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Oscar Index: Punditry Post-Mortem! Dancing With The Stars Of Academy Award Punditry

To quote Patton Oswalt from his great KFC Famous Bowls routine, “America has spoken,” and for Oscar pundits bemoaning Lincoln’s loss to Argo, this Oscars truly was a “failure pile in a sadness bowl”: A reported 40.3 million people tuned in to the Oscars telecast, making it the most-watched entertainment show in three years, Entertainment Weekly reports. (Suck it, Golden Globes.) more »

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Oscar Index: Anne Hathaway Is A Sure Bet For Sunday, But Jennifer Lawrence Shouldn't Get Cocky

The Oscar season enters its last weekend, but one suspects it is far from over. Even if Academy members ultimately hewed to tradition and voted Lincoln and Steven Spielberg Best Picture and Director, respectively — as is the customary coronation for films with the most Oscar nominations — this outlier season will be studied and debated. For at least days to come.

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OSCAR INDEX: Will Groundswell Of Academy 'Amour' For Emmanuelle Riva Lead To Best Actress Upset?

With less than two weeks before the Academy Awards, the Oscar conversation is veering from “What now?” to “What if?” Amid all the talk of frontrunners and inevitabilities, some pundits are pondering the inscrutable. What if Oscar voters suddenly ignore all that Argo mojo (which got a further boost last weekend with Best Picture and Best Director wins at the BAFTAs)? What if the Best Supporting Actress race isn’t fait accompli, but instead, as Roger Ebert observed, asserts, as in years past, its independence as the category “where the voters like to throw a curve ball?” What if a BAFTA win earned Emmanuelle Riva a little Oscar Amour? more »

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Oscar Index: Killing 'Lincoln' Is All The Rage As Academy Voting Begins

The mailing of the final Oscar ballots this week signals the final stage of what has been the most volatile and tumultuous Oscar race in years. Between the snubs and the snark (that Anne Hathaway spoof has topped 500,000 hits), this year’s races rival for drama Frank Fane’s ruthless pursuit of Best Actor in The Oscar. At this late date, several races are still very much up for grabs. Let’s go to the Gold Linings Playbook to see how the major Oscar categories are shaping up this week. more »

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OSCAR INDEX: J-'Argo'-naut! In Spite Of Academy Snub, Oscar Momentum Continues To Build For Ben Affleck's Picture

It’s one month before the Academy Awards: Do you know where your Oscar buzz is?  This week has been rife with distractions from the main event, including the Sundance Film Festival and the presidential inauguration, not to mention the public spectacle of admitted liar Lance Armstrong and online hoax victim Manti Te’o. And then there’s the little matter of new Academy rules that prohibit campaigning following the Oscar nominations. more »

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Oscar Index: Argo-Sell Yourself — It's Crunch Time, Nominees

“It just doesn't matter,” Bill Murray pep-talked to his misfit campers in Meatballs. You've got to think that Teams Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook similarly rallied the troops in the wake of Argo’s surprise Best Picture and Best Director wins at the Golden Globes. Go home, they might have said, it’s the Golden Globes. It just doesn’t matter.

Except that it does, contends In Contention’s Kris Tapley: “Anyone who dismissively calls it a non-issue doesn't get it. With six weeks, every little nuance and acceptance speech will be grist for the mill. It matters.”

That means that Tommy Lee Jones better start smiling, Golden Globe-winner Anne Hathaway better keep all her acceptance speeches as gracious and humble, and Jennifer Lawrence better recover from her rivals-slamming turn hosting Saturday Night Live.

But what matters more are the major Guild award ceremonies in the offing: The Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 26, the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 27, and the Director’s Guild Awards on Feb. 2. These should give a clearer picture of the Oscar race. Or not. A DGA award, one of the most reliable Oscar indicators, will come to naught should either Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow, neither nominated for an Oscar, win.

As Times-Picayune critic Mike Scott noted on NOLA.com, “Usually the Golden Globes at least do a little to clarify an Oscar race or two, but in what is shaping up to be a more difficult-than-usual year in which to predict the Oscar winners, Sunday's Globes only clouded things… many of the Oscar races would appear to be coin-flip races at this point.”

