Jan 31, 2013

Welcome to the Mr-Potato-Head Oscars

From my Guardian column: — 
"Best Film / Best Director splits, which use to happen roughly once a decade, have happened four times since 1998. And while Best Actor / Actress used to follow Best Picture the majority of the time, in the last decade only three Best Picture winners — Million Dollar Baby, The Artist, and The King’s Speech — have generated heat for their lead actors. Increasingly, actors win awards for their work in small, low-budget indies in which they gnaw off their left leg. The last film to pull off a sweep of all top five categories — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress — was Silence of the Lambs, over 20 years ago. Increasingly, sweeps are the rarity, not splits. The academy has always liked to “spread the wealth,” but this is something different. It testifies to a much larger fragmentation that has to do with the way business is done in Hollywood.  In a nutshell, the global blockbuster economy has scooped out what remained of the American movie business, sending it to the hills, from which it makes the occasional darting foray, under cover of one of the studio’s specialty divisions, or some pocket money from HBO.   As Spielberg himself noted in 1997,
"It is getting to the point where only two kinds of movies are being made, the tent-pole summer or the Christmas hits or the sequels, and the audacious Gramercy, Fine Line or Miramax films. It’s kinda like India where there's an upper class and a poverty class and no middle class. Right now we are squeezing the middle class out of Hollywood and only allowing the $70 million plus films or the 10 million minus films." 
The middle-class he’s talking about is the same vegetable patch in which the Academy used to grew it’s prize pumpkins: — middle-brow, mid-budget, prestige pics like Driving Miss Daisy, Amadeus, and Dances With Wolves, Ghandi, and Out of Africa,  which  hymned the moral efficacy of a single individual against a  backdrop of historical turmoil.  It wasn’t quite a genre, but a style of filmmaking  — a plush, roseate humanism, with sunsets to match  — whose precedents stretched as far back as Lawrence of Arabia and Gone with the WindWell, that film is dead, and the Hollywood that made it long since vanished. As one Disney producer recently remarked, "Everything in the middle is toast." Look at the Oscar races of recent years and you’ll see the same pattern of blockbuster versus indie, big-budget versus small: Gladiator vs Traffic, Chicago vs The Pianist, Avatar vs The Hurt Locker, Hugo vs The Artist.  The “David vs Goliath” storyline has not become an Oscar season cliche by accident. In this near annual face-off, both nominees have something the other one wants or lacks. Goliath has the technical polish the effects, the box office, the gravitas. David frequently has the acting chops, the human scale, the warmth.  Combine them and you’d have quite a picture. Combine them, in fact, and you’d have precisely the kind of Oscar winner your mama used to make, combining epic sweep and intimate detail, and sweeping all the main categories. This year, Lincoln is a close to that endangered species as any. It has received more nominations than any other film (12), has packed a  has packed a hefty punch at the box office ($164+ million). It has historical sweep, awards-worthy performances and mahogany-hued gravitas. And yet the very thing that won the critics over — Spielberg’s renunciation of all things Spielbergian — gives it a wobbly front wheel as front-runner. On the other hand, we have a solidly-directed political caper which in another era might have earnt it’s director four stars and a “good job” from the general public, but whose jaunty mix of geopolitics and show-business savvy, together with an underdog status only cemented by Affleck’s director snub, now put it neck-and-neck with Spielberg’s keening thoroughbred."

2013 has one great pop album already

"... Heartthrob counterbalances juvenility with an aged technique. Immaculate harmonies, taut call-and-responses, and major-key tenderness round out the album. This level of musicianship has been honed for years, from the surprising chord reversals on The Con to the studio flirtations on Sainthood so it’s unfair to call Heartthrob a departure — it’s more like a calculated step forward. And where the synths pause, a piano scale unravels. When Tegan asks “Do you remember?”, a bloom of harmony recalls. “I Was A Fool” takes a long look at failed romance through a dulcet split vocal. It sounds a bit like the Corrs, only it’s magnificent. Heartthrob invokes somber, marble notebook dumps as truthfully as it portrays its lustier foil. “Closer” is, to paraphrase Lena Dunham, a “tits-out” tribute to not getting to know someone. “All I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me,” Tegan sings. The two are more polite than Nine Inch Nails, but not by much. The single is the best pop song of 2013 so far and the credit is largely due to producer Greg Kurstin (Ke$ha, Kelly Clarkson). But “Closer”, and similar songs “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend”, “Drove Me Wild”, pull back on the reigns of contemporary schlock-pop. The vocals don’t compete with a rocket launch or dub-step drop. Instead, Tegan and Sara sound like La Roux crossed with Toni Basil. Genius levels of fun."
 Sarah H Grant, Consequence of Sound

