For 82 out of 86 Oscar years the directors have controlled the way Best Picture has been handed down. They matter. They are what the Academy was built to do: professionals deciding the best of the year. The entire Academy has looked to them for guidance in almost every year of their existence.  Yet this year, suddenly, they don’t matter. What they think doesn’t matter. They are being passed over.   I have to say, that blows my mind just a little.

14,500 DGA members thought Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper should join Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg as the Best Directors of 2012.  But their nominations came out after Oscar ballots had already been turned it. Without the DGA to guide them the directors branch at the Academy did what they wanted to do: they picked the five films they thought were the best of the year: Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Michael Haneke’s Amour.

Why does it matter that the directors decided on five different films to win if the whole Academy gets to decide, you might ask? We might be heading into an era where it no longer matters at all. After all, the Oscar race has morphed into a flea circus and the race itself has begun to resemble a reality show, like Dancing with the Stars or the Amazing Race;  You have to win the moment by having a compelling “Oscar story.” An Oscar story isn’t: Kathleen Kennedy the most nominated producers in the history of the Academy has never won an Oscar, Steven Spielberg bringing a beloved project to the big screen after 13 years, or that movie about ideas earning an unbelievable $170 million.  An Oscar story sure to capture Hollywood’s attention is “Ben Affleck didn’t get nominated for Best Director.”  It is art imitating life because Argo is about Tony Mendez who did a great thing then didn’t get recognition for it. Rewarding Affleck is like rewarding his character and believe me, that is irresistible.

In an ordinary Oscar year, we pundits would simply look at the two who were nominated by both the Academy and the Directors Guild to find our DGA winner.  But one of those snubbed directors was a movie star.  So when he got snubbed it felt to many as if someone they knew had gotten the shaft.  The sting from that was palpable throughout the awards scene — suddenly, Argo was seen as the favorite.  It helped that the other “Middle East movie” had been swift-boated right out of the Oscar race.  That makes this year not an ordinary year and it’s probably why Ben Affleck will win on Saturday.

Whether he wins or not is beyond our control.  Whether he should win or not is not up to us to decide.  That won’t stop us from taking sides and building our case. For my money no one directed a more important, brilliantly made, resonate film as Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.  Right after Lincoln is Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour and then Argo.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love Argo — it just means Lincoln is the greater achievement, whether it set the fanboys’ pants on fire or not, whether it appeals to every person in every country or not.

But I know there’s mostly nothing that can stop momentum like this, not even having the lack of a Best Director nod.  It helps that Argo the movie is full of likability.  Likable characters, likable stories – America, more specifically HOLLYWOOD, as likable heroes.  In Zero Dark Thirty we must deal with our ugly selves and the darker aspect of our history. In Argo no such dilemma exists — America does the right thing. Movies do the right thing. Movies are good for the world. Movies can save the world.

Argo is involving and suspenseful, funny and satisfying. The acting is great, the writing tight and full of wit — it makes audiences feel like Hollywood insiders — we get the jokes about associate producers and the Golden Globes and Argofuckyourself! It’s full of memorable lines like “This is the best bad idea we have,” and its star is Ben Affleck.  Lock and load.

So why then did the directors branch of the AMPAS choose other films?  What about Argo made the directors not want to award it?  Sure, it lacked an “Oscar story” early on but the movie was still the movie.   It could be that they assumed Affleck was a done deal so they’d put their votes elsewhere.  It could be that they genuinely liked Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild more. It could be that some of them really just don’t like Ben Affleck or it could be that for Hollywood insiders Argo isn’t as funny as it is for Hollywood outsiders. Moreover, it does have the line, “you can teach a rhesus monkey to be a director in a day.”

The heart and soul of the Best Picture race has traditionally been nestled in the Best Director category. Right behind that is usually screenplay and editing. From the looks of it, Argo is about to take all three.

Affleck has another thing going for him.  If you look at the past winners for the DGA you’ll see that they have often picked first-timers to win, going back to 2008:

Boyle – Slumdog
Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
Michel Hazinavicious – The Artist

Ben Affleck is the only first timer in the DGA lineup. If you couple that with his likable movie, his Oscar snub and his likable personality you get “most likely to win.”   But you have to kind of feel sorry for him. If his film wins Best Picture he’s always going to be that guy who won without a director nomination. He already has one Oscar at home for screenwriting and he’ll win one again for producing so it won’t be a total wash, but without the support of the directors branch his film and his win will always look less-so.  Until this year, Driving Miss Daisy was looked upon as the most unworthy winner in the past few decades.  It is only this year that it’s being trotted as a good thing, having won without that director nomination.

Moreover, Driving Miss Daisy was criticized for being a softie version of Do the Right Thing, a film that really WAS snubbed by the Academy, most undeservedly.  Driving Miss Daisy was Do the Right Thing lite as Argo is Zero Dark Thirty lite.  Despite how enjoyable and funny Argo is history will not take to it kindly, I don’t think.  I might be wrong about that but time will tell.

It is a lament that Argo, like many of the films up for Best Picture, put women in traditional roles — wives or girlfriends. It’s even worse in Argo because men really do all the “serious” work. Women are to be protected from harm but they don’t seem to think for themselves. One of the great things about Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild and even Amour is that the female characters are vital and important. They don’t exist as non-people. It is not Argo’s job to fix sexism in our world. But I can’t help but wish Best Picture of the year didn’t feature such stereotypes.

The only upside to all of this is that there are a few more weeks of this madness and then we can put the dog and pony show back in its cage.

Predicted winner: Ben Affleck, Argo
Might win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Should win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln


DGA | Oscar

 *film nominated/+ won Best Picture at the Oscars


Steven Spielberg, Lincoln Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Ang Lee, Life of Pi Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Ben Affleck, Argo David O. Russell, Silver Linings
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty Michael Haneke, Amour
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild


Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist+
Martin Scorsese, Hugo Martin Scorsese, Hugo*
Alexander Payne, The Descendants Alexander Payne, The Descendants*
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris*
David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Terrence Malick, Tree of Life*


Tom Hooper The King’s Speech Tom Hooper the King’s Speech+
David Fincher, Social Network David Fincher, Social Network*
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan*
David O’Russell, The Fighter David O’Russell, The Fighter*
Christopher Nolan, Inception* The Coens, True Grit*


Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Bigelow, Hurt Locker+
Lee Daniels, Precious Lee Daniels, Precious*
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air Jason Reitman, Up in the Air*
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds*
Jim Cameron, Avatar Jim Cameron, Avatar*


Danny Boyle, Slumdog Danny Boyle, Slumdog+
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon*
Gus Van Sant, Milk Gus Van Sant, Milk*
David Fincher, Benjamin Button David Fincher, Benjamin Button*
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Stephen Daldry, The Reader*


Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
Sean Penn, Into the Wild Jason Reitman, Juno*
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton*
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood*


Stephen Frears, The Queen Stephen Frears, The Queen*
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel*
Bill Condon, Dreamgirls Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima*
Faris and Dayton, Little Miss Sunshine* Paul Greengrass, United 93
Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+


Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain *
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck*
Paul Haggis, Crash Paul Haggis, Crash+
Bennett Miller, Capote Bennett Miller, Capote*
Steven Spielberg, Munich Steven Spielberg, Munich *


Alexander Payne for Sideways Alexander Payne for Sideways*
Martin Scorsese for The Aviator Martin Scorsese for The Aviator*
Taylor Hackford for Ray Taylor Hackford for Ray*
Marc Forster for Finding Neverland* Mike Leigh for Vera Drake
Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby+


Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation*
Clint Eastwood, Mystic River Clint Eastwood, Mystic River*
Peter Jackson, ROTK Peter Jackson, ROTK+
Peter Weir, Master and Commander Peter Weir, Master and Commander*
Gary Ross, Seabiscuit* Fernando Merielles, City of God


Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York Martin Scorsese*
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings* Pedro Almodovar
Roman Polanski, The Pianist Roman Polanski*
Rob Marshall, Chicago Rob Marshall+
Steven Daldry, The Hours Steven Daldry*


Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings Peter Jackson, LOTR*
Christopher Nolan, Memento Robert Altman, Gosford Park*
Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down
Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge* David Lynch, Mulholland Drive


Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot*
Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Ridley Scott, Gladiator Ridley Scott, Gladiator+
Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich *
Steven Soderbergh, Traffic Steven Soderbergh, Traffic*


Frank Darabont, The Green Mile* Lasse Hallstrom, Cider House Rules*
Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich Spike Jonze, Being John Malkovich
Michael Mann, The Insider Michael Mann, The Insider*
Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty+
M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense*


Peter Weir, Truman Show Peter Weir, Truman Show
Terrence Malick, Thin Red Line Terrence Malick, Thin Red Line
John Madden, Shakes in Love John Madden, Shakes in Love*
Steven Spielberg, SPR Steven Spielberg, SPR
Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful


