The Hollywood Reporter has released the seventh installment of its weekly web series The Hollywood Reporters. In each episode, THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg, the series' host, chats with colleagues from THR's newsroom about different aspects of the awards race.
This week, Feinberg was joined by senior editor Alex Ben Block -- last year's winner of the L.A. Press Club's Entertainment Journalist of the Year Award and a nominee for the International Cinematography Guild's Press Award that will be presented on Feb. 22 -- to preview the 17 days remaining before the 85th Oscars.
Feinberg and Block assert that it looks very likely that Ben Affleck's Argo will win the best picture Oscar, based on its Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, DGA, PGA and SAG wins. But Block emphasizes that there are demographic differences between the critics' and guilds' awards-dispensing groups. Feinberg notes that the major cautionary tale for Argo is Apollo 13 (1995), another historical drama from an actor-turned-director -- Ron Howard, who, like Affleck, was denied a best director Oscar nom for his efforts -- that also won the SAG, DGA and PGA prizes, but wound up lost the best picture Oscar to Braveheart.
The two also discuss the strong performance of Ang Lee's Life of Pi with the tech guilds. The film has already won the top prizes of the Art Directors Guild (in the fantasy film category) and the Visual Effects Society, and it might well do the same with the American Society of Cinematographers on Feb. 10. While the Academy's largest branch is composed of actors, who account for 1/6 of its total membership, 5/6 of Academy members are non-actors, and the majority of them come from tech branches. Could Pi's popularity with them propel it to become the first 3D film to ever win the best picture Oscar? Block says it's "highly unlikely."
That being said, Feinberg and Block both believe that Lee could win the best director Oscar -- which would be his second in seven years, as he previously won for Brokeback Mountain (2005) -- although they feel that Spielberg is more likely to win for his most ambitious undertaking and greatest achievement in years. Block describes Lincoln as a film that Academy members will be "proud to be associated with." (He also makes note of the rather surprising fact that Lincoln star Daniel Day-Lewis, the heavy favorite to win the best actor Oscar, would be the first person to ever win an acting Oscar for a performance in a film directed by Spielberg.)