The reviews for this seem to be similar to those of Avatar a couple of years ago: A script that is lacking, but a directorial vision that overcomes it to be a visually stunning film. In terms of technical awards, I definitely think this one is in play. And considering Lee's popularity, and its positive reviews, it could definitely be in contention for some of the bigger prizes as well, particularly director and picture.
Justin Chang at Variety believes that on a visual level it is amazing, but falls short on the dramatic aspect:
"A literal crouching tiger is merely one of many visual wonders in Ang Lee's "Life of Pi," a gently transporting work of all-ages entertainment that melds a harrowing high-seas adventure with a dreamy meditation on the very nature of storytelling. Summoning the most advanced digital-filmmaking technology to deliver the most old-fashioned kind of audience satisfaction, this exquisitely beautiful adaptation of Yann Martel's castaway saga has a sui generis quality that's never less than beguiling, even if its fable-like construction and impeccable artistry come up a bit short in terms of truly gripping, elemental drama."
Todd McCarthy was also pretty high on the film writing:
"Creating a plausible, ever-changing physical world was the first and over-arching technical challenge met by the effects team. The extra step here was rendering a tiger that would be believable in every way, from its violent movements and threatening stares to its desperate moments when, soaked through and starving, it attempts to claw its way back on board the small boat. With one passing exception -- a long shot of the tiger making its way through a sea of meerkats that’s a bit off -- the representation of Richard Parker is extraordinarily lifelike.The leap of faith required for Lee to believe this could be put up onscreen in a credible way was necessarily considerable. His fingerprints are at once invisible and yet all over the film in the tact, intelligence, curiosity and confidence that characterizes the undertaking."
Eric Kohn at Indiewire gave it B+, as the screenplay wasn't quite up to par of the rest of the film, which is spectacular:
"Yann Martel's bestselling 2001 novel "Life of Pi" followed the young Indian survivor of a shipwreck stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger -- the kind of high concept scenario both easy to comprehend and difficult to envision in movie terms. Much of the story, narrated by its spiritually minded protagonist, contains prolonged philosophical discussions and remains tethered to an extremely minimalist setting. That Ang Lee has managed to turn the limitations of his source material into his adaptation's greatest strength makes "Life of Pi" a significant achievement for the filmmaker in spite of blatant problems with structure, dialogue and other surface issues. "Life of Pi" succeeds in its most audacious moments and struggles whenever it returns to familiar ground."