James L. Brooks As Good As It Gets* Peter Cattaneo, The Full Monty*
Steven Spielberg Amistad Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter
Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting Gus Van Sant, Good Will Hunting*
James Cameron, Titanic James Cameron, Titanic+
Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential*


Cameron Crowe, Jerry Maguire* Milos Forman for The People vs. Larry Flynt
Joel Coen, Fargo Joel Coen, Fargo*
Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies Mike Leigh, Secrets & Lies *
Anthony Minghella, The English Patient Anthony Minghella, The English Patient+
Scott Hicks, Shine Scott Hicks, Shine*


Mike Figgis for Leaving Las Vegas Mike Figgis for Leaving Las Vegas
Mel Gibson for Braveheart Mel Gibson for Braveheart+
Ron Howard for Apollo 13* Chris Noonan for Babe*
Ang Lee for Sense and Sensibility* Tim Robbins for Dead Man Walking
Michael Radford for Il Postino Michael Radford for Il Postino*


Mike Newell for Four Weddings and a Funeral* Woody Allen for Bullets Over Broadway
Frank Darabont for The Shawshank Redemption* Krzysztof Kieslowski for Red
Robert Redford for Quiz Show Robert Redford for Quiz Show*
Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction*
Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump+


Andrew Davis for The Fugitive* Robert Altman for Short Cuts
Jane Campion for The Piano Jane Campion for The Piano*
James Ivory for The Remains Of the Day James Ivory for The Remains Of the Day*
Martin Scorsese for The Age Of Innocence Jim Sheridan for In the Name Of the Father*
Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List+


Robert Altman for The Player Robert Altman for The Player
Rob Reiner for A Few Good Men* Martin Brest for Scent Of a Woman*
Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven Clint Eastwood for Unforgiven+
James Ivory for Howards End James Ivory for Howards End*
Neil Jordan for The Crying Game Neil Jordan for The Crying Game*


Barbra Streisand for The Prince Of Tides* John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood
Oliver Stone for JFK Oliver Stone for JFK*
Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise Ridley Scott for Thelma & Louise
Barry Levinson for Bugsy Barry Levinson for Bugsy*
Jonathan Demme for The Silence Of the Lambs Jonathan Demme for The Silence Of the Lambs+


Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part III Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part III*
Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves+
Barry Levinson for Avalon Stephen Frears for The Grifters
Martin Scorsese for GoodFellas Martin Scorsese for GoodFellas*
Giuseppe Tornatore for Cinema Paradiso Barbet Schroeder for Reversal Of Fortune

For the win only

+also won Best Picture

(best picture that didn’t match director)

2010 Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech+
2009 Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker+
2008 Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire+
2007 Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country+
2006 Martin Scorsese, The Departed Martin Scorsese, The Departed+
2005 Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain* (Crash+)
2004 Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood, MDB+
2003 Peter Jackson, Return of the King Peter Jackson, Return of the King+
2002 Rob Marshall, Chicago Roman Polanski, The Pianist (Chicago)
2001 Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind+
2000 Ang Lee, Crouching Tiger Steven Soderbergh, Traffic (Gladiator)
1999 Sam Mendes, American Beauty Sam Mendes, American Beauty+
1998 Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg (Shakespeare in Love)
1997 Jim Cameron, Titanic Jim Cameron, Titanic+
1996 Anthony Minghella, English Patient Anthony Minghella, English Patient+
1995 Ron Howard, Apollo 13 Mel Gibson, Braveheart+
1994 Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump+
1993 Seven Spielberg, Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List+
1992 Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven+
1991 Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme, Silence of the Lambs +
1990 Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves+
1989 Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July (Driving Miss Daisy – director Beresford not nommed for Oscar or DGA)
1988 Barry Levinson, Rain Man Barry Levinson, Rain Man+
1987 Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor Bernardo Bertolucci, Last Emperor+
1986 Oliver Stone, Platoon Oliver Stone, Platoon+
1985 Steven Spielberg, Color Purple Sidney Pollack, Out of Africa+
1984: Milos Forman, Amadeus Milos Forman, Amadeus+
1983: James Brooks, Terms of Endearment James Brooks, Terms of Endearment+
1982: Richard Attenborough, Gandhi Richard Attenborough, Gandhi+
1981: Warren Beatty, Reds Warren Beatty, Reds (Chariots of Fire)
1980: Robert Redford, Ordinary People Robert Redford, Ordinary People+
1979: Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer Robert Benton, Kramer Vs. Kramer+
1978: Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter Michael Cimino, Deer Hunter+
1977: Woody Allen, Annie Hall Woody Allen, Annie Hall+
1976: John Avildson, Rocky John Avildson, Rocky+
1975: Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Milos Foreman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest+
1974: Frances Coppola, Godfather II Frances Coppola, Godfather II+
1973: George Roy Hill, The Sting George Roy Hill+
1972: Frances Coppola, The Godfather Bob Fosse, Cabaret (Godfather)
1971: William Friedkin, The French Connection William Friedkin, The French Connection+
1970: Franklin J. Schaffner, Patton Franklin J. Schaffner , Patton+
1969: John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy+
1968: Anthony Harvey, Lion in Winter Carol Reed, Oliver+
1967: Mike Nichols, The Graduate Mike Nichols, The Graduate (In Heat of the Night)
1966: Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons Fred Zinneman, A Man for all Seasons+
1965: Robert Wise, The Sound of Music Robert Wise, the Sound of Music+
1964: George Cukor, My Fair Lady George Cukor, My Fair Lady+
1963: Tony Richardson, Tom Jones Tony Richardson, Tom Jones+
1962: David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia David Lean, Lawrence of Arabia+
1961: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, West Side Story+
1960: Billy Wilder, The Apartment Billy Wilder, The Apartment+
1959: William Wyler, Ben Hur William Wyler, Ben Hur+
1958: Vincent Minnelli, Gigi Vincent Minnelli, Gigi+
1957: David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai David Lean, Bridge on the River Kwai+
1956: George Stevens, Giant George Stevens, Giant (Around/World in 80 Days)
1955: Delbert Mann, Marty Delbert Mann, Marty+
1954: Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront Elia Kazan, On the Waterfront+
1953: Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity Fred Zinnemann, From here to Eternity+
1952: John Ford, The Quiet Man John Ford, The Quiet Man (Greatest Show on Earth)
1951: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun George Stevens, A Place in the Sun (An American in Paris)
1950: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve+
1949: Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives (All the King’s Men)
1948: Joseph L. Mankiewicz for A Letter To Three Wives John Huston, Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Hamlet)
1947 Elia Kaza for Gentleman’s Agreement
1946 William Wyler for The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 Billy Wilder for The Lost Weekend
1944 Leo McCary for Going My Way
1943 Michael Curtiz for Casablanca
1942 William Wyler for Mrs. Miniver
1941 John Ford for How Green Was My Valley
1940 John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath (Rebecca)
1939 Victor Flemming, Gone with the Wind
1938 Frank Capra, You Can’t Take it With You
1937 Leo McCary, The Awful Truth (The Life of Emile Zola)
1936 Frank Capra, Mr. Deed Goes to Town (The Great Ziegfeld)
1935 John Ford, The Informer (Mutiny on the Bounty)
1934 Frank Capra, It Happened One Night
1933 Frank Lloyd, Calvalcade
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  • christiannnw

    Prediction: Tom Hooper, because of residual goodwill from “The King’s Speech” and a way to retroactively reward Mark Waters for “Mean Girls”.

  • Someone

    And I’m going to predict Ang Lee! 🙂 Who SHOULD win, obviously.

  • Sasha Stone

    And I’m going to predict Ang Lee! Who SHOULD win, obviously.

    That would be so awesome.

  • Harry

    I agree with so many things here.

    “Rewarding Affleck is like rewarding his character and believe me, that is irresistible.” For a while, this was the very reason I thought Lincoln was a shoo-in. Voting for Lincoln would be a vote FOR something, a vote in favor of compromise and cooperation at the highest levels of our government. If only …

    “In Zero Dark Thirty we must deal with our ugly selves and the darker aspect of our history. In Argo no such dilemma exists — America does the right thing. Movies do the right thing. Movies are good for the world. Movies can save the world.” I agree. This is exactly what I did NOT like about Argo. If only others felt the same.

    “Lock and load.” I like this. Nice touch.

    I keep thinking Argo isn’t a substantial enough movie to win Best Picture, but then I’m like, oh, duh, that’s exactly why it will win Best Picture.

  • Akumax

    I said after the Critics Choice Awards and I agree with you that Affleck missing the Oscar nom for best achievement in directing gave his film momentum but I strongly disagree when you interpret it has a “Oscar Story” and compare the awards season to a reality show. I think it is not that at all, we are talking about the best in cinema and films are there to speak for themselves: Argo is a great movie and not a reality contestant with a moving story that grabs attention and votes. In my opinion the momentum is due to the fact that a lot of people considered Affleck’s work in Argo deserving of a nomination and felt that the snub was unfair.

