April 26, 2014

Wherefore art thou, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”? – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: While certain Oscar hopefuls have screened for audiences and critics and are riding waves of goodwill, we still have a handful of pictures we believe have a shot at getting into the race that have yet to screen.

You’ve no doubt heard the “Field of Dreams” phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, in Oscar prognosticator world, we say, “If you screen it, they will write about it.”

This helps explain why Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” which has been working the festival circuit, has leapfrogged Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” on Movieline’s current “Oscar Index.” In fact, Spielberg’s adaptation of the award-winning play and book has fallen behind “The Artist” on Stu Van Airsdale’s list, thanks in part to the fact that no one has seen “Horse” yet (outside of select insiders, I’m sure).

“If War Horse surges after it screens, fine. If it wins Best Picture, fine. But at least handicappers have stopped sipping the preliminary Kool-Aid,” blogger Jeff Wells comments.

There’s one way for “War Horse” to reclaim its spot atop pre-game Oscar charts: Screen for critics and deliver on its promise.

Until then, we’re speculating … and from the tidal shift that has occurred in the last few days, we’re far more comfortable speculating about films that we’ve seen – “The Help,” “The Artist,” “The Descendants” – than films that we haven’t.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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