Inside the Best Picture nominees: A deep dive into 'Life of Pi'

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Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Name: Life of Pi

Release date: Nov. 21, 2012

DVD release date: March 12, 2013

Run time: 2 hours, 6 mins.

Box office: Opening weekend: $30.5 million; Total domestic box office: $106 million; Worldwide gross to date: $548 million

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88 percent

Life of Pi movie math: (‘Calvin and Hobbes’ + ‘Open Water’) x George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” / (Noah’s Ark + metaphors)  x π x ∞

Tweetable description: Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Stuck in a boat with a Bengal tiger? Create your own reality.

What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: Watching the director’s first 3-D project, I found myself drifting off, thinking, ”How did Ang Lee make that CG tiger look so excellently tiger-y? How did he make the stars so twinkly?” And then I thought, ”Gee, the director has worked so hard on this, and so meticulously. What craftsmanship!” But that’s not the same thing as being swept away.

Number of Oscar nods: Eleven — second only to Lincoln, Pi helmer Ang Lee will vie for Best Director and writer David Magee for Best Adapted Screenplay, plus a boatload of below-the-line nods (Best Cinematography, Editing, Score, Original Song, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects).

Movie’s Oscar history: Ang Lee was nominated for Best Director of 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then he won in 2005 for directing Brokeback Mountain. His films Sense and Sensibility (1995), Crouching Tiger, and Brokeback were all nominated for Best Picture. Screenwriter Magee was nominated for a 2004 Oscar for Finding Neverland. Chilean cinematographer Claudio Miranda was the director of photography on 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the first entirely digitally filmed movie nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar.

What it has won thus far: American Film Institute Movie of the Year; Broadcast Film Critics Association (Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects), British Academy of Film Awards (Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects), Golden Globe (Best Original Score), Art Directors Guild (Excellence in Production Design for a Feature Film)

Why it should win: Yann Martel’s 2001 strange and wondrous bestselling novel Life of Pi was considered unfilmable — Ang Lee told EW this was his longest and “most uncertain” project. (Read more here.) Somehow he managed to capturing teenage Pi’s life-changing adventure — and use survival as a metaphor for spirituality without being heavy-handed. 3-D was used subtly to perfection, and Richard Parker the Tiger is a stunning achievement in CGI. Especially during the parts when Pi is lost at sea (most of the movie), all of the visual effects beautifully enhanced the spare narrative to create this fully realized world that leaves you thinking about life and all its question marks for weeks to come.

Why it shouldn’t win: The film is more remarkable for specific artistic elements than for how it comes together as a whole. It should certainly win Cinematography, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, maybe even Best Director — but Best Picture, no.

Vegas Odds: 50-1, according to Las Vegas Sports Betting.

Best Line: “The one with the tiger. That’s the better story.”

Worst Line: “Bananas don’t float.”

Read more: 
Ang Lee on the 11 Oscars noms for ‘Life of Pi’
Paris ‘Life of Pi’ audience watches screening in lifeboats
EW’s ‘Life of Pi’ review
EW’s 2013 Academy Awards Hub

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