    Also, I agree with you Sasha when you say that “It could be that they assumed Affleck was a done deal so they’d put their votes elsewhere”. I think it is very probable and I’ve experience that here in the Awards Daily when on your website nomination ballot I decided to support films that I loved but felt weaker than Life of Pi, and Life of Pi was out of the nominations Awards Daily readers declared.

  • rufussondheim

    I think women do matter in Argo. The Housekeeper is a crucial character, and it’s her strength that allows the Americans to escape. All of the female hostages were equal to the men, just as strong, if not even stronger. And the Canadian Ambassador’s wife was another strong female character.

    Sure, none of them were at the forefront, and it would have been nice if some of the CIA people back in Washington were women, but this was 1979/1980 and, sadly, i doubt few women played roles at that time.

    Sometimes women just don’t play a role in a certain film (as sometimes men don’t play roles in other movies) and, overall, the female gender comes off way better in Argo than in some drivel like SLP where all of the female characters are two-dimensional shrewish background fodder for the men which are clearly front and center.

    Don’t blame Argo for the lack of a female character in a central role, blame Hollywood for not financing films in which women do get featured and blame moviegoers for not going to such films when they are made.

  • Akumax

    Sorry I’m writing on my phone and I make a mess.

    Consider also that Argo is set in 1980, I don’t think there were so many Maya in the CIA at the time… and rufussondheim is right pointing out that the housekeeper is a crucial character.

  • Question Mark

    The Oscar winner “needing a story” to win Best Picture is hardly a new occurrence. This is how it goes literally every year…

    2011: The Artist overcomes the odds as an underdog silent movie from France

    2010: The popular period piece about an important figure at a key time during a country’s history wins, carried by a great performance by a widely-liked star. (Interestingly, this is pretty similar to Lincoln’s ‘storyline’)

    2009: The underdog, little-seen Hurt Locker triumphs over the blockbuster Avatar (and the ex-wife beats the ex-husband, to boot)

    2008: The underdog Slumdog goes from festival afterthought to festival favourite and Oscar powerhouse

    2007: The Coens finally triumph

    2006: Scorsese finally triumphs

    2005: Kind of an outlier as this year the “story” was really that there are a lot of homophobes in the Academy.

    2004: The legend Clint Eastwood makes another great one

    2003: LOTR is one of the great achievements in moviemaking history

    2002: The musical is back!

    2001: Ron Howard’s makeup Oscar after the Apollo 13 snub

    The list goes on and on throughout Academy history. It’s always “the story” that leads a movie to an Oscar, not quality — if you had a critics’ consensus list of what the ‘best’ film of any given year was, it would match up with the Oscar Best Picture maybe a dozen times at most.

  • Zach


    You make good points, but it’s sad and ironic that Hollywood has the more serious version of Argo, directed by a female director, starring a woman, and it’s a box office hit (so far more than Silver Linings is! Who’da thought?) — and yet they don’t want anything to do with it. That’s not to say that the film is brilliant or accurate or that the female protagonist is so well-defined. It’s just that the Academy doesn’t do itself and the industry a great service when it constantly picks Do the Right Thing-lite.

  • The Pope

    I don’t really understand this notion of looking to the past to determine the future. Oscars only suggest how the voters voted that year. They have an overall tendency (comedies and biopics in the 30s, melodramas in the 40s, musicals and social-dramas in the 50s, bloated musicals in the 60s, brilliant/crap movies in the seventies, costume epics in the 80s, some Godawful films in the 90s and 00s), but that tendency also changes… (see above where some great pictures won).

    Argo… I thought was light on the ground. It occasionally touched on some potentially interesting things but in the end, the film is a hymn to Hollywood. And that is self-congratulatory BS.

    While I think the face off is now between Argo and Lincoln, I would be very surprised and to be honest, disappointed if Argo does win. Lincoln may not satisfy everyone now but I think the film will only improve with age. Argo will lighten and fade. Like A Beautiful Mind, which was a very, very compromised story about a real life character.

    The final reason I would prefer if Argo did not win is because I know that Affleck will improve as a director and get more ambitious. And I would prefer him to go onto better things knowing that the big win still awaits him.

    He is becoming Warren Beatty. Which is what George Clooney was for a while. Beatty didn’t win until he made Reds. Now THAT is a movie worth waiting for.

  • danny

    Ang lee is the only director who got DGA, Bafta, Oscar and Globe nominations for Best Director. Surely that speaks to a broad consensus, and I’m crossing my fingers that it means that he’s going to take the DGA. (I’m not sure he can take the oscar)

    Please DGA, make my day!

    Don’t get me wrong I love lincoln, argo and zd30 (les mis was unwatchable) but if life of pi works at all (and it really really works) it’s all down to the direction. Imagine the pitch. It’s a metaphysical bestseller that everyone says is unfilmable, and for two thirds of the movie it’s a single set with a character who essentially talks to himself. The other central character has to be entirely CGI for practical reasons and of course has no dialogue. Oh yeah and my lead actor has never acted before.

    And yet somehow he’s created something beautiful and moving and transcendent, my personal favourite film of the year. Oh and BTW it’s only the second time ever that anyone’s actually understood what 3d is for (I’m talking about Hugo, not smurfahontas). You may dispute it’s best picture credentials but you’ve got to admit that’s a stunning piece of direction.

    I know I’m going to be disappointed but I’d love to see Ang Lee get the recognition he deserves.

  • rufussondheim

    I hope Zero Dark Thirty is not seen as an anomaly and it’s success is not attributed to the subject matter.

    After seeing Strange Days (back in the day) and knowing that the James Bond series was floundering creatively, I was hoping that someone in Hollywood would get the bright idea to cast Angela Basset as the next 007. She would have been fantastic, I’m sure.

    Bassett’s performance in Strange Days is, in my opinion, the best female action performance I’ve seen. It’s a shame it never led to anything even greater.

  • Aragorn

    OMG. With that picture above Ben Affleck can win any award and i wouldnt mind it;))) yummmmm ;)))

    On a more serious note, for Oscar i hope for Spielberg. But Ang Lee is close second and i would be very happy for either. …for other three i dont have any attachment. Good for them if they win.

  • Roger

    “For 82 out of 86 Oscar years the directors have controlled the way Best Picture has been handed down.” I am confused by these numbers. This is Oscar’s 85th year. Is this a typo? As for 82, the DGA have not been giving awards that many years. This is only the 65th Annual DGA Awards. Then, of course, there have only been three Best Pictures that did not have a nominated director. I guess that is where the 82 comes from. I just know this, if I were a voting member of the Academy and I liked ARGO the best, I would vote for it with or without a Director nomination.”

  • JP

    “2010: The popular period piece about an important figure at a key time during a country’s history wins, carried by a great performance by a widely-liked star. (Interestingly, this is pretty similar to Lincoln’s ‘storyline’)”

    Agree. But somehow in the past decades, Americans have awarded biopics of foreigners personalities but only one one American. And only one (Amadeus), maybe two (The Last Emperor) are smartly written. The others are regular biopics… all of them good (not sure about Out of Africa) over sentimental. Lincoln doesn’t suit those standards. It didn’t go for the easy over sentimental way.

  • Ben looks fuzzy in that photo. 🙂

    But you have to kind of feel sorry for him. If his film wins Best Picture he’s always going to be that guy who won without a director nomination.

    I highly doubt that. He’s escaped all the horrible expectations people have had for him so far. And besides that, he’s not “that guy”. He’s already been “Ben Affleck” for many many years. Everyone knows him. He’s a household name. He’s not some director that normal folks haven’t heard of. And he’s just beginning. He’s going to keep making movies and there’s no telling how many Oscars he’ll end up with for Best Director. When it’s all said and done he could wind up with one more than Steven Spielberg. You don’t know.

  • TB

    There is no way in hell they would give Afflec and oscar. That’s why. It’s funny to me that he is being compared to Costner, Gibson or Eastwood. Why? The academy respected the hell out of them as actors (which is the largest voting body in the academy), that is why they got recognize by the oscars. Afflec does not have that respect within the actors branch, I can bet you on that.

    Remember people, we are talking about the Oscars, the most famous trophy in the world. (well maybe lombardi, but that is not given to individuals), you think they are going to give 50% of bennifer a directing oscar? not this year at least. How long did legends like Spielberg or Scorsese had to work for it? Hitchcock never got it. Neither did Chaplin, not competitive at least. Are we really that surprise that an academy made mostly of white, older petty voters snub a guy like Afflec? I’m not.

    The only person Mr. Afflec should thank when he receives the best picture oscar is his pal George Clooney. Afflec’s snub at the oscars is obviously helping, but that is nothing compared to Mr. Clooney’s work behind the scenes. He is pulling a Weinstein on Weinstein himself and i have no doubt he will pull it off. Because he is TRULY a likable star.

    Too bad for Lincoln though.

