RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And here in L.A. red carpet season kicks into high gear this morning when the Oscar nominations are announced. From critics to film executives, 2012 is thought to be a very good year for movies.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ZERO DARK THIRTY")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Someone just tried to blow up Time Square and you're talking about some facilitator, some detainee seven years ago said might have been working with al-Qaida?
JESSICA CHASTAIN: (As Maya) He's the key to bin Laden.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARGO")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Here's your director.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Can you teach somebody to be a director in a day?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: You can teach a Rhesus monkey to be a director in a day.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: I'm not going to apologize for this. You know what I will do? I will apologize on behalf of Ernest Hemmingway because that's who's to blame here.
MONTAGNE: Scenes from "Silver Lining's Playbook," "Argo," and "Zero Dark Thirty," all considered contenders for Best Picture. To break down the Oscar race, Kim Masters joined us at NPR West. She's editor at large for the Hollywood Reporter. Good morning.
KIM MASTERS: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So Kim, run through the list of possible Best Picture nominees for us and, of course, it can be up to 10 and it sounds like quite a list.
MASTERS: Yeah. It's a really strong list. I think there will be a group that are for sure nominees; "Lincoln" from Steven Spielberg, "Argo," which is Ben Affleck's movie about the caper in Iran during the hostage crisis, "Les Mis," Tom Hooper's take on the Victor Hugo novel and musical, "Silver Lining's Playbook," from David O. Russell, it's a comedy about two people with some mental challenges, shall we say, "Zero Dark Thirty," has gotten a lot of publicity.
This one about the hunt for bin Laden from Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's movie based on the novel. I think those for sure are going to be nominated and then there's some that can still sneak in, "Beast of the Southern Wild" and others that are in contention and wouldn't shock anybody, "Django Unchained" from Quentin Tarantino might make the cut.
MONTAGNE: Well, let's go back for a moment to "Zero Dark Thirty." It's been very controversial for its depiction of torture. How might all of that criticism affect Oscar voters?
MASTERS: It is hard to say. I don't think it helps the movie. I think they'll be some people who don't want to see it because they've heard about the torture depiction. I think some people might be concerned about what the implications of the controversy are. Does the movie endorse torture? Some may want to spring to the defense of the filmmakers, but I think the bottom line is the movie is not an emotional movie with a big emotional payoff.
And a lot of Oscar pundits that I talk to feel that the Academy members are going to be more responsive to a movie with that big heart element.
MONTAGNE: Okay. Well, then in the acting categories, talk to us about who are the favorites.
MASTERS: I think Daniel Day Lewis has to be considered a lock for impersonating Lincoln. He's the lead candidate in Best Actor. In Best Actress, I think, you know, there are couple of contenders. Jennifer Lawrence, you might remember her from "Hunger Games," if you didn't see her in "Silver Lining's Playbook," but she plays a sort of a damaged young woman who finds some recovery through dance.
Jessica Chastain also maybe for playing Maya, the CIA agent in "Zero Dark Thirty." Supporting, I think Alan Arkin is so compelling. He plays a movie producer in a very humorous turn in "Argo" and I think a lot of people in Hollywood and the Academy might find that particularly appealing. And in Best Supporting Actress, I think Anne Hathaway.
I think everybody has seen her at least in a clip singing "I Dreamed a Dream" and I think that is the closest thing to a lock in this competition.
MONTAGNE: And Kim, this Oscar season really seems to stand out because several of these films have been big hits at the Box Office, unlike the last few Academy Awards when small films that hadn't attracted big audiences won big on Oscar night.
MASTERS: Yeah. You're thinking about movies like "The Artist," and "The Hurt Locker," which was a very small movie at the Box Office, even after it won. And this year, we not only have some big grosses, but we have the studios. We have "Argo" from Warner Brothers, "Les Mis" from Universal, "Life of Pi" from Fox. You know, these are not the sorts of movies that these studios have been making and yet they took a chance and they've been well rewarded in every instance so far.
And it's been a record year at the Box Office, over $10.6 billion. And more importantly, there are more ticket sales and that's been a good year for Hollywood and I think the interest in the Awards will carry along the interest for a few weeks to come.
MONTAGNE: Kim Masters hosts "The Business" on member station KCRW. Thanks very much.
MASTERS: Thank you, Renee.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
But let's not waste any more time on acclaimed movies. We have news of the Razzies, the annual spoof of the Academy Awards highlighting the years worst movies and performances.
MONTAGNE: Razzie winners are announced the night before the Oscars and the nominations came out this week. They went to some movies you might have forgotten, including "Battleship," and "That's My Boy." Acting nominations go to Adam Sandler, Tyler Perry and Katherine Heigel.
INSKEEP: Leading the pack is "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2." It is to the Razzies what "Gone With The Wind" or "Avatar" have been to the Oscars. The vampire flick is up for 11 awards this year, including worst picture, worst director and worst screenplay.
MONTAGNE: "Twilight's" star Robert Pattinson is up for worst actor, but he didn't do as well or maybe we should say as badly as his co-star Kristen Stewart. She is nominated twice for worst actress in both "Twilight" and "Snow White and the Huntsman."