Late this morning Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and In Contention‘s Kris Tapley discussed their reaction to Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar, which they saw last night at the AFIFest, on Oscar Talk. I have a chance to see it tonight, and I may do that rather than wait for Monday’s “caboose” screening.

Tapley also talks about last Tuesday’s screening of Young Adult (“I think it plays to a niche crowd”), which Thompson missed.

Here’s Tapley’s J. Edgar review on Hitfix/In Contention.

“I think DiCaprio could win [the Best Actor Oscar],” says Tapley, and Thompson agrees. Neither of them think it’s a Best Picture contender. Thompson says she wasn’t sure about Armie Hammer after his Social Network performance, but after seeing him play Clyde Tolson in J. Edgar she feels “he’s a keeper now.”

Thompson: “I liked it a lot more than I expected…a lotta flashbacks…an old guy looking back…the casting is really good and the actors are really great…I feel a great deal of affection for Leo [giving] a great movie-star performance….one of those movie-star alchemy things happen in which you’re looking at J. Edgar and you’re looking at Leo…there’s a lot of resemblance to Brokeback Mountain…tragic love story…..I was surprised by how much I was pulled in to the narrative and pulled into caring. Not a perfect movie, not a great movie…but Clint does it again.”

Tapley: “The greatest hits biopic approach…oddly clunky, abitrary structure, zipping around in time…..unmotivated…didn’t seem to have a reason to go back and forth…but probably my favorite Clint pic since Letters From Iwo Jima….Mystic River is a lot more boring that I recall…I just think that…uhm, I like the movie on one hand [but] I don’t like latter-day Eastwood.”

Eastwood “peaked with Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby,” says Thompson, “and mostly the later ones don’t measure up.”

From a NY critic friend: “You can cross this one off the Oscar-contender list. Not sure who anyone thinks the audience is. The movie it most reminded me of was that Jack Nicholson‘s Hoffa. Unfocused movie built around strong central performance or performances. Armie Hammer is pretty great, though. Very even-handed and Leo is also strong. The problem is the script, which can’t seem to figure out what it’s about. Addresses the gay issue obliquely by suggesting that Hoover was a closet case who wouldn’t admit to himself what was going on with Tolson.”