  • SallyinChicago

    I guess I’m the minority — again….I’m praying for an upset – BOTSW for the WIN! and Ang Lee for Director.

  • JP

    TB, (out of topic) I’m pretty much sure the most famous trophy in the World is FIFA’s World Cup. You pointed interesting things… But were Gibson and Costner that respected as actors? More than Affleck… But truly respectable? For this I really dont know the answer.

  • AnthonyP

    You forgot to add ” IMHO” at the end of the article, Sasha.

  • lily

    i agree TB. i’ve thought that before too, the difference with those other actor turned directors that won was that they were all really respected, BIG stars as actors with lots of good movies behind them. redford, beatty, eastwood, costner, even gibson at the time. that may be why ben affleck didn’t make it in- the directors branch sees him as a not-great actor and former tabloid star who tried to revitalize his career as a director- against all of them who are REAL directors. and they may still not think he deserves this win in the end, all these makeup guild awards could be turning off academy members, who knows? i’m holding out that the academy says FU to the guilds this year, just the same as they did with their nominations.

  • lily

    i also agree with the whole premise that the oscars are SO much about the director and that is so tied into picture. i mean, if it wasn’t there would be a hell of a lot more examples of movies winning without a director nom, or even splits in general, which are still rare. DMD is the SOLE exception here (because it’s hard to count wings and grand hotel, really), and that just does not mean nothing to me. i’m still skeptical about this, that this “feeling sorry” for ben affleck thing is going to carry through, or that it even exists in the academy. with actors maybe, but obviously not directors, and everyone else?

  • KT

    My awards (don’t really know what I would give Tom Hooper though?):

    Will win DGA Award: Ben Affleck, Argo – because it’s his time.

    And Three of My Favorite Directors:
    Should win DGA, Best-Directed Movie of the Year: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty – an extraordinary film, the product of a great director’s vision. Bigelow proves for the doubters that she is the real deal, one of the great filmmakers of our time. Extraordinary all around: acting, sound design, scoring, cinematography, screenplay. Very inspiring work, and resonates with Bigelow’s personal journey as a great auteur-driven work does. The finale is a tremendous moment of both uncertainty and emotional catharsis.

    Most Surprising Direction of the Year: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln – for turning in a film of extraordinary intimacy unlike any other film he has ever directed, focusing on interior spaces and putting the actors on center stage–I would argue perhaps his most personal work since E.T. Incredible mise-en-scene, recreating the atmosphere of the 1860s. A wonderful passion project and Spielberg is the vessel through which all emanated.

    Most Visionary Direction of the Year: Ang Lee, Life Of Pi – I include what I wrote for the Thanksgiving contest:
    It was many years since I’d watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but when I decided to sit down and see it again, I was astounded by how emotional it was for me. There’s a shot when Michelle Yeoh rides into Beijing where the camera tilts upward to reveal the vast city, and it reminded me how special this experience would be. And it certainly was. I absolutely love the bamboo forest scene, especially how Mu Bai and Jen pass each other along the bending tree. The sojourn in the desert, the legend of Wudan mountain, the final scene between the leads as they finally give in to emotion…this was a powerful film that could only be told by one person. I found myself similarly moved when I saw Life of Pi, by the combination of gorgeous cinematography and terrific storytelling. I think it is very clear. I am thankful for Ang Lee for his singular direction and inspiring films.

  • TB

    JP, as actors I can assure you they where more respected than Afflec. Just look at their respective filmography’s before they where nominated for director. Now look at Afflec. We might think that they don’t matter to the voters but they do. I mean, 5 years ago we where all wondering if Afflec’s career was over. This academy would rather recognize an unknown that come’s out of the blue with a great film than an establish filmmaker. Look at Cruise. He may be weird but he is as good an actor working today and 0 oscars. Hitchcock? Chaplin? How long did Paul Newman wait? Pacino? I’m telling you, this is a weird academy, and as Sasha always says, they like who they like… and they hate who they hate.

    That is why i am shocked almost no one is talking about the Clooney factor. It’s huge. It’s Weinstein x 10 with the actors branch. Add that to the Afflec snub and it is truly and unstoppable force. With the white, old, upper class, petty academy voter of course.

    But you may be right about Fifa’s World Cup.

  • menyc

    “I keep thinking Argo isn’t a substantial enough movie to win Best Picture”

    Wait a minute, is it Opposite Day? This is the Oscars we’re talking about!

  • This golden boy will win DGA.
    And would win the Oscar too.
    And his movie will win Best Picture.
    It´s right!

  • Akumax

    @ TB,

    “There is no way in hell they would give Afflec and oscar”

    Mr Affleck has already an Academy Award for best original screenplay. So, there is a way he deserved and won an Oscar. In a month he will have two. So much for not being respected…

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I love Ang Lee. He has quite the impressive filmography. He has that in common with and Haneke and Spielberg. Just because I’m bored my Top 5 Ang Lee. David O. Russel would come 4th in he line-up.

    1. Sense and Sensibility
    2. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
    3. Brokeback Mountain
    4. Ride with the Devil
    5. The Ice Storm

    BONUS: I’m one of the few who really likes Ang Lee’s Hulk, especially Nick Nolte’s performance 🙂

    By the way I still think David O. Russel’s filmography is superior to Ben Affleck’s; both in quantity and quality

  • bettekate

    I really don’t know what Lincoln’s impressive box office take has to do with it deserving or not deserving the Best Picture Oscar. Its the same film whether it earned $175m or $5m, isn’t it? And the Oscars are about rewarding the art, not commerce and politics…no? NO. So screw the Oscars.

  • TB

    Akumax, I was talking as in now!! When he won he was barely an unknown and it was a wonderful Oscar story. And I am pretty sure they where awarding Damon (the more likable star) more than Afflec. When he wins again, they will be awarding Clooney more than Afflec, that’s why I mention he should thank Clooney first and foremost.

    If he is so likable, why was he snub? If he wins, he will be winning with Two of the most likable stars in recent memory. Coincidence?

    Pay attention before answering man, I explained all this in my past comment.

  • TB

    Besides, remember that Damon and Driver where nominated, why wasn’t Afflec?

    Face it, he is not that likable within the academy. This is just a sympathy rush we are seeing because of the snub.

    Remember also that The Town was not nominated. But then again, The Town was not produce by mister Clooney.

  • Yvette

    ‘…Beatty didn’t win until he made Reds. Now THAT is a movie worth waiting for….’

    The Pope,
    That’s my whole issue with Argo. It’s NOT Reds. And Affleck is not Beatty….
    Maybe he will be one day, but Beatty had been around a while and been part of, as producer and actor, some pretty iconic, revolutionary films – Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo etc..-
    Affleck is not at that level.
    Reds was a sweeping epic wonder, like a Doctor Zhivago – with a political and historical backdrop, Beatty gave it a soulful, romantic center that did not take away from it’s intellect. You could feel Beatty’s passion for the project in every frame.
    That’s what I see in Lincoln. And decades after Jaws, Spielberg is still challenging himself and reaching new heights.
    I don’t want to see Affleck win so quickly, so easily for Argo, a well-made, feel-good, inoffensive ride.
    I like Affleck, but judging from his backstage reference to his ‘snub’ about knowing ‘what it feels like’ –
    Affleck seems to be buying into the hype. I think he just might think he IS Beatty.
    It took guys like Beatty years to develop passion projects….
    And these standing ovations are just further feeding his ego.

  • Akumax


    I did read only your first comment. And I don’t think you mentioned he already won. So I did pay attention.
    Anyway your point doesn’t convince me. He is respected, very, for how he manage to turn his career around. He made Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both solid movies. The snub helped Argo exactly because he his respected. If, like you say, he is not that respected nobody would have cared about the snub in the first place, we have seen so many snubs… why care about the one that occurred to Ben? Because the film and his work is beloved supported and respected more than we were expecting.

  • RA

    Honestly, I would be heartbroken if Ang Lee doesn’t win. He was the only director to be nominated by DGA, AMPAS, and BAFTA this year. Not only that, I personally feel like he deserves it the most. It just wouldn’t make any sense to me seeing the award go to anybody else.

  • kasper

    @Bryce: I really liked Ang Lee’s Hulk too at the time though I haven’t revisited it since. But I think think his masterpiece is The Ice Storm. They should retroactively give Sigourney Weaver that Oscar nomination. What’s amazing about Ang Lee is his refusal to stick with a singature style or genre. He’s always adapting to his source material without having to leave an obvious auteur imprint, which is actually quite commendable, and is not the same thing as saying he is without cinematic talent. One of my friends said Steven Soderbergh’s work are so different from each other, but I disagreed with her. I know when I’m watching a Steven Soderbergh movie. Anyway, I’m not the biggest Life of Pi fan, though my reservations have nothing to do with the stupid claim that it tries to shove religion down your throat. But I have liked his movies a whole bunch. As a teenager I wore out my copy of Eat Drink Man Woman VHS that my local small town video store let me have because I had rented it so many times. So if among the nominees, Spielberg doesn’t win, I’d be okay with Ang Lee at the DGA (and/or Haneke at the Oscars).


