Oscar voting begins online Friday, though many Motion Picture Academy members who didn't register for online balloting received paper versions beginning late last week. Some diligent members have already made their selections and mailed them in.
The timing isn't particularly good for anyone associated with
Scott goes on to call the film a "thespian cage match." "Within a circumscribed space, a bunch of unquestionably talented performers is assembled with no instructions other than to top one another," he continues. "One twitchy confession must be excelled by another. The same with smoldering, sarcastic speeches, explosions of tears, wistful jags of nostalgia and imperious gazes of disgust."
Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan is equally unimpressed, likening "Osage County" to "that branch of reality TV where dysfunctional characters, whether active or passive, make a public display of their wretched lives."
"If you think your family is difficult, seeing the Westons will set you straight," Turan writes. "Unless you are actually related to them, however, caring about these people is out of the question."
[Update, 6:40 PST, Jan. 3: Since this article was written, more positive reviews have been logged, including the
The negative reviews may have repercussions beyond the movie's box office, redefining the lead actress Oscar race. Since "August: Osage County" first screened at the Toronto Film Festival in September, it had been assumed that
Maybe it will. Yes, feting Streep this time of year seems to be a habit with the academy, even when the work in question falls short of excellence. But with "August: Osage County," Streep's legend, which casts a long shadow over everything around it, could work against her.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Actually, it sounds like the very kind of wild and crazy performance that academy members have often rewarded over the years. ("Screamin'" Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman" and
But when it comes to overacting, is there a line dividing "Hoo-ha" and "devastating act of God"? And, if so, did Streep cross that divide in "Osage County"? It's one of the more interesting facets of this Oscar season, and one that's now up to academy members to decide. We'll see what they think on Jan. 16 when the nominations are announced.