Oscars 2013: EW's no-nonsense Prize Fighter analysis of early contenders '12 Years a Slave,' 'Gravity,' more ...

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The Fifth Estate (Oct. 18)

Benedict Cumberbatch is the saving grace of The Fifth Estate.

The best chance this movie has is a Best Actor nomination for the Sherlock star, who dominates the screen as the enigmatic and underhanded hacker-journalist Julian Assange.

Best Actor will be a hard-fought category, but the movie didn’t come away with enough admirers to come on strong in most other fields. Reaction to this true-life drama about the creation of Wikileaks was mixed at best. Some journalists, like EW’s Owen Gleiberman and yours truly, admired The Fifth Estate’s take on the murky line between idealism and anarchy, but the detractors tended to be more outspoken and passionate than the supporters.

But most agreed Cumberbatch was mesmerizing. Daniel Brühl was also well-regarded as Assange’s right-hand hacker, although he is the steady, more reserved figure who helps ground the story. (His own Oscar chances rest on the more colorful performance he delivers in Rush.)

The ongoing national debate over the Edward Snowden leaks that revealed widespread domestic spying by the NSA should have galvanized director Bill Condon’s film with relevance. Instead, the real life news reports may have upstaged it.

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