    If Ang Lee wins DGA , he would be a Three-time winners . (tie with Steven Spielberg)

  • Bryce Forestierir


    I saw THE ICE STORM shortly before seeing BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN for the first time in theaters. I remember liking a lot but I was maybe too young to maybe appreciate it. I need to revisit it, but I’m waiting for Criterion to come-up with the Blu-ray.

  • kasper

    And because I’m bored I’ll do my top 3 movies for each director nominated too:

    Ang Lee: 1) The Ice Storm, 2) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 3) Ride with the Devil

    Spielberg: 1) A.I. 2) Close Encounters 3) Jaws

    Haneke: 1) Code Unknown 2) The Piano Teacher 3) The White Ribbon *bonus: I would love
    an apartment like the one in Cache, serious envy

    Russell: 1) Flirting with Disaster 2) I <3 Huckabees 3) Three Kings

    Zeitlin: tbd

    Bigelow: 1) Near Dark 2) Strange Days 3) Point Break
    Affleck: 1) Gone Baby Gone 2) The Town 3) tbd
    Hooper: tbd

  • Watermelons

    If Affleck wins, I’m going to place a biiiiiiig bet on Argo winning the prestigious The King’s Speech Award for Superlative Cinema (formerly known as Academy Award for Best Motion Picture).

  • Bob Burns

    so odd year after year…. compare the direction of Argo to Moonrise Kingdom and you can’t help but wonder about the years when the direction is so dry.

    as far as I’m concerned, everything else aside, Spielberg deserves an Oscar for his collaboration with DDL… the creation of high art.

    Ben is the new Clint.

  • unlikely hood

    I’m only gonna say this once. No one has said it at all, to my knowledge.
    Argo won the Golden Globe for Drama 3 days after the Oscar nods were announced – the GG voters could not *possibly* have known about “poor Ben Affleck” and his snub.

    So, it is possible to like Argo and not be riding Ben’s pity party pony.

    Personally, I prefer almost any of the other nominees – I’d prefer Zero Dark Thirty! – but this point had to be made once.

    That is all.

  • Nic V

    ***Driving Miss Daisy was Do the Right Thing lite as Argo is Zero Dark Thirty lite. Despite how enjoyable and funny Argo is history will not take to it kindly, I don’t think. I might be wrong about that but time will tell.***

    Don’t get me wrong. I also think Argo is a pretty damn good film. But as I sat last night and watched Argo win the ensemble award I thought to myself “something is just wrong here…”. I also happen to agree that time will not be kind to this film. It will always be regarded as a fine effort with capable performances a good script and damn good direction but in time I think it will come under fire when compared to Lincoln and Zero or Pi and in some respects even Silver Lining. It certainly deserves to be considered. It certainly should be nominated. Affleck should have been nominated. It’s the little train that could but in reality shouldn’t have.

  • PaulinJapan

    It’s just a strange quirk of the season that Affleck was not nominated. If he had been he would have won. It is likely he’ll win DGA and BAFTA, for which Spielberg wasn’t even nominated. Another quirk.

  • Harry


    Read the rest of the sentence. I beat you to it.

  • steve50

    The most telling stat from looking at the chart is that 9 times someone who was better known for their work in front of the camera won the DGA, sometimes on a first effort, sometimes later in their career (and sometimes more than once).

    Costner and Redford beating Scorsese on their first tries (Good Fellas and Raging Bull, are you ready?), Eastwood beating Scorsese for his second win (Altman with his first), tells me that the DGA loves a high profile success over the visionary.

    Affleck did a hell of a better job than his two predecessors, so I think he’s in.

    Sticking with Ang Lee in my heart because he created my favorite film this year. Bigelow or Spielberg winning would make me smile because of the chances they took and the unbelievable amount of bullshit they had to deal with as a result.

    I can’t really bitch if Affleck wins it. There will be a backlash, but far, far less than in recent years. Argo may not find a place in the historical pantheon and could eventually evaporate, but it’s the moment that counts.

  • Andre

    it WOULD be SO awesome (and well-deserved) if Ang Lee won, but, as I’ve said before… with the exception of Tom Hooper – LOVED “The King’s Speech”, but did NOT like his work in “Les Mis” – would ANY of the other 4 nominees be such a bad choice?

    Between the 5 DGA nominees, I’d personally choose Kathryn Bigelow… even though I was slightly underwhelmed by ZDT, it is still, in my opinion, the strongest work of a filmmaker’s vision amongst these 5. Spielberg is a VERY close number 2. I loved “Lincoln”, and I’ve seen it twice so far.

    I DO have to say, though, as someone who has spent the better part of my life struggling with bipolar disorder – and, minus Jennifer Lawrence, whose life was almost LITERALLY the plot of SLP (right down to the delusional “she’ll take me back” thoughts)- I’d not mind it AT ALL if it wins BP. in fact, I can honestly say that this is the film I’d show my family and friends so they can get what I’ve been going through all this time.

    but it is NOT the best directorial work of the year. I’d vote for Haneke, if I had to choose.

    SLP speaks to me and my family (I saw my mum and my brothers in DeNiro and Weaver SO MANY TIMES) and it’s a lovely film. and it has fine direction (no hack director is THAT good with actors). but Best Director should go to the visionaries… and, honestly, the only visionaries I can think of this year are Haneke; PTA; Tykwer and the Wachowskis; Leos Carax; Audiard (LOVED “Rust and Bone”), Bigelow (even if I don’t love her film, it is still a VERY strong director’s statement); Spielberg (his restraint is paradoxically married to his talent here) and Lee (a master at his peak).

    this is a huge comment and I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say when I started it. I’ll just reiterate that, even if your favourite film does not win the Oscar, you were STILL alive when it came out. and that’s quite something. =)

  • Andre

    *** the “whose” in the third paragraph refers to me, not Jennifer Lawrence.

    poor writing on my part.

    sorry everyone!

  • Sasha Stone

    Argo won the Golden Globe for Drama 3 days after the Oscar nods were announced – the GG voters could not *possibly* have known about “poor Ben Affleck” and his snub.

    That’s true but I would have thought Argo would win the Globe no matter what. It’s their kind of movie and they worship at the scrotum of George Clooney. But your point is well taken. If it was THAT strong, though, it would have easily gotten a director nod. Its strength increased tenfold after his snub.

  • The Zach

    For 82 out of 86 Oscar years the directors have controlled the way Best Picture has been handed down.

    Since this upcoming cermony is the 85th Academy Awards, I think that sentence is in need of an edit…

  • JP

    My point is exactly in the direction of what Sasha said. Lincoln/Spielberg whatever haters will say Argo would win all those trophies without the snub. I totally disagree. And I don’t get why the calendar hurt Affleck but didn’t hurt Spielberg or Lee or O. Russell from getting a Best Director nomination. If it was THAT strong then it would have gotten directing nomination. Was Argo really in disadvantage in comparison to BOTSW’s unknown 26 director whose film didn’t show any Alan Alan Arkin nor is produced by any George Clooney, who had to split Fox Searchlight’s attention with their heavy mistake that was releasing Hitchcock out of nowhere thinking it would become a contender? Oh… it was early voting. Has any of the frontrunners missed in 2004 when the Oscars came to february changing the whole dynamics of the race? We had surprises but Peter Jackson or Sean Penn… those didn’t miss. Was there an early voting to blame for in 1995 when frontrunners Ang Lee and Ron Howard were snubbed?

    If i had the opportunity to talk to any Academy member, I would say: what was your biggest mistake… snubbing Ben for Argo or making Kathleen Kennedy lose for 8 times, including the outrageous E.T. vs Gandhi. Snubbing Ben or snubbing Spielberg for Jaws and The Color Purple and making he loose both Picture/Directing for E.T. in one of the biggest mistakes ever.

    As I said in another post… wishful thinking… If David Fincher, was the early frontrunner and who has a long resume, was snubbed in 2011 would there be any kind of commotion?

    And another thing… if there’s a HEAVY overdue American director competing for an Oscar this year the name of the guy is TIM BURTON. And it could be the only chance he ever has to get an Oscar. And nobody seems to care about that.

  • Linc4jess

    Its ironic that this year will be a year similar to the year Spielberg won the DGA but was not nominated as best director by the Academy. This year it will probably be Affleck winning and he is not nominated by the Academy as best director. Lets also remember that the year Spielberg wasn’t nominated as Best Director but won the DGA Spielberg’s film although nominated for 11 Oscar didn’t win any. Will the same fate mirror Affleck’s “Argo”. Could we be seeing history repeat itself.

  • MauiJim

    I’m tired of being surprised by all these Argo wins.

