Helen Mirren

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By most estimations, Jennifer Lawrence has the Oscar race for Best Actress sewn up. The one-two punch of her work in Silver Linings Playbook, currently receiving very good reviews, and the $400 million she generated for the Hunger Games franchise, gives her the edge heading into the race.

But there are a few competing factors at play. The first, Jessica Chastain is about to hit with Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain carries the film. Unlike Lawrence, she isn’t “the girlfriend” but is the CIA agent obsessed with the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Imagine that, after all is said and done a woman gets to take credit for that? It is arguably among the best characters of the year.

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The year in film was already marked by Alfred Hitchcock as Vertigo at last topped Citizen Kane in the Sight & Sound poll. Vertigo had been slowly climbing its way to the top and this year it finally broke Kane’s 50-year reign at #1. As human nature dictates, the larger they loom, the harder they fall and it was inevitable that the arguments would begin about Vertigo’s worth.

Simultaneously, two films about Hitchcock were nearing completion. The Girl on HBO, starring Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitch, and Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi, starring Helen Mirren as Alma Reville and Anthony Hopkins as Hitch. Both of these films seemed to appear like bad tabloid stories designed to take Hitchcock down a notch or two, more than 30 years after his death. Thus, the perennial question arises once more about how to separate the man (or the woman) from the art.

Joe Queenan told NPR, while remembering an old quote, “Someone once said about Emily Dickinson: The correct way to approach Emily Dickinson is on your knees.”

The correct way to approach the work of Alfred Hitchcock is on your knees. Yet because our prurient interests in the private lives of our celebrities and politicians tends to override almost everything else, the Season of the Hitch has not been an occasion to appreciate the master’s work, as it should be; but rather, a time to put him on trial for alleged sexual harassment and whatever else writers and directors come up with that has nothing to do with his films.

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