One thing is irrefutable after Sunday night: After Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s hosting triumph at the Globes, Seth MacFarlane needs to have better jokes than his Hitler gag on nomination morning.

Best Picture

No Best Picture-nominee had a better week than Argo with its seven Oscar nominations and Critics Choice and Golden Globe wins for Best Picture and Best Director. No Oscar nomination for Best Director; no problem. Writes Tom O’Neil on GoldDerby.com:

“There is a clairvoyant member of the academy's producers' branch whose judgment I've learned to trust through the years. He's never been wrong about Best Picture as far as I know, not even when Crash pulled off an upset over Brokeback Mountain. Now he's backing Argo and feels very strongly about it. Right after Oscar noms were announced and before Argo pulled off those jaw-droppers at the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes, he roared at me, ‘Mark my words, Argo is going to win the Oscar. I don't give a damn that Affleck isn't nominated for Best Director. That only makes me more hellbent to vote for his movie!"

But despite Argo being “back in the mix,” wrote Steven Zeitchik and Glenn Whipp in The Los Angeles Times, Lincoln, leading the pack with 12 nominations, remains the frontrunner.

Or not. Silver Linings Playbook, like Lincoln, had a disappointing night at the Globes, but it is the first film since Reds at the 1982 ceremony to have received nominations for Best Picture, Director, all four acting categories, and screenplay. Plus: “People love Silver Linings Playbook; they respect Zero Dark Thirty,” write Michael Hogan and Christopher Hogan for their For Your Consideration blog on Huffington Post.

Silver Linings Playbook producer Harvey Weinstein catered an Italian lunch for members of the Hollywood Foreign Press, the New York Times reported. Lincoln director Steven Spielberg pulled off the coup of getting the services of “Hillary Clinton’s husband” to introduce his film at the Golden Globes. Advantage: Spielberg. Like Tapley said: It matters.

Meanwhile, Kathryn Bigelow, mired in the controversy surrounding her film’s depiction of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” gamely reiterated her “depiction is not endorsement” line of defense in a self-penned article in Wednesday’s The Los Angeles Times.

1. Lincoln
2. Silver Linings Playbook
3. Argo
4. Zero Dark Thirty
5. Life of Pi
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
7. Les Miserables
8. Amour
9. Django Unchained

Best Director

With Affleck and Bigelow out of the Best Director race, Spielberg's chances for a third Academy Award for Best Director are looking good, unless David O. Russell benefits from all that Academy love for Silver Linings Playbook. But don’t count out Ang Lee, noted Anne Thompson on her Thompson on Hollywood blog:

“Lee survived the brutal directors derby that left Kathyrn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper hanging, and he commands serious respect inside the Academy, which gave him the Oscar for Brokeback Mountain. Remember, these 5700 voters are people who know what goes into making movies and this gorgeously executed heart-tugger with worldwide appeal ($400 million and counting) had a high degree of difficulty.”

1.Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
2. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
3. Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
4. Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
5. Michael Haneke (Amour)

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Oscar Index: Day-Lewis, Chastain, Jones & Hathaway Lead In Final Stretch

The big winner when the Oscar nominations were announced Thursday might have been not the nominees themselves, but venerable Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman, who once famously proclaimed about Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” Not even the canniest Oscar pundit or deeply embedded Hollywood insider could have predicted that three of the Director’s Guild of America nominees—two of them perceived front-runners—would not get an Oscar nomination. more »

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Oscar Index: Jennifer Lawrence Is The Best Actress To Beat

This is getting exciting — not so much the Oscar race; but the recent spate of news about the Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 24. Things are shaping up for a evening that may be  less cringe-worthy than usual and that could improve on last year’s slight ratings boost. You’ve got Adele to perform  Skyfall"  you’ve got the 50th anniversary James Bond tribute, and now comes confirmation that Barbra Streisand will perform for the first time in 36 years. (Just please, God, not with Seth MacFarlane.)  Plus, the “In Memorium” segment should feature some especially beloved character actors (Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Klugman). more »