    WILL WIN: Affleck
    COULD WIN: Lee
    SHOULD WIN: Spielberg

  • The Dude

    “Costner and Redford beating Scorsese on their first tries (Good Fellas and Raging Bull, are you ready?), Eastwood beating Scorsese for his second win (Altman with his first), tells me that the DGA loves a high profile success over the visionary. ”

    Costner and Redford are fine, but both Eastwood movies are EASILY better than theirs- none of them ranks among their director’s best movies. Unforgiven is easily one of the greatest movies ever.

    And I also don’t get why Eastwood begun to be disliked, getting poorer reviews, snubbed in major awards, etc, in the last 5 years or so. I wonder if it isn’t at least partially motivated for political reasons.

  • Bette

    “Until this year, Driving Miss Daisy was looked upon as the most unworthy winner in the past few decades.”

    Where do you get that from??? When you search the various film sites on the net, there’s little question that dubious honor belongs to Crash (see fun youtube link below), though there’s plenty of close contenders out there. Driving Miss Daisy is considered a four star film, and has fared better thru the years than some of its competition, like Dead Poet’s Society and the favorite, Born on the Fourth of July. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have nominated Daisy in a year with Do the Right Thing, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Drugstore Cowboy, When Harry Met Sally and deserving nominees Field of Dreams and My Left Foot, among other very fine films that year, but it is not considered by many to be a mediocre film the way so many others are.

    And when you say “least deserving”, do you mean worst? Crash, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Shakespeare in Love, Braveheart, etc. all have far more detractors than Daisy (a Pulitzer winner, good course material). Or, when you say least deserving, do you mean that other films were more worthy to win, rendering Daisy “least”? I like Ordinary People a lot, and its considered an excellent film, but Raging Bull is deemed top 50 in the world cinema pantheon, it just isn’t close.

    There are many examples over the years, but any way you look at it, while Driving Miss Daisy is not considered by many critics and/or film historians to have been the Best Picture of 1989, and therefore undeserving of the Oscar, it is hardly alone in that regard, I defy anyone on this website to find 5 winners that were truly “Best” in the past three decades, say from 1980 on. Even an outstanding winner like No Country for Old Men is already considered to be the distant of #2 film of 2007 behind There Will Be Blood, rising in the pantheon quickly (those LA Film Critics seem to know what they are doing the past decade or so). The Oscars are almost always wrong, a farce.

  • Brian

    Is it bizarre that I think the film that history will look kindest on is Les Miserables? Outside the scrutiny of Oscar season, it will simply be a fine translation of a beloved musical. Mary Poppins for moms.

  • Mel

    After seeing Strange Days (back in the day) and knowing that the James Bond series was floundering creatively, I was hoping that someone in Hollywood would get the bright idea to cast Angela Basset as the next 007. She would have been fantastic, I’m sure.
    Bassett’s performance in Strange Days is, in my opinion, the best female action performance I’ve seen. It’s a shame it never led to anything even greater.

    And of course, Bigelow directed Strange Days. Could you imagine that after Daniel Craig’s contract is up? Go with a female Bond and have Bigelow direct! I really love Daniel Craig, btw.

  • Linc4Jess

    The films nominated with a director attached to them with the longest running time will win the OSCAR. That would be “Lincoln” at 2 hrs 25m. “Lincoln” also has the most nominations and that film usually wins. The film that wins the Adapted Screenplay award usually wins best picture. That would be “Lincoln”. The film that is the best picture also along with Best Director also has a BEST ACTOR win Attached to it. That film would be “Lincoln”. And if wins film editing then what else does anyone need to know. This said, “Les Miserables” will probably sneak in and win it all.

  • Bette

    “If i had the opportunity to talk to any Academy member, I would say: what was your biggest mistake… snubbing Ben for Argo or making Kathleen Kennedy lose for 8 times, including the outrageous E.T. vs Gandhi. Snubbing Ben or snubbing Spielberg for Jaws and The Color Purple and making he loose both Picture/Directing for E.T. in one of the biggest mistakes ever.”

    The meandering Gandhi should not even have been nominated in 1982, E.T. was undoubtedly the far superior achievement, but don’t forget Blade Runner was also a 1982 release. It was one of only 3 English language films from the 1980s to make the Sight & Sound 101 greatest films back in August (at the critics’ poll, the others being Raging Bull and Blue Velvet). It is more revered than even E.T. by critics and film historians. So the Academy chose the wrong film among their nominees, and didn’t even nominate the true best picture of its year [I would also have dumped Missing and The Verdict for Sophie’s Choice and Victor/Victoria…no nomination ever for Blake Edwards, unfair].

    To my way of thinking, the Academy director’s branch actually got it right back in 1985 by snubbing Spielberg for Color Purple. Its a moving film no doubt, but that’s thanks to Alice Walker’s beautiful novel and a fine cast. The source material is just too good. His direction of Oprah was flat out off, and the film had too many lulls. Akira Kurosawa for Ran took Spielberg’s spot, its kind of hard to argue with that (yeah of course they could have ditched someone else instead, but it was a pretty strong line-up; I would have nominated Terry Gilliam for Brazi, however, and snubbed Hector Babenco for Spider Woman).

    As for the 1975 snub, that’s a closer call. Needless to say Spielberg was very worthy, but what a line-up, one of the strongest ever. Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Altman’s Nashville were solidly listed on the critics list of top 100 ever at Sight & Sound (the former is a personal favorite). Cuckoo’s Nest made the director’s list. Fellini’s Amarcord just missed the top 100 at both lists, made it back in 2002 (with Jaws nowhere near; no Spielberg film has ranked in the critics top 100 at Sight & Sound). That leaves Sidney Lumet’s brilliant and incendiary Dog Day Afternoon, also revered. I think reasonable minds can differ as to which should have been snubbed. Again, what a year, and that doesn’t even include world masterpieces that weren’t even close to the Academy’s radar, like Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (listed as one of the top 20 films ever made), Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielmann (top 50; now there’s a woman director who was royally snubbed), Theo Angelopoulos’ (sp?) The Traveling Players (top 110), Wim Wenders’ Kings of the Road, Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger, etc. These directors are as (or more) revered than Michael Haneke and Massimo Troisi (Il Postino) and Roberto Begnini (Life is Beautiful), so if those foreign language films can compete for Best Picture at the Oscars, why can’t these? They were duly released. One easy answer is no box office, but is that an excuse?

  • Brian

    “I defy anyone on this website to find 5 winners that were truly “Best” in the past three decades, say from 1980 on.”

    Sigh. I can think of a few years where my personal favorite was nominated, but actual winners are scarce to one. Poor Hope and Glory, Quiz Show, Fellowship, Howards End, LA Confidential and There Will be Blood.

  • Brian

    My god Bette, do you work at Sight and Sound?

  • newyorker27

    I think this year is an anomaly due to the timing of when Oscar ballots are due so previous stats may not apply.

    If deadline for Oscar ballots are delayed and will come after the guild nominations, Ben Affleck would have been nominated for BD and may cruise through a mild sweep at the Oscars… or perhaps if he got nominated, Argo would not have the sympathy vote, allowing Lincoln to win.

    To be fair, Affleck should not be reduced to a narrative, because underneath that narrative is a great film and a true directorial accomplishment.

    However, for sheer brilliance, talent and difficulty of work, Ang Lee should win both DGA and Oscar.

    That is all.

  • rufussondheim

    Oh, I would love to see a female Bond, even though I love Daniel Craig in the role. Not sure how many more times Craig will want to play him. I think one more time for him should be sufficient. His version of Bond has had a nice character arc, but I think it’s time for it to end on a high note. The franchise has had it’s best films since the 60’s with Craig in it, but I think it’s his talent as an actor that has brought on some fresh directing talent which makes the films good.

    But after Craig is done, seeing a female Bond directed by a female would be exciting. And no Hollywood studio would touch it.

    Plus I don’t think Bigelow would be interested. If you read the closing paragraphs of the Time cover story you see that she seems to really be into the “ripped from the headlines” idea and at 61, I’m not sure that she has more than 5 films left in her (when you consider the rate she makes them) so there wouldn’t be much time left.

    I don’t know her name precisely (Deb Grahnik?) but the woman that directed Winter’s Bone, I bet she’s got a Bond film in her.

  • JP

    Poor Peter Weir, one of my favorite directors. Very very underrated guy. I would easily have given him two directing Oscars – for Witness (who lost to Out of Africa, a film I definitely consider worse than Driving Miss Daisy) and Dead Poets Society and a BP Oscar for 3 of his films – those two and The Truman Show.

    When Harry Met Sally is the non-Weinstein Company version of SLP awards-saying. Both are great films and had it gotten Weinsteins behind it, it could have gotten a bunch of nominations more, including a deserving BP one.

  • rufussondheim

    I love Bette. Even though I am a grown-ass adult, I would love it if you could adopt me and watch a new movie with me every night as you make me eat my green leafy vegetables. You would make me a better person!

