“If one is talking Oscars with a film like Invictus then it’s worth considering that even fans of the piece couldn’t possibly, credibly consider it one of Eastwood’s top tier works,” writes In Contention‘s Kris Tapley. “An expanded Best Picture category and enough traditionalist voting methods will likely secure it a spot in the field, and Morgan Freeman has enough gravitas to coast to a most undeserved nomination, but beyond that, nothing rings true.

“Best Director? It would be surprising. Best Supporting Actor? The acting branch would be voting on autopilot. Below the line? Not enough frills.

“But away from the black hole of awards considerations, it’s difficult not to see Invictus as a warning that Eastwood could be on the precipice of a Woody Allen-like plunge following a very commendable late-career burst. Every one of Allen’s films as of late, throughout his career, have been about something. But the craft has worn thin (save for last year’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona). That’s where I’d say Eastwood finds himself, despite what critical apologists might say. A few moments away from the fray might do him good.”

Alllen’s Match Point was thin? Not according to my yardstick.

Eastwood can’t take a few moments away from the fray because if he did he’d lost his momentum. He’s following a plan — keep moving, stay limbre, keep ’em coming at a price — and he’s on a clock. As Christopher Plummer‘s Mike Wallace says in the third act of The Insider, “What do I say at this point? That in the future I’d like to do this or that? Future…what future?”: