12 January 2014 1:19 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

It's been a vintage year for Hollywood – and the big studios are now lobbying hard in a tight and high-stakes race

A diet of bubblegum blockbusters and inane sequels has exposed Hollywood for years to accusations of undermining western civilisation, or at the very least dumbing it down. Who could emerge from the likes of Battlefield Earth, Showgirls and Basic Instinct 2 and not wonder at Tinseltown crassness? How could an industry with so much money and talent produce so much junk?

You don't hear such questions these days. A run of exceptional films has restored Hollywood's cultural credentials and fuelled some of the most intense awards campaigning in living memory.

Studios, actors and directors are slugging it out – and allegedly slinging mud – in what promises to be a vintage season for gongs, starting with the Golden Globes on Sunday and climaxing with the Oscars in March. "For a time, »

- Rory Carroll

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