Jan 28, 2013

Interviews of The Year (2012)

“There’s a lot of the true believer to Adams, with her big, blue eyes, and bushy-tailed manner. That she was once a greeter at The Gap makes perfect sense. Her best performances  — the motor-mouthed Ashley in Junebug (2005), the princess in Enchanted (2007) — have mined the comedy and pathos of the pathologically optimistic: sweet Pollyanas hoisting their beliefs aloft a rising tide of reality. The fifth of seven children, she was raised a Mormon until the age of 12, when her parents separated and left the church, her father moving to Arizona, Amy and her mom to Atlanta.  If her early work came lit up with the infectious inner glow of the one-time believer, her more recent roles—in 2008’s Doubt and The Master — have flipped that faith on its back like a beetle. Under the watchful eye of the right directors—David O Russell in The Fighter, Anderson in The Master, Spike Jonze in a forthcoming film, as yet untitled — Adams has revealed real steel in those baby blues."   
— Amy Adams for New York magazine
"His career has been a papier-mache mash-up of People headlines. First there was Indie Boy, the down-at-heel star of such films as Good Will Hunting and Chasing Amy, squaring off against Tom Hanks on the cover of the New York Times for a story about the two Hollywoods. He was King of the Indies. Then came roles in Michael Bay films like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor; and  engagement to Jennifer Lopez, brandishing her 6-carat pink diamond ring like a hunting trophy — the very image of Hollywood Bling.  This was followed by a troika of flops — Daredevil, Gigli, and the unfortunately named Paycheck — which left him in Movie Jail before he found his Third-Act Redemption in the arms of the Right Woman and a career as director.  Sipping coffee in a big, cuboid but comfy-looking chair, he is wearing a sweatshirt, jeans, trainers — Superstar Lite. Affleck is a big man, 6 foot 2, with a with a big lantern jaw and the slightly loping air of a man who has been blown up from a slightly smaller size only this morning and is still getting used to his enlarged dimensions." 
— Ben Affleck for The Daily Telegraph 
"A youthful-looking 70-year-old with a white beard, rimless spectacles, and a full head of silvery hair, Haneke is dressed entirely in black — a style once described as “haute couture Gandalf.” He cuts an elegant figure, legs crossed, translator scribbling by his side, in a beige room deep in the bowels of the Lincoln centre.  Haneke’s interview technique owes more than a passing resemblance to Federer’s drop-shot: killing the speed on any question, refusing its underlying premise and gently rolling it back to your feet with a smile. He takes questions the same way he makes movies: by jamming expectations, if not waging all-out war on them. His 1997 film Funny Games  — an ultra-violent objection to American movie violence —brutalized its audience far more than the films to which it was objecting. That was the point. Haneke wanted people to walk out. “Very often anger is my motor to do something,” he says. “Funny Games came from real anger. I wanted to slap the audience in the face.”   
— Michael Haneke for New York magazine 
"Dressed in all-black — pencil-thin trousers, camisole, a dainty silver necklace, silver nails, minimal make-up, her hair still growing out from the shoot of Les Miserables — Hathaway cuts an elfin, boyish figure, although any impression of frailty is soon dispelled by the gales of good humor she summons to pounce on anything that resembles ego or presumption in herself. She’s like a cross between a fawn and Bette Midler, or Audrey Hepburn if she’d been raised in a large, rowdy family of boys. It takes a few minutes to acclimatize to her beauty, which is almost ideographic, registering at 30 paces. Up close, her face is a Rolls-Royce of expressiveness, those plush outsized features telegraphing emotion instantaneously, every smile a kilowatt smile, the slightest furrow of those eyes registering sadness, or sympathy, as surely as a clown’s." 
— Anne Hathaway for Harper's Bazaar

