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Paul Thomas Anderson - 'The Master'
Pro: Across six feature films, the lovingly nicknamed 'PTA' has been elevated to Great American Auteur status in cinephile circles. With the eccentricity and opacity of his films never making for easy Academy bait, the directors' branch was slow to catch on, but relented in 2007 with “There Will Be Blood.” The lavishly praised and heavily debated “The Master” has sealed his reputation as a critics' darling, and won him both Best Director and Grand Jury Prize at the Venice fest. Expect a strong showing for Anderson in the critics' awards, and a gilded Weinstein campaign.
Con: Critics love the movie, but will Academy types warm to its chilly inscrutability? Audiences haven't, as the Weinsteins' ballsy strategy of opening the film in September and quickly going wide failed to pay off. The company's other, later awards ponies, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained,” should prove more popular, posing awkward internal competition.
- Guy Lodge