the showing it’s gotten recently, I think The Master could still crack the Best Picture list, and I just don’t see that happening unless Anderson is in.

  55. Mac
    December 26, 2012

    It would be a shame if Life of Pi didn’t get a Best Director and Best Picture nod. The film is so well made. It’s amazing what Ang Lee is able to do. Most directors coast on the same old schtick and while Lee can seemingly tackle anything. If Hooper or Tarantino get in instead of Ang Lee, it will be a travesty.

  56. December 26, 2012

    Sparks Meridian,

    You made may day!
    Finally someone! :)

  57. Matt
    December 26, 2012

    I think The Master has a better shot at Best Director than Best Film, especially if there are fewer than 9 nominations. Still, I feel like this is such a competitive year and can see a scenario where Haneke, Russell or Hooper takes the spot over PTA. AMPAS PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG.

  58. André
    December 26, 2012

    Sadly, I don’t think it can win. However, if a film THIS good can’t even get nominated, it says a LOT about the awards process as a whole. Even if you don’t LIKE the film, its vision and directorial wonder can’t be denied. In fact, I was quite amazed by how artistically bold the film was for such a wide release (it had a blockbuster-level marketing campaign here in Brazil).

  59. Archie
    December 26, 2012

    Ang Lee is safe for an Oscar directing nod. In all honesty, he’s the fourth ‘LOCK’ in the director category followed by Spielberg, Affleck, and Bigelow. The fifth spot is the one being contested by Quarantino, Russell, and Hooper. PTA is a long shot. Haneke is a longer shot.

  60. Eric S.
    December 26, 2012

    Paddy, I’m being VERY sarcastic because EVERYONE assumes that The Master is DOA, just like they did The Tree of Life last year.

  61. Archie
    December 26, 2012

    Typo *Tarantino

  62. steve50
    December 26, 2012

    Have to add that the worst thing that can happen to a film at this stage is for people to stop talking about it. In light of all the conversations around the latest releases, thanks, Sasha, for jerking our chains with this post and reminding everyone of Life of Pi.

  63. Archie
    December 26, 2012

    I might add (and as mentioned in above post) Spielberg, Affleck, Bigelow, and Lee will be nominated as well for the DGA. These four locks will be the same as the Oscar. Possibly, they will only differentiate on the fifth spot otherwise it will be 5 for 5.

  64. Linc4jess
    December 26, 2012

    “Life of Pi” will get OSCAR nods but I am thinking it will probably be in the sixth spot if anything and possibly lower in the best pic race. I would personally place it about 7th on my list.

  65. Ina Hark
    December 26, 2012

    It doesn’t seem to me that its BP chances have changed. It was never going to be one of the top 5 if there were only 5: that’s been (alphabetically) Argo, Les Miz, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty for a month now, imo. But if there are at least seven BP noms it seems to me to have an excellent chance to get in. It’s not the type of film that ever wins BP.

    I thought the pacing was sluggish and was put off by the mushy spiritual pieties. However, the film looks fabulous and Lee may still have a chance at a Best Director slot. Les Miz has really wrong directorial choices throughout. It will certainly get a BP nom on the basis of people’s emotional attachment to the material but I would think someone would take Hooper’s slot in the Best Director contest.

  66. Jerry Grant
    December 26, 2012

    “The Master” is not equivalent to “The Tree of Life.”

    Yes, both beloved directors, yes both made challenging impressive films. But one film was a major disappointment to many fans of the director–”The Master”. As one critic called it, “the most impressive failure of the year.” I quite agree with that, and PTA is my favorite, and I think I saw it with a clear eye.

    Another difference: this is a far stronger movie year than last. PTA ain’t makin the cut.

  67. Chris138
    December 26, 2012

    I love Silver Linings Playbook but I don’t see Russell getting in at all. It’s an actors and writer’s movie, so he’ll get the nod for adapted screenplay. There’s nothing outstanding about the direction to warrant an Oscar nod, IMO.

    I still think PTA is getting in, he’s sort of like the Terrence Malick of this year with this. Admittedly, I think The Tree of Life is a far superior film to The Master, but I’m sure there are members of the directors branch who will go for it.

  68. Mattoc
    December 27, 2012

    Life of Pi will get a BP nom and so will Ang Lee. ZDT is out of the race for the win and may take Lincoln and Django with it. Not only is Pi in the race, it may go all the way.

