Since taking the Telluride and Toronto film festivals by storm in the early fall, "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" have dominated the Oscar conversation. Three months of screenings and cocktail receptions and glad-handing have done little to alter the leaderboard, but now, as critics groups, Screen Actors Guild Awards voters and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. have weighed in, there's a new question popping around Hollywood.
Is the film academy about to go back to the '70s again?
The cumulative stamp of approval from critics, actors and
And, with the academy, "Hustle" also hits a sweet spot between the serious history lesson contained in "12 Years a Slave" and the popcorn thrills of "Gravity." The same Oscar voters who favored the crowd-pleasing entertainment of "Argo" over
For whatever reason, another feel-good movie, Disney's making-of-
The cold shoulder has surprised many in Hollywood as the film has played well to academy members and SAG voters, owning a warm, sentimental tone that separates it from edgier, R-rated contenders such as "Hustle,"
Then again, it's possible "Banks" may be striking many voters as a bit too soft. "It's a nice Disney-corporate-retreat film about how studios always know best and writers are crazy and only Americans understand emotions," pop culture journalist Mark Harris tweeted last week. In other words: Anyone not owning a pair of mouse ears might not be susceptible to the movie's charms.
And an alternative has already emerged for the older, "Poppins"-friendly crowd. "Philomena," the fact-based story of an elderly Irishwoman who enlists the help of a sour-pill journalist to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption 50 years earlier, has been winning raves for the chemistry between its two stars, Judi Dench and
"Philomena" and "Banks" are part of a group of late-arriving contenders, which also include "Hustle," "Wolf of Wall Street," the
This year, "Her" might be the dark horse bet, sporting a weirdly affecting romance between a lonely man (
Of course, the HFPA also dug