In Contention‘s Kris Tapley attended Saturday afternoon’s industry screening of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and his three main responses are (a) “The verdict is a big thumbs-up“; (b) “I can’t imagine less than 10 nominations — Best Picture, Director, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Original Score, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Visual Effects are virtually assured”; and (c) “Cate Blanchett is suddenly a threat to win the lead actress Oscar walking away…it might be her best work to date.”

And yet he also says that “one of the odd reactions I took away from the film, however, was that the work felt strangely cold. I wasn’t sure whether I meant that in a good way or a bad way, and surely, people were crying their eyes out over this thing, so I might be in a minority. Perhaps it’s my youthful cynicism, who knows, but I thought Fincher brought an arm’s-length approach to the emotions in the film.”

Screenwriter Eric Roth’s reply to this” “[David] Fincher is the kind of director that brings you right up to the point of sentiment and then brings it back. There’s something to be said for that, I think.”

Brad Pitt, says Tapley, “does not blow the role of Benjamin Button out of the water and perhaps he underplays it a bit too much. But it is great to see him happy to get out from underneath his star persona, and with the right level of support, his [Best Actor] nomination could make it 14 in total.” Button, he says, is “the year’s tech giant.”

Here‘s an mp3 of today’s q & a with Fincher, Roth and the tech crew, moderated by The Envelope‘s Pete Hammond.