  • Brian

    I thought we got two more Bond films from Craig (a reported two-parter). Is that not so? And I think Craig’s non-Bond demeanor (and Bourne) allowed them to push Casino Royale perhaps in directions not normally associated with Bond, freeing it somewhat. CR saved a franchise.

  • JP

    “I defy anyone on this website to find 5 winners that were truly “Best” in the past three decades, say from 1980 on.”

    I’m not putting my opinion of what was the best but since best will never be 100% and please everyone, general consensus whenever this discussion comes in movie websites seem to indicate something like that

    The Silence of the Lambs
    Schindler’s List (this one doesn’t belong only here… belongs to best ever)
    are the most unanimous and then:
    The Return of the King (for the trilogy… already seen many saying
    American Beauty (divisive with The Insider)
    No Country for Old Men (divisive with TWBB)

    I personally think they got it right all those times, with the exception of No Country for Old Men (I prefer There Will Be Blood).

  • Mel

    Plus I don’t think Bigelow would be interested. If you read the closing paragraphs of the Time cover story you see that she seems to really be into the “ripped from the headlines” idea and at 61, I’m not sure that she has more than 5 films left in her (when you consider the rate she makes them) so there wouldn’t be much time left.

    Ahh. I have not read the Time piece, yet. I need to buy it to own it though. If she got the right script, maybe she would. I can always hope. She’s one of the best action directors of all-time and it would certainly suit her. I remember when I was in HS and Point Break came out, Patrick Swayze was supporting it on either Tonight Show or Letterman and kept raving about her and called her, “Bad Ass Bigelow” and I was so excited to realize a WOMAN directed that.

  • Greg

    Argo is the unquestionable front runner here. The DGA traditionally goes to the popular film which is dominating in the major Guild categories or its the one which took home major Best Director trophies. Argo has done both.

    Pi and Lincoln are the spoilers.

  • Unlikely hood

    Sasha thanks for answering. Affleck’s failure to get that BP nod just seems like an aberration of history now. It’s like if you process enough Snickers bars, one will have a mouse head. God knows what the 370 Academy directors were thinking. Maybe that their friends would nominate Affleck and they could feel free to recognize Haneke and Zeitlin. Who knows.


    Blade Runner and Brazil were genre films at the worst time – post-Star Wars. Apparently, it took til 2012 for Hollywood to appreciate the immediate power of the Jedi action figures, as seen during the final shot of Argo.

    About 1975, there is an answer there, as you suggested when you mentioned box office. The studios picked up the ball they’d once dropped, and art houses of the 1960s were overrun with American product in the 1970s – porn, blaxploitation, Easy Rider rip-offs, and weird idiosyncratic films of the New Hollywood. By 1975, if your name wasn’t Fellini or Bergman, your foreign art films weren’t getting half the traction they had 10 years before. This is one reason why many perfectly respectable cinephiles arrived at the Reagan administration without knowing who Tarkovsky was. (Things changed by the end of the 80s, partly due to the Cold War ending, partly because of video and improved titles, partly because art-houses – or now multiplex’s smallest screens – had no porn or the other films I mentioned to show.) Now I get that the Oscars’ foreign film branch should have forced itself to better know the films you mentioned. But this was a fragmented, disassociated world in 1975 – they didn’t have home video, they had to watch films in theatres, and even if 10 of them were *really* passionate about, say, The Traveling Players, they had almost no way to tell another 100. Mostly, the foreign companies didn’t pay for a lot of American press – one exception from that time was Picnic at Hanging Rock – showing that you COULD do it, but most didn’t.

  • It’s like if you process enough Snickers bars, one will have a mouse head.


  • Brian

    I don’t think Bette was serious with her 1975 bit. She simply looked up Sound and Screen’s retroactive lists and decided the Academy should have recognized those films because. I doubt half those titles mentioned were released anywhere near LA during the 1975 calendar year. I mean Jeanne Dielman is a fine movie in many respects, but good grief, the Oscars aren’t a front for Criterion.

    That said, I really enjoyed unlikely hood’s last post treating it as if it was serious. Some interesting history there.

  • The J Viewer

    Thanks for a good read and some thoughts on DGA, Sasha.

    In my opinion, the main players as far as DGA only, are Spielberg, Affleck and Ang Lee. It still goes either way to me at this point although if immediately needed, I say Ang Lee for Pi be a director’s film, to begin with; so, I need time to ponder more about the meaning of life : ) and return with my prediction later.

  • Hawkeye

    Most likely to win: Unfortunately Affleck is indeed in the lead to take it.

    Would make me extremely happy: Hooper coming out of nowhere just so Les Mis can get one of the big guilds, since it was robbed of its Best Ensemble award. But this won’t happen, so…

    Would be satisfied with: Spielberg, so Lincoln can mount a comeback to take down the overrated Argo. Sure, it’s unlikely, but not impossible. 12 nominations (vs. Argo’s seven) is still a really good sign that something could happen, as is the fact that Lincoln is favored in many of its categories (including many major ones like Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay).

  • JP

    Great to read some interesting stuff about 1975 and so on. To add some things to what I wrote, I always prefered E.T. over Blade Runner. Also: although nominated for directing, Close Encounters missed BP nom in favor of The Turning Point, The Goodbye Girl and Julia. And although Color Purple doesnt rank that high in my Spierbergs best List, it’s definitely much better than Out of Africa. 1975 was so tight… I still would nominated him. Jaws is the film that started to save Hollywood from a very deep crisis. Regarding Sight & Sound’s ranking, there’s always the good and the bad of using any rank but I have to say I can’t sit through a list of best ever that features Mulholland Drive and Some Like It Hot but not Gone With the Wind… And that pretends to be international but doesnt have latin film… Not even City of God. That’s always been my problem with the Academy giving a lot of suport to a foreign film. I was obviously very happy for City of God and Pans Labyrinth but it feels weird… As they only go for a foreign film once in a while, it seems like a clear try to look international when they are not really.

  • PJ

    Agree with Affleck win at DGA. Had him pegged since nominees announced. I think Affleck will sweep everything else from here to BAFTA. But that still leaves a gaping hole for at Oscar for best director.

  • mecid

    There is one consensus among Spielberg haters: If Spielberg’s film fails they they it is Spielberg’s fault but when it becomes hit they say it is because of screenplay, book, actor or whatever.

    You are so predictable.

  • Hawkeye

    What’s really interesting is that Argo only seems to be favored for Best Picture. Of course, things could change a little bit as other guilds start announcing, but that’s the way it looks right now. I don’t see it getting Sound Editing or Mixing (several other nominees seem far more likely to win). It’s not getting Supporting Actor. Score will most likely go to Life of Pi or Lincoln. Zero Dark Thirty is favored for Film Editing. Lincoln is favored for Adapted Screenplay (though if Argo is the favorite film of the night, there could be a surprise switch, as sometimes happens). So we could have either Argo winning the top prize and little or nothing else, or Lincoln winning top prize and taking a lot more (either way, Lincoln is positioned to win more).

  • Mattoc

    Mecid, are you:

    1. Steven Spielberg
    2. Kathleen Kennedy
    3. Kate Capshaw

  • mecid

    Mattoc, I am Honest Abe.

  • Ben Fan

    I thought the trick was not minding, Sasha?

    Stick to talking about Afros. Because it seems you do this every year. We know your position, and Argo doesn’t have to be dismissed twice a day until Oscar night. It’s a great film, and Ben Affleck’s finest directorial effort to date. Period.

    And in case you are blind, if Argo wins Best Picture, the real story will be the turnaround Ben Affleck has had in his career since the infamous Gigli. Everyone loves a second act, Sasha.

  • kasper

    Stick to talking about Afros.

    I give you props for packing racist and sexist undertones in one succinct condescending remark, Ben Fan. She is the editor of this here blog, and if you hate her angle on the Oscar race year after year, then why do you return (under a new name because I’m sure you weren’t Ben Fan in past Oscar races) to insult her, grousling and heckling and dodging about like a pettifogging Tammany Hall huckster, when you can simply disagree and explain your position. Ben Affleck’s fine; he shook off his Gigli/JLo past three solid directorial efforts ago.

  • kasper

    Ben Fan, are you:

    1. Tony Mendez
    2. Jennifer Garner
    3. Amy Irving

    Oh, I didn’t mean to italicize the whole of my above comment, just your quoted portion.

  • efe

    Well, Tom Hooper is not going to win because Ang Lee was better. Kathryn Bigelow is not going to win because this year’s snubbed person is, unfortunately, Affleck. And I really think it’s between Lee & Spielberg, because DGA was so terrible at matching Oscars this year, they would at least make sure that their winner has a shot at winning.

  • Sammy

    The name of the award is “Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film”. So if we look in this perspective two names get in front. Lee and Bigelow – Lee is the favorite.

    DGA is very important for Spielberg this year. If he loses then he will have no chance on getting the third BD award.

  • Alexander

    Can’t help but think TB has a point. Clooney is a big weapon for the sake of Argo. I’m sure a bunch of AMPAS members are enthralled by the idea of Clooney and Affleck, et. al., out there on the stage to end the Oscar telecast, as they did at the Golden Globes.