"With her mane of red hair and lily-white skin, Chastain comes across like a California-bred Botticelli, mixing the freckled au naturel charms of a Spacek with the big-boned acting chops of a  Blanchett.  Curled up on the sofa at the Regency in upper Manhattan, wearing in a beautiful check Helmut Lang picnic-check dress and Christian Louboutin shoes, her fluffy white rescue dog Chaplin foraging in the corner of the room somewhere, Chastain couldn’t cut a more immaculate contrast with her obsessive, cargo-pant-clad character. To get into the CIA mindset, Chastain plastered the walls of her hotel in Chandigarh, India, where they were shooting, with mug-shots of terrorists, so they would be what greeted her when she returned from work.  “She’s a computer. She is her work. She becomes its servant,” she says. “No matter how I love my work, I’ll never allow myself to get lost in it. But I do understand that passion, and to be honest I also understand becoming a servant to it, not lose myself but you know almost to say  ‘use me’ to the director.”  
— Jessica Chastain for The Sunday Times  
"Now 66, Spielberg’s hair is grey and in retreat, but his demeanor is as effusive and boyish as ever. He still give every impression of having got dressed in five minutes flat, or dressed by his wife, who did her best to make his hair lie flat as he walked out the door, munching cornflakes. He talks with a slight lisp reminiscent of Sylvester the Cat, embarking on long sentences that plunge and swoop like a roller-coaster ride, powered by great gulps of enthusiasm that have him coming up for air, as if he must remind himself to breath, before plucking some mot juste from the air at the last minute, like Indiana Jones retrieving his whip from under a descending door. “You don't mind if I just talk do you,” he asks and off he goes, on long riffs through the historical research he did for Lincoln —the 13th president’s voice, or eating habits, or thinking habits, or melancholia. It’s all still in his system.  He didn’t direct a method actor in the role so much as method-direct the entire film."  
— Steven Spielberg for The Sunday Times 

Jan 24, 2013

Why Ang Lee could and should win

From this week's Guardian column:—
"While everyone has been distracted by the Argo-Lincoln wrestling match, Life of Pi has been quietly amassing close on half a billion — superhero numbers. How many adaptations of French-Canadian literary novels about Pantheism can you say that about? Traditionally, it is domestic box office that has the greater impact on the Oscar-race; international success is usually the sign of a Batman or a Transformers. But Life of Pi’s overseas action isn’t going unnoticed in Hollywood, which is increasingly watered with foreign cash. In 2009, the studios earnt a whopping 70% of their money abroad, and while North America is still the largest territory it won’t be for long: China is expected to eclipse it in 2019. If you think that hasn’t had an impact at the Oscars already look at the winners from the last few years: the Bollywood hybrid Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, the very British The King’s Speech in 2010, France’s The Artist in 2011. “I'm not American and I'm not French, actually,” Michel Haznavicious told the DGA when he accepted his directing award for The Artist last year. “I'm a filmmaker.” Hollywood movies have less claim on being an art form indigenous to North America than at any point in their history. Hollywood is now the world’s jukebox.   
That’s why I was so excited by the Life of Pi’s awards prospects when I saw it back in September at the New York film festival.... It’s clearly popular with the Academy, garnering 11 nominations, second only to Spielberg’s Lincoln, which is still the film to beat for Best Picture, but as a directing vehicle, it has a crucial flaw: most critics have praised Spielberg for what he does not do. There are few battle scenes, little rousing oratory, no sentimental scenes in which freed slaves thank an overwhelmed Lincoln, and little heard from John Williams and his angelic choirs.  It is, in short, the director’s least Spielbergian picture. He’s on a self-imposed diet.  This may please his detractors, but I’m not sure such self-effacement makes for a convincing Best Director win.  With no Affleck or Bigelow to contend with, this leaves Best Director up for grabs.  Barring a sweep by Silver Linings Playbook —we’ll know more about that whether that’s possible when the SAG’s get handed out — it looks as if Life if Pi could take home more than just cinematography and special effects. I think Lee both could and should win his second Best Director Oscar."

Jan 22, 2013

This I am interested in

"When South Korean genre iconoclast Park Chan-wook decided to bring his peculiar gifts to a Stateside production, anything could have happened - and anything pretty much does in "Stoker," a splendidly demented gumbo of Hitchcock thriller, American Gothic fairy tale and a contemporary kink all Park's own. Led by a brilliant Mia Wasikowska as an introverted teenager whose personal and sexual awakening arrives with the unraveling of a macabre family mystery, this exquisitely designed and scored pic will bewilder as many viewers as it bewitches, making ancillary immortality a safer bet than "Black Swan"-style crossover biz for Fox Searchlight's marvelously mad March hare... Material this wild demands actors fully committed to the cause, and Park has found them, particularly in his two female leads. Kidman, here extending her commendable record of counterintuitive auteur collaboration, has such form in the area of passive-aggressive ice queens that her work here shouldn't surprise, but the performance gets more bravely unhinged as it goes along, culminating in a spectacular Mommie Dearest tirade against her daughter that seems ripe for future impressions. Still, it's Wasikowska's film, and she shoulders it with witty aplomb: equal parts Alice in Wonderland and Wednesday Addams, her India is in constant, silent argument with the world around her." — Guy Lodge, Variety

