Hot Featurette: Will Oscar Shine On 'Life Of Pi's Ang Lee In Strong Best Director Race?

EXCLUSIVE: Whatever happens in the Best Picture Oscar race, where Argo has emerged as a strong frontrunner thanks to an unbroken string of victories in all the key precursor awards, the race for the Best Director Oscar is turning out to be a nail-biter. Since Argo’s Ben Affleck was famously snubbed by the directors branch and won’t be competing (he most likely would have won), all eyes are turning to the five directors who actually were nominated, Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts Of The Southern Wild) and Ang Lee (Life Of Pi).

Because Affleck won the DGA award, usually the most reliable indicator of success for the Oscar-winning director, all bets are off. Spielberg and Lee, both past winners and icons, also have the benefit of films with the most nominations with 12 for Lincoln and 11 for Life Of Pi. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook also is very strong, particularly with the all-important and very large Academy actors branch, where it became the first film in 31 years to win nominations in all four acting categories (Lincoln was close behind with noms in three acting categories — no actor in a Spielberg film has ever won an Oscar for that film, but that’s likely to change this year).

But without a single acting nomination for his film, could Lee still possibly emerge the winner? Yes. The pure technical achievement of Life Of Pi is also considered a great triumph for the director, who took a book thought to be unfilmable and turned it into a worldwide hit that has now made well over half a billion dollars internationally. When the Best Director envelope is opened a week from Sunday, it promises to be one of the more suspenseful moments of the night. Could it be Lee? Who knows, but this exclusive featurette from Life Of Pi certainly details some of the reasons that got him to this potential moment of Oscar glory.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Originality, pacing, haunting soundtrack, visual poetry. Multi-layered storytelling and amazing acting.

  1. I’m inclined to go with Ang Lee for Best Director. The emotion of the town seems to be going away from Lincoln, which everyone respects, but I’m not sure everyone likes. Silver Lining Playbook appears to be another film that people like, but I’m not sure they’re going to vote for it. Life of Pi is a director’s movie to the nth degree. It has the visual splendor that Academy audiences love. So an Ang Lee director’s win will not be a surprise here. In fact, if it beats Argo for Best Picture, I also wouldn’t be surprised.

  2. I agree that this was the best movie I saw last year. It would be my choice for Best Picture largely because of its technical brilliance.

    That said, I’d add that besides making a visually stunning movie Lee also deserves credit for eliciting a remarkable performance from Siraj Sharma, this newcomer’s very first acting job. It’s a spacious performance, with the character deepening as the story confronts him with a range of inner and outer challenges. Pi is a different person by the end of the story. Lee helped pace the young actor’s work so he ends up delivering one of the most watchable performances of the year.

    For all of Lee’s vast technical achievements in this movie, it’s the young boy’s struggles with himself that ultimately pull you through the story. I think Lee understood this from the start.

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