  69. Barrintus
    December 27, 2012

    it did make Eberts top 10 so can’t be out for the count yet.

  70. mecid
    December 27, 2012

    sorry, it is off topic but brilliant article by A.O.Scott:

    ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ Shares Something With ‘Lincoln’:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/movies/awardsseason/beasts-of-the-southern-wild-shares-something-with-lincoln.html?ref=movies&_r=0

  71. Max G
    December 27, 2012

    Sorry, OT: Tom Brook from Talking Movies over at BBC puts Amour at his Number 1 spot. Followed by The Master and Argo.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-12853950

  72. steve50
    December 27, 2012

    This from Ebert’s top ten (probably the most glowing summation on his list):
    “Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ is a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery. Inspired by a worldwide best-seller that many readers must have assumed could not be filmed, it is a triumph over its difficulties. It is also a spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to ‘Life.’”

    Not out of the game yet.

  73. CB
    December 27, 2012

    I personally thought Life of Pi was drivel. I’m told the story will make me believe in God. This is the bookend. (And fortunately Pi is all *major* religions so we all get to feel unproselytized/represented.) Then we get a long, fairly empty narrative where a man with a kooky name floats around with a tiger (novelty!) with a kooky name. He hits ferret island, which we discover is an overly explained metaphor. Then his wife comes home.

    I haven’t read the book but man, this movie could’ve easily been a really good short film.

    As for comparing it to Cloud Atlas – I didn’t think that was undecipherable. I thought it was incredible that I could understand – and enjoy – 6 simultaneous analogous narratives. Love it or hate it, Cloud Atlas attempted and imo pulled off a narrative attempt undertaken almost never, in any medium. I’m sad but unsurprised it’s totally left off the Oscar list this year.

  74. Keil S.
    December 27, 2012

    I was right and am being proven right. The film is not what some claim it is OR want it to be. The end.

  75. CB
    December 27, 2012

    Keil, agreed. You hit it on the head – it’s not what they WANT it to be. But this is like so many films on here. Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, even Argo – people want greatness, and when something isn’t, they convince themselves it is.

  76. December 27, 2012

    It’s good to know that you know better, CB.

  77. CB
    December 27, 2012

    About Cloud Atlas? Whenever I meet someone who appreciates it, it’s a relief. Like when someone also enjoyed the Lost ending, while recognizing it for what it was. I don’t get why people have to be so disdainful of art – especially unabashed pop art – that takes risks, usually structural, that many people won’t ‘get’ or enjoy. I didn’t like Life of Pi because it actually took no risks. It’s a lot like Argo – it aims for a B+, achieves the B+, and gets an A from everyone, though I thought Argo was the more enjoyable and complex of the two.

  78. steve50
    December 27, 2012

    “Love it or hate it, Cloud Atlas attempted and imo pulled off a narrative attempt undertaken almost never, in any medium. I’m sad but unsurprised it’s totally left off the Oscar list this year.”

    I’m with you 100% on that, CB.

    (but not on Pi, unfortunately)

  79. CB
    December 27, 2012

    Steve50, glad to hear it. I think Cloud Atlas has legs and in ten years it – and Speed Racer – will be given their due.

    Glad you liked Pi – I wish I had. Hell, I wish I liked every movie I don’t like, it would make life much better.

  80. December 27, 2012

    I didn’t like Life of Pi because it actually took no risks. It’s a lot like Argo – it aims for a B+, achieves the B+, and gets an A from everyone, though I thought Argo was the more enjoyable and complex of the two.

    I agree. I don’t get why people convince themselves that movies are better than they are. I can only come up with peer pressure as an excuse. I never was susceptible to that.

  81. CB
    December 27, 2012

    I think it’s peer pressure and loving movies, then being afraid not to love the ones that are supposed to be good. It took me a week to realize The Master was a fake masterpiece, that it was an overly-considered, inorganic slice of pseudo-brilliance from a writer/director who has, in the past, demonstrated brilliance. Did it suck that PTA had failed, and done so in a very affected piece? Of course. But it didn’t diminish my appreciation for his earlier work, just like Life of Pi doesn’t make me love Brokeback Mountain any less.

    I was okay with Argo, despite its extreme logical fallacies, and the fact that it was written with the slogan ‘add as much suspense as possible on every page’ sitting above the screenwriter’s computer. But because it was directed by Ben Affleck – who I like as an actor, director, writer, and political player – people are going nuts over it.