Jan 17, 2013

Quote of the Day: Steve Coll

"Official torture is not an anathema in much of the United States; it is a credible policy choice. In public opinion polling, a bare majority of Americans opposes torturing prisoners in the struggle against terrorism, but public support for torture has risen significantly during the last several years, a change that the Stanford University intelligence scholar Amy Zegart has attributed in part to the influence of “spy-themed entertainment.” Even if torture worked, it could never be justified because it is immoral. Yet state-sanctioned, formally organized forms of torture recur even in developed democracies because some public leaders have been willing to attach their prestige to an argument that in circumstances of national emergency, torture may be necessary because it will extract timely intelligence relevant to public safety when more humane methods of interrogation will not. There is no empirical evidence to support this argument. Among other things, no responsible social scientist would condone peer-reviewed experiments to compare torture’s results to those from less coercive questioning. Defenders of torture in the United States therefore argue by issuing a flawed syllogism: the CIA tortured al-Qaeda suspects; those suspects provided information that helped to protect the public; therefore, torture was justified and even essential. In his recent statement to agency employees about Zero Dark Thirty, acting CIA director Morrell gave this argument implicit support when he said that the ongoing debate over the CIA’s treatment of al-Qaeda suspects after 2002 “never will be definitively resolved." That is a timid tautology; it is also evidence of a much wider political failure. As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate." — Steve Coll, New York Review of Books

INTERVIEW: Steven Spielberg

From my Sunday Times interview with Steven Spielberg:—
'On the set his new movie Lincoln, Steven Spielberg observed an unusual formality. All the time they were shooting, in Virginia, he called Daniel Day-Lewis, who was playing Lincoln, “Mr President.” He called Sally Field, who was playing the First Lady, “Mary or Mary Todd,” despite having known the actress for more than forty years and counting her among his closest friends. He also wore a suit to the set every day. Usually the director wears jeans or dungarees, an untucked Ralph Lauren plaid shirt, topped off with a baseball cap: the sort of Billionaire Schlub look that once marked the director out as an ordinary-joe extraordinaire — Martin Amis once mistook him for the guy who comes to fix the Coke dispenser — but is now more standard attire amongst elites of Hollywood and Sillicon valley. 
 “I’ve never worn a suit to a set but I wore a suit every single day because I wanted to be a part of the finery of that era,” he says, relaxing in a suite the Ritz Carlton Hotel near central Park. “I wanted to I dressed up to go to work. I actually put on a tie put on a coat, sometime a waistcoat and went to work.” 
 Now 66, Spielberg’s hair is grey and in slight retreat, but his demeanor is as effusive and boyish as ever. Despite his designer togs, he stills give every impression of having got dressed in five minutes flat, or having been dressed by his wife, who did her best to make his hair lie flat as he walked out the door. He talks with a slight lisp reminiscent of Sylvester the Cat, embarking on long sentences that plunge and swoop like a roller-coaster, powered by great gulps of enthusiasm that have him coming up for air, as if he must remind himself to breath, before plucking some mot juste from the air at the very last minute, like Indiana Jones retrieving his whip from under a descending door.  “You don't mind if I just talk do you,” he asks and off he goes, on a long riff through the historical research he did for Lincoln — into the 13th president’s voice, or eating habits, or thinking habits, melancholia. It’s still in his system.  He didn’t direct a method actor in the role so much as method-direct the entire film. 
 “Its easy to create hero worship but we weren’t interested in deifying the life and times of Abraham Lincoln,” he says recalling a trip to the Lincoln memorial with his uncle when he was six: a big imposing monolith that gave him the creeps. He could only look at his hands.  “I didn't want to make a movie about a statue. I wanted him to be flesh and bone.”'