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Oscar Index: PGA Propellant And The N-Word (Nominations!) For 'Django Unchained'

After a momentary holiday lull, it’s back on! Or as Calvin Candie says in Django Unchained. "We got us a fight going on that's a good bit of fun." Academy voters were given one extra day to mull over their Oscar nomination ballots, thanks to a voting deadline extension necessitated by complaints and concerns over the Academy’s first-ever electronic voting system. They could use that 24 hours to digest the Producers Guild Award nominations, which were announced Wednesday, a day early.

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Oscar Index: Critics Have 'Amour' For 'Zero Dark Thirty' & 'The Master,' But Who's 'Les Miserables' This Christmas?

Academy ballots were mailed out last week to 5,586 voting members, the most significant news on the Oscar front. Not that it was a quiet week in Lake Globesbegone. The New York Times’ critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis both named Amour 2012’s best film, as did the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan. The AP triumvirate of Christy Lemire, David Germain and Jake Coyle anointed Argo, Moonrise Kingdom and Amour, respectively.
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Oscar Index: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Caught In The Cross-Hairs

The Oscar Index’s head is spinning. What critics organization didn’t announce their nominees or award-winners this week? On Thursday it was the Golden Globes, on Wednesday the SAGs, and Monday the AFI and BFCA. The Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, St. Louis and Washington critics associations also weighed in with their picks.

But critics don’t vote for the Academy Awards, so much of this will have little bearing on who will be nominated for an Academy Award; not Lincoln’s seven Golden Globe nominations, not Dwight Henry’s Best Supporting Actor win from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Beasts of the Southern Wild, and not the Washington D.C. Film Critics Association’s pick of Zero Dark Thirty as the year’s best film.
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Oscar Index: 'Zero Dark' Domination & McConaughey's 'Magic' Moves

Welcome back to the Gold Linings Playbook, otherwise known as the Oscar Index, in which we take the pulse of the pundits handicapping this year’s emerging Oscar class!

Oscar handicapping began in earnest this week with The New York Film Critics Circle’s selection of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty as Best Picture, adding further speculation that the hunt for Bin Laden drama may steal some of Ben Affleck’s Argo’s thunder. In the past decade, four of the NYFCC’s Best Picture winners have gone on to win the Academy Award: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; No Country for Old Men; The Hurt Locker, and The Artist.
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Oscar Index: Everything's 'Dark' And 'Miserables,' Until We Get 'Unchained'

Welcome back to Movieline's Oscar Index, where each week we take the pulse of the awards chatter en route to Hollywood's big day. This week both Tom Hooper's Les Miserables and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty surged through the ranks after debuting in their first, successful, awards screenings, though Spielberg's Lincoln still reigns supreme — but Peter Jackson's 48fps gamble The Hobbit and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained are right around the corner, gunning for the spotlight...
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2013 Oscar Predictions: Oscar Index Evaluates The Best Director Race

You're done gorging on turkey, which means only one thing: 'Tis the season to be stuffed with Oscar punditry. Movieline's Institute For the Advanced Study of Kudos Forensics has awoken from its L-Tryptophan slumber to provide you with our latest Oscar Index, which evaluates the contenders for Best Director. The latest Index on Best Picture can be found here, and over the course of the next week, we'll be weighing in on the Best Actor, Actress and Support Actor and Actress races. more »

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Glimmers Of Gold: Let The Oscar Index Begin!

If you haven't noticed, there's a fierce battle being fought out there for the right to heft a gold statuette at the Dolby Theater on Feb. 24 and forget to thank some vital member of your family.  And though more than a half dozen pictures and performances that the blogosphere is touting as Oscar-worthy have yet to be seen by the public (and, in some cases, the very bloggers who are touting them), the virtual home office at Movieline has decided it's time to throw open the doors to the Institute For the Advanced Study of Kudos Forensics and start up the Oscar Index. more »