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Talking Oscars with Longtime Movie Critic Jeffrey Lyons

Jeffrey Lyons is back on WCBS 880 with his popular movie review segment, the nationally heard Lyons Den Radio.

Lyons, known for more than 40 years of his insightful cinematic critiques and entertaining interviews, worked at 880 from 1975 to 1994. He was also a regular reviewer on WPIX from 1970 to 1991.

Lyons took his local voice national with PBS’ Sneak Previews, which had a 14-year run. Most recently, Lyons brought the “Den” to WNBC. His 13-year run included a syndicated Reel Talk that he created.

With the Oscars being polished up for Sunday’s 85th annual event, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to speak to Lyons and pick his brain about the contenders and possible surprises.

“My upset pick is Hugh Jackman for Best Actor for Les Mis,” Lyons tells FishbowlNY. “Jackman gave one of the great performances I’ve ever seen.”

He expects Daniel Day-Lewis, though, will nab his record-setting third Best Actor for his portrayal of America’s 16th president.

The buzz is building for Steven Spielberg, director of Lincoln.

“I think he’s going to win. He has an Oscar pedigree,” Lyons says. “He hasn’t won enough to suit me. He’s the greatest filmmaker of our time … I’m glad to be alive in the Steven Spielberg era.”

As for Best Picture, Lyons picks the favorite among most moviegoers, and many critics, Argo.

“If it’s not Argo, I’m hoping for Zero Dark Thirty, my favorite film of the year. But I also adored Life of Pi.”

The Spielberg Civil War historical drama is also among the nine nominees, but Lyons isn’t planning it to win the night’s top prize.

“It’s good for you. It’s like reading the National Geographic,” Lyons jokes. “It’s like going to school and paying attention in history class.”

Each with Golden Globe victories, the Best Actress trophy pits Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) against Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook). He gives the advantage to the 22-year-old, two-time nominee.

“She made, what was becoming for me, a rather slow moving, silly movie into something fascinating.”

Silver Linings Playbook registered a rare Oscar grand slam with nominations in all four acting categories. The Master received three acting nods, including Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a feat that leaves Lyons to scratch his head.

“What any of the nominees for The Master are doing up there, I don’t know,” Lyons contends. “[It was] the year’s most annoying. depressing, unwatchable film.”

On the topic of rare achievement, it’s a first in the Best Supporting Actor category, as all five nominees are previous winners. Lyons thinks Robert DeNiro will take home Oscar number three.

While that would seem unexpected to some, Lyons is sticking to the “script” for Supporting Actress, with Anne Hathaway for her powerful role in Les Miserables.

“That’s close to a lock. Everybody else is deserving in the category except for Amy Adams, because I hated The Master.”

Photo credit: oscars.org

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