Jan 14, 2013

RECEIVED WISDOM: The Golden Globes

"Only three films in the Oscar’s past 84 ceremonies have won Best Picture without having been nominated for Best Director as well. The last time this happened was in 1990, when Driving Miss Daisy won the big prize even though Bruce Beresford was not honored at all for his directorial work. For the other two examples, you have to go back a full 70 years: Wings won Best Picture at the first Academy Awards in 1929, though William A. Wellman was passed over in the directing category, and Grand Hotel won in 1932, though director Edmund Goulding was not nominated." — Slate
"If anyone thought the Golden Globes results were going to add any clarity to the topsy turvy atmosphere that has so far characterized this year’s Oscar race forget it.... Voting for Globes was in before the Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday and before it was known the Acad’s directors branch had snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck... Nothing will really be known until the entertainment guilds start weighing in beginning with the Producers Guild on January 26 followed closely by SAG the next night. If both of those industry bellwethers also go big for Argo then Best Director nomination be damned, Argocould have unstoppable momentum. If they offer up the same mixed results we have gotten so far then the questions about where this race is heading will intensify making for a very suspenseful end of season. In fact many are already saying Affleck’s snub  could actually help the film down the line even leading to a DGA win for him on February 2."  — Mike Hammond

Thoughts on the Golden Globes 2013

Whether by accident or cheeky design, the Globes have played out like the Oscars That Weren’t, with the Academy-snubbed Ben Affleck picking up Best Director, and Argo picking up Best Film, while the Oscar-bound Lincoln limped home with its single win for Daniel Day-Lewis. The Globes have always hewed to their own course — but it does drive home how daft it was for them to have neglected Affleck in the Best Director category. They denied themselves their favored David-Vs-Goliath storyline, and gave it to the Globes instead. The HFPA saw their opportunity and pounced. 

It was a good night for Harvey Weinstein whose campaigning for Django Unchained netted two wins (for Tarantino’s script and Christoph Waltz in Supporting Actor), also for Les Miserables (two acting wins, For Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway) and for Austrians (with, in addition to Waltz, Michael Haneke taking home Best Foreign Film). Schwarzenegger’s presence gave it away. Whoever thought the maker of Funny Games would take an award from the auteurs behind The Terminator and Rambo? Waltz's win was the first sign that it was not going to be Spielberg's night. Then Best Score went to Life of Pi’s Mychael Danna. By the time Day-Lewis took the stage there was a palpable sense of relief from the Spielberg camp. He gave the best speech, delivered with his usual hunched humility, and filled with deft word choices —  “I hunt and scavenge and drop it like a mouse at [Rebecca’s] feet” — lovely, “Quicksilver,” “Impoverished” — that lent incisiveness to his bouquets.

Anne Hathaway was as self-lacerating as Jennifer Lawrence was fearless. “I beat Meryl!” she said huskily, collecting her best Comedy/Musical Actress. But for a slight quiver in her voice, she could have been addressing her hair-stylist. “Harvey, thank you for killing whoever you had to kill to get me up here today.” Lena Dunham gives a speech just like her show: layer after layer of irony peeling back to reveal little, pink pockets of chubby vulnerability. Costner looked magnificent — new hair? — and sounded mournful. And Affleck kept his ego on the mat, delivering the fastest speech of the evening, as if keen not to offend even the auto-cue, calling his fellow nominees “exceptional talents” and sounding like he meant it.

Is Lincoln wounded? A little. But the Academy have already defanged the Globes big winner. This is a weird race.

Jan 12, 2013

QUOTE OF THE DAY: The White House

"— The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000, 000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it. 
— The Administration does not support blowing up planets. 
— Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" 
White House response to a 25,000-signature petition suggesting the American government focus it's "defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star," thus spurring "job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more." 

INTERVIEW: Kathryn Bigelow & Mark Boal

'Sat at the head of a table, Bigelow and Boal give every impression of having wandered into one of the minefields in their previous Oscar-winner, The Hurt Locker.  Their answers are curt, tight-lipped, as if still in lock-down mode after hanging out with too many spooks. “People are going to bring whatever politics they want to it,” says Boal, “but we try not to bring any agenda to it and tell the story. Something that gets lost in the politicization is the no single piece of information led to Bin Laden, and no single technique. There were lots of tools in the toolbox, under two administrations spanning ten years. In terms of the efficacy-of-torture debate, that’s a debate that continues even among the people that did it. That debate will probably continue for some time. I’m not trying to settle a score in that debate. So much as: this stuff happened. We had to include it in the story.” This is disingenuous. Nobody is disputing whether torture happened.  What has senators like John McCain up in arms are the scenes showing the film's main suspect giving up Bin Laden’s courier only after being extensively tortured (a second suspect does the same), when in reality, the Saudi on whom he was based, Mohammed al-Qhatani, gave up all his useful intel before he saw any rough stuff. This is an important thing to get wrong. This is the freebie to Dick Cheney that so dismays the film's critics. Despite Bigelow and Boal's disavowals, their film expresses a definite opinion on torture. That opinion is that it works.' — from my Sunday Times article on Zero Dark Thirty 