    Beasts of the Southern Wild, I absolutely hated. It was a phony bastardization of third cinema who made black poverty and southern poor culture ‘precious and cute’ through some bullshit posing as magical realism, using every indie cliche in the book. People are going nuts over it.

    Basically, for so many movies – this year especially – the Emperor has new clothes.

  82. steve50
    December 27, 2012

    “I can only come up with peer pressure as an excuse.”

    Honey, I have no peers. *puff**puff*

  83. December 27, 2012

    LOL I’m up for that, Steve. That works!

    I was being sarcastic, CB. The lowest form of humour. I like it down here at the bottom.

  84. CB
    December 27, 2012

    Well I assumed you liked Life of Pi, having read your well-written review. Surprised you bought into its spiritual bunk, though.

    I’m an agnostic non-Christian and I really think making Pi a Jack-of-all-religions is total cop-out. I know it’s supposed to be ‘spiritual’, i.e. any path to God is fine, whatever. This movie has the depth of an Oprah special with the technical caliber of an Oscar movie.

  85. December 27, 2012

    I didn’t buy into it. I thought it was presented beautifully, and thoughtfully, and that it used it to good end. But it has very little to do with my beliefs, opinions or life.

  86. steve50
    December 27, 2012

    “I’m an agnostic non-Christian and I really think making Pi a Jack-of-all-religions is total cop-out.”

    While I would find it difficult to define my own beliefs by describing their relationship to accepted dogma (atheistic, agnostic, non-anything), I completely understand your reservations.

    I guess I saw the film a bit differently in that Pi, in the quest to satsify his curiosity, does sample a bit of everything at the spiritual buffet before the crisis hits, then realizes what he needs to survive he already has. Just my own take, which makes sense when I watched it again.

  87. sam
    December 27, 2012

    Tom Hooper should NOT get a nomination! Les Miz was saved by the material…the direction and particularly the editing, was appalling! If he gets in over Tarantino OR Ang Lee, something is terribly wrong! The director of The Impossible should be considered over Tom Hooper! He did a great job and the post production work on that film was spot on!

  88. Zach
    December 27, 2012

    “It’s a lot like Argo – it aims for a B+, achieves the B+, and gets an A from everyone, though I thought Argo was the more enjoyable and complex of the two.”

    This COMPLETELY sums up my opinion toward Argo, and I actually really like Argo and think it’s entirely worthy of the nominations for both Picture and Affleck. TBH, while it may be a strong year for studio contenders, there are very few films this year that I’ve found to be that great. I got a lot more out of Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Bridesmaids, and The Artist than pretty much every movie this year that I’ve seen so far, except for Lincoln.

    With that said, I disagree about Life of Pi. Pi, unlike Argo, was creatively ambitious — it had to be, with that source material. That doesn’t mean I think it’s better than Argo — no, most of the Oscar movies this year, including Pi, are all on par — but I didn’t feel like it was aiming for a B+ either. Argo, on the other hand, was an expertly rendered film of a subject that, while gripping, was never A-grade.

    I know it’s an exciting year for diverse studio contenders, but most of them are just good, not great. I know some people like critics and bloggers are in the business of sifting through films and anointing favorites and frontrunners, but really, 2012 was another pretty forgettable year for cinema.

  89. Unlikely hood
    December 28, 2012

    I’m not worried about Life of Pi getting a BP nod. There are enough people who love it. I was talking with one of them just the other day – he’s one of the head writers on Weeds, among many other things, and he said he normally votes for talkier films, but this year “Pi” was by far his favorite (he pooh-poohed Lincoln).

    But I never thought Lee would get BD. And no, us Oscar kvetchers don’t get to say that the Oscars hate him, because he *won* for CTHD and for BM. Knowing that they know that, I agree that likeliest to add to BAS are Hooper and Tarantino.

  90. Sammy
    December 28, 2012

    Do not underestimate PTA! The Master is gaining momentum lately and it seems that it will get a lot of nominations from the BAFTA including Best Film and Best Director. So I think PTA will make the cut pushing Ang Lee out of the window. Tom Hooper can also spring a nomination despite having no GG nod. So my prediction would be:

    Bigelow – favorite to win!
    Hooper
    Anderson
    Affleck
    Spielberg

  91. Linc4Jess
    December 28, 2012

    I am thinking that “Zero Dark Thirty” has fallen to the same status as “Argo” in the best picture race. A fictitious film based on true events that amounts to nothing more than a well executed suspenseful thriller.

  92. Ryan Booms
    December 29, 2012

    After reading the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I worry that people didn’t “get” Life of Pi. Though it has 89% positive ratings, few reviews applaud Life of Pi for its dissection of complex themes. Even Roger Ebert (despite a 4-star review) seems to think the movie is about a boy and a tiger. Not true. **SPOILERS** At its heart, the boy and the tiger is an allegory for Pi’s struggle to reconcile the tension between modernity, science, the natural (symbolized by Richard Parker) and tradition, religion, and the supernatural (symbolized by the boy). When Richard Parker jumps off the boat, the boy realizes he must let Richard Parker back on. Pi needs the Richard Parker half of himself to survive: he needs to kill the cook, he needs to eat the fish… Likewise, Richard Parker can’t consume the boy… remember, it is the boy who faces the storm with courage borrowed from the gods while the tiger cowers with fear. Indeed, Pi could not have survived with just a survival manual; no, he needed stories, too. He needed to look at the void of the ocean and see his whole universe, as Yashoda saw the universe while peering into Krishna’s mouth. Ultimately, we prefer the allegory with animals over the truth of human savagery. Such allegories comfort us. Richard Parker disappears into the jungle at the end of the movie, for humans do not want to think of themselves as violent beasts of nature. Does the alternative–tradition, religion, the supernatural–allow us to transcend our nature? I read a lot of comments on this thread about the need to be religious in order to embrace Life of Pi, but really, the movie does not endorse one religion over another. It’s a celebration (or is it an indictment?) of the power of storytelling in general.
    One more note: Few critics have commented on Surah Sharma, who IMHO tackled a more ambitious role than even Daniel Day-Lewis. The novel was believed to be unfilmable because it required casting an untrained Indian child actor to hold down the screen as a castaway… wait no, the allegorical half of a castaway (even Tom Hanks didn’t do that). And this actor must respond to a CGI tiger that is the allegorical other half of the castaway (which is basically like playing a character with dissociative identity disorder). Oh, and by the way, the screenplay includes no voiceover narration from the boy, so the actor needed to convey half of an internal struggle primarily through facial expressions and body language… Where is Sharma in the conversation for Best Actor?

  93. Ray Lyon
    January 1, 2013

    Life of Pi is critically acclaimed and made from a Booker prize winner in 2002, of the same pedigree as the Schindler’s list and the English patient. But like Moby Dick, with all the philosophical expositions, it is much more difficult to turn into a successful film that will appeal to a wide audience. Despite all the hurdles, as of 12/31/2012, its US box office is about $86 million, a respectable number, in line with the box office receipts of films made from previous Booker prize winners such as the Schindler’s list and the English patient. The film has also been seen by a large number of people worldwide, with a worldwide box office receipt of over $300 million after about a month. It is not only accomplished artistically, but it can also be entertaining for both adults and kids, because the film can be viewed at many levels of maturity. For those few critics, such as A.O. Scott of NYT, who say that the film and the book are cultish and vacuous, I would like to mention a line from the film, from Pi’s father, “What you see in the eyes of the tiger is only a reflection of yourself.” Since the film is a faithful adaption of a book that invites critical thinking, what one gets out of the film is dependent on what one puts in.

    If Les Mis. doesn’t get an Oscar nod for Best Director (which is likely, with the mixed reviews), if Argo, Lincoln, and ZDT are “locks” for Best Director nomination, and if Django Unchained instead of Silver Linings Playbook (both from Weinstein company) gets an Oscar nod for Best Director, Life of Pi may be the only top contender whose subject matter is not about a part of the U.S. history or politics. The scenario of Argo, Lincoln, ZDT, and Django Unchained all getting nominations for Best Director will only boost Pi’s chance of getting nomination for Best Director, partly because the Academy wants to be internationally relevant. In addition, Life of Pi has already gotten nominations for BP and BD from the Critics Choice and the Goldern Globes. Based on the factors mentioned above and the pattern of past Academy nominations, the chance of Life of Pi getting Oscar nominations for both Best Picture and Best Director is very high.

  94. Stephen Cross
    January 10, 2013

    NOPE! IT’S NOT!

  95. Quoc
    January 22, 2013

    CB: “I think Cloud Atlas has legs and in ten years it – and Speed Racer – will be given their due”

    Speed Racer is halfway to ten and it’s still a turd.

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