Roundup: The trouble with the artist biopic

Also: The foreign-language Oscar boost, and holding off the 'Les Mis' train

<p>Helen Mirren and Athony Hopkins in &quot;Hitchcock.&quot;</p>

Helen Mirren and Athony Hopkins in "Hitchcock."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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It sure feels like a long time ago that Fox Searchlight announced it was releasing "Hitchcock" in 2012 and multiple Oscar pundits adjusted their Best Picture charts: the film's detractors keep growing in number, some offended, others merely bored. (I haven't had an opportunity to see it yet.) One of the best pieces for the prosecution I've read comes from Scott Tobias, who uses his issues with the film as a springboard for a discussion about the problem with artist biopics in general: they tend to be so much more conventional than the figures they're about, and "any scene that fails to illuminate the creative process is more banal than trivia." He cites "Topsy-Turvy" and "32 Short Films About Glenn Gould" as examples of films that successfully dodge the "Wiki-movie" pitfalls of the artist biopic; I'd add "I'm Not There" and "Before Night Falls," among others. [A.V. Club]

Always nice to welcome a smart new voice to the Oscar-blogging fray: the excellent Joe Reid is covering the season for Film.com and kicks off with column explaining why the awards slog is ultimately good for us. [Film.com

Ian Sandwell looks into why even a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar makes a world of difference to distributors and bean-counters. [Screen]

While others are going full steam ahead with Best Picture predictions for "Les Mis," Jon Weisman is a little more cautious: it can win, he says, but has "enough bumps and bruises to hurt it." [The Vote]

Also unconvinced is Steve Pond, and not just because he was personally left cold by much of the film: he remembers that "Dreamgirls" also premiered to a rapturous response. [The Wrap

Meanwhile, with many of her colleagues reaching for newer, shinier toys, Sasha Stone restates the case for "Argo." [Awards Daily]

India will be next year's "guest country" at the Cannes Film Festival, following Brazil this year and Egypt in 2011. I was at Cannes both years and confess I have no knowledge of this tradition, but it sounds good. [Hollywood Reporter]

Mary Ann Skweres talks to editor William Goldenberg (who's shooting for two Oscar nods this year) about his work on "Argo." [Below the Line]

Amy Kaufman talks to Cheryl Cohen Greene, the  real-life sex surrogate played by Helen Hunt in "The Sessions." [LA Times]

Empire magazine votes "The Avengers" the best film of 2012. I am an occasional contributor, but I had no part in this. [Twitter]

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Guy Lodge
Critic
Guy Lodge is a South African-born critic and sometime screenwriter. In addition to his work at In Contention, he is a freelance contributor to Variety, Time Out, Empire and The Guardian. He lives well beyond his means in London.
2013-2014 OSCAR NOMINATIONS
UPDATED: MARCH 2, 2014