Jan 11, 2013

'Benh Zeitlin's the most popular guy here. Everyone's so happy for him. One of my favorite nominations in years. "I shrieked," he said.' — Kris Tapley at the BFCA

INTERVIEW: Jessica Chastain

From my Sunday Times interview with Jessica Chastain:—
Curled up on the sofa at the Regency in upper Manhattan, wearing a beautiful check Helmut Lang picnic-check dress and Christian Louboutin shoes, her fluffy white rescue dog Chaplin foraging in the corner of the room somewhere, Chastain couldn’t cut a more immaculate contrast with her pallid, cargo-pant-clad obsessive.  With her radiant mane of red hair and lily-white skin, Chastain comes across like a California-bred Botticelli, mixing the freckled au naturel charms of a Spacek with the big-boned acting chops of a Blanchett. When I first met her, she also had her leg in a sling after an accident on a motor-cross bike; she now bears a small scar below her left knee. I tell her it was the first sign I got that she had something like Zero Dark Thirty in her — all that cussing! “You mean that the Botticelli had some fire?” she says.  “You know what’s so funny. Do you want to know why that is? I never swear. I very rarely swear so maybe when I say it has a little more fire. Because I've saved it up."  

RECEIVED WISDOM: The Nominations

"The biggest shock waves at the Academy this morning were clearly over the omission of Ben Affleck‘s direction of Argo and Kathryn Bigelows absence forZero Dark Thirty. Both are still nominees as co-producers of their Best Picture-nominated films, but this has to sting." — Deadline Hollywood  
"It's "Lincoln" vs. "Silver Linings Playbook" vs. "Life Of Pi" For Best Picture. Things could, of course, change over the next few weeks, but despite picking up Best Picture nominations, three of the hopefuls seemed to take a fairly major knock today. Famously, the last time a film won Best Picture without at least a nomination for Best Director was "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1989, which means that, by missing out in the latter category, "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo" and "Les Miserables" all have an uphill battle to fight." — The Playlist   
"The Producer's Guild Awards (1.26) is the one to watch as far as where this race is going." — Pete Hammond   
"Five of the 9 nominees have terrifying scenes involving drowning/ flooding/ watery-death... Beasts of the Southern Wild - for Hushpuppy drowning is the end of the world, hurricanes as apocalypse. Those shots of drowned animals and her thoughts about them having no daddies? Heartbreaking. The Impossible - tells a true story of survival from the 2004 Thai tsunami... Life of Pi - at the center of an ungainly expository drama, is a miniature visual masterpiece about a shipwreck and a tiger and boy sharing a boat alone in the vastness of the ocean. Moonrise Kingdom features a big storm and flood. Amour - has flooding but in which context we shouldn't say. Zero Dark Thirty -the waterboarding torture sequence is what keeps everyone talking though it's a tiny part of the movie. But still: horrific." — Nathaniel Rogers 
"For the first time in, like, forever most of the Oscar frontrunners for Best Picture have either made $100 million or are barreling towards that as we speak. Box office for “adult fare” has been off the charts this year and is the story of 2012." — Awards Daily 
"The New York Film Festival - showing a more selective line-up than any other major one except Telluride - was the big winner when the Oscar nominations were announce this morning. The two films with the most nominations - "Lincoln" (12) and "The Life of Pi" (11) both world premiered at their event (the former as an unannounced surprise screening, the latter Opening Night), while "Flight" (Best Actor and Original Screenplay nominee) was their closer." — IMDB 
"Lincoln will win Best Picture" — Jeff Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere 
"With this morning's nominations, they may have played by the book in some respects -- pretty much everyone saw that field-leading haul of nods for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" coming -- but in many others, they were on excitingly independent-minded form, freed from the lockstep of Guild thinking." — Guy Lodge, In Contention  
"The exemplary fact of this year’s Oscar nominations is the acknowledgment of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in four major categories (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay)." — Richard Brody, The New Yorker 
 "I am told by a Weinstein consultant that Harvey Weinstein listened to the announcement and said he was more excited by this Oscar morning than any since the first Miramax movie was nominated nearly 25 years ago. He has reason to be excited by the performance of Silver Linings,which becomes the first film since Reds in 1981 to have Picture, Screenplay, Directing and acting nominations in four categories." — Deadline Hollywood 
"Cannes, then, remains a potential Oscar kingmaker, even as the festival concerns itself largely with auteurs who will never see the inside of the Dolby Theater" — Guy Lodge
"Emmanuelle Riva Could Win Best Actress"The Playlist