How much Oscar karma does Steven Spielberg command, having won two Best Director statues already for 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan? So much Oscar karma that his what-price-revenge drama Munich, about the aftermath of the assassination of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics, was declared an Academy Awards front-runner even before it started filming back in July. (That’s right: While the rest of the world was busy debating the sanity of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds star Tom Cruise, Spielberg was already well into this next project, which wrapped principal photography only in late September.)
Eric Bana (Hulk, Troy) stars as a Mossad operative leading a team assigned to eliminate the Palestinians held responsible for the Olympic murders; Geoffrey Rush plays a mysterious overseer. Already taking some flak as both a presumed pro-Israeli tract and an apologia for the Palestinians, the movie promises to dominate not just awards-season talk but political debate well into the new year.