    But, there is that streak among AMPAS members to remain independent and not be told what to vote for. So Lincoln’s got a shot.

  • Koleś


    “I’m sure a bunch of AMPAS members are enthralled by the idea of Clooney and Affleck, et. al., out there on the stage to end the Oscar telecast”

    I can just imagine all these AMPAS voters looking at their ballots and going “Well now, who would I like to see up there on the stage do a little dance for me. Ohh, this one’s a hottie, I’ll go with him.” 🙂

    Give me a fucking break, please 🙂

  • Koleś

    “Does voting for Clooney and Affleck give me better chances at banging them in a threesome? Well, it sure as shit can’t make them any smaller. Gangbang with big boys it is. I’ll better vote for Argo everywhere I can, maybe then they’ll wear their Batman and Daredevil costumes.”

  • Alexander

    Brilliant, Koleś, brilliant! Wantonly mischaracterize and throw strawmen!

    I’m glad that there have never been any instances, ever, of Academy members being influenced, to one degree or another, by the spectacle of what they would be seeing on the stage, on *their* show, *their* night. What are they awarding all night? Movies. They live for staging dramatic or, in some way, shape or form, meaningful, groupings of individuals.

    Or did I imagine that Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola were utilized to hand out Martin Scorsese’s Oscar in the late winter of 2007? I guess that was an accident.

    I’m sure it was never, ever mentioned in the winter of 2005 that Jamie Foxx would be a good guy to see up on the stage for winning Best Actor.

    Meanwhile, I’m 100% certain that the fact that Heath Ledger tragically died a year earlier was never even the slightest factor in his Best Supporting Actor victory for The Dark Knight. It’s not like anyone could intuit that family members would accept the award in his place.

    Who are the biggest victims, so to speak? The most “exploited” if we want to use an ugly term for this? Obviously, women. Nicole Kidman wins for wearing a prosthetic nose as Virginia Woolf. Charlize Theron wins for “Monster.” From Marisa Tomei to Penelope Cruz. Do you think that Meryl Streep winning her third Oscar after years of being a bridesmaid but not a bride and the potential to see her on the stage after three decades of seeing her never win at the Oscars was *not* considered by a bunch of members in the Academy, a great many of whom I’ll venture to guess are either friends or at least acquaintances with her?

    Now, these women deserved their awards. The wins for Theron and Cruz in my view were especially on target. Foxx winning for “Ray” was no injustice. Heck, George Clooney winning for “Syriana” was all right, but let’s not pretend there were no political reasons for his winning (in the year that he had directed a film nominated for Best Picture).

    Sasha is right. There are films about ideas. And the Academy transmits ideas. Some are grand ideas. Some are trivial. Some are quite shallow. A great deal of the time, as I just went over, they overlap.

    My point that a bunch of AMPAS members would probably love to see Clooney and Affleck up on the stage at the end of the night on February 24th is that they are avatars for their film, “Argo.” A film that posits that Hollywood is, ultimately, a good place. A place that not only shapes the world’s popular culture through its films but can actively do good in the world. And Affleck and Clooney and Arkin, who due to his role in the film is something of a facsimile for the producers in the audience, and Goodman, who opened up about his own personal demons and travails… All of these guys standing up there at the end of the night would be a picture not a few Academy members would certainly love to see. Just like many were doubtless overjoyed to see the French artists behind “The Artist,” the “little French film that could” take center stage a year ago, just as New Zealand was honored via “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and India and “Bollywood” were given their due (from the AMPAS perspective, this is) with “Slumdog Millionaire.” It all ties into the “Oscar narrative” of which Sasha writes. Every category has its own narrative, however small, however inconspicuous. Often, we don’t truly know what that is until after the fact, but absence of proof is not the same thing as proof of absence.

  • Lana

    @fabinho, we get it your daily worship of ben and argo is extremely nauseating! We get it, but im glad he wont walk away with bd at oscars……….Fact

  • Sergio

    Sasha, unfortunately you still refuse to admit that Argo is a perferct piece of the best american industry is capable to produce. Independently of any other tortuous considerations it really desearves all the awards being captured. Pleas, stop that foolish argument of “poor” Affleck. As a matter of fact it’s a case of Affleck’s validation by the industry. And a well deserved one.

  • steve50

    “And Affleck is not Beatty….” & “It took guys like Beatty years to develop passion projects…”

    (Not picking on you, specifically, Yvette, but you, as usual, best summarize some of the buzz in this thread – and thanks for that)

    True, but I don’t think Affleck’s trajectory is as far off from Beatty’s as some of you suggest.

    Beatty’s first passion project, which he chose not to direct, was Bonnie and Clyde – he was 30 years old. Affleck’s was Gone Baby Gone and he was 35. There is no comparing the two films, but the point is the two struck out to reforge their pretty boy images about the same time in their careers. Affleck was 38 when he did The Town and 40 when Argo was released; Beatty was 41 when he did Heaven Can Wait (10 noms) and 44 with Reds.

    Beatty is obviously more successful with Oscar nominations, but I think the paths are very similar both behind the camera and even outside the office with regards to their political and humanitarian interests. The comparison is somewhat justified.

    “at 61, I’m not sure that she has more than 5 films left in her”

    Rufus, I’m going to pretend you never said that and won’t bother to list the work done by Altman, Scorsese, Fellini, etc after they passed the age of 60. We’ll just put that down to it being very late when you wrote that.

    I do agree that Bigelow and Bond is not a match by any stretch.


    Bette – please write more! Your words are pure oxygen in a very smoky room.

  • Mike Kelly

    Sasha wrote:”Without the DGA to guide them the directors branch at the Academy did what they wanted to do: they picked the five films they thought were the best of the year:…”

    First, I don’t see why the 300+ film directors in the Directors branch of AMPAS, would need the DGA with their many Television, Video and Commercial directors to help them decide who to vote for. There will naturally be similar selections, but when you look at both groups choices, you have eight of the nine best picture nominees. If one of those groups happened to select Quentin Tarantino over either Ang Lee or Steven Spielberg, then all BPs would have been covered. It would be a mistake, I think, to assume that the films of the five nominated directors were the top five films out of the field of nine.

    Second, The Directors Branch vote on best directorial achievement as well as best picture. While they may frequently match perfectly it isn’t a given. Expanding the best picture slate to more than five statistically makes the match between Best Picture and a corresponding Best Director nominations more tenuous

  • The J Viewer

    That year, in my opinion, Master Kurosawa [R.I.P.] had been justifiably nominated – no doubt in mind. In fact, his film should have been nominated if not for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film then at least for Best Foreign Film as well had it not been obstructed by ordeals, including that of identification of legit country representation, etc.

  • Glenn UK

    I’m sure Ben is licking his wounds and feeling sorry for himself …. all the way to the bank.

    Don’t worry about Ben’s lack of Director nomination. His next film will be a pile of shite but for some unknown reason AMPAS will AWARD him the Best Director Oscar ….. that’s usually how it goes when they wrong someone!

    The poor Ben story is wearing thin with me now. It’s an ASSUMPTION that he is being treated sympathetically. His film was winning BIG before the Director snub. It’s an ASSUMPTION Lincoln is sat in second place. It’s all ASSumption!

    The strong woman angle is poor too. If there were no strong females involved then should Ben have created something ficticious? Not every scenario deals with strong women. It was the times …. the 70’s. Shame on Ben for developing a film with no strong female leads when there probably were none. Rolling my eyes now!

  • SallyinChicago

    Explain this to me: Is the Director ONLY responsible for directing actors; or does the director direct scenery? or does he have say about costumes, and other things?

  • Corvo

    Jennifer Lawrence’s character in SLP is a male sexual fantasy but Jessica Chastain’s character in ZDT is a feminist fantasy. Neither of them is believable. The “you can fuck me” by Tiffany is the same as “I’m not that girl who fucks” by Maya. The difference is that Tiffany is a joke, Maya is supposed to be serious, terribly serious. I prefer the first. Better pure entertainment than bad arguments.

  • Name *

    Does Bette work for Sight & Sound?

    Hey don’t get me wrong. I love that mag.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    thats me ^_^

  • Bryce Forestieri

    SERIOUS QUESTION: For those who are bored at work :/

    Who is the highly revered director that you detest, least connect to, or don’t get the love?

    mine is Jean-Luc Godard

  • Nic V

    The comment about BAFTA not nominating Steven Speilberg is rather amusing when you consider that they gave Lincoln nine nominations and then pretended no one directed it. If you think Affleck was snubbed by the Oscars Speilberg was butt f***ed by the BAFTA’s.

    The director is involved in all aspects of the film’s production, from makeup to lighting and camera shots. It’s the nature of the job.

  • Sammy

    Academy do not want to involve with politics anymore. That is one of the reasons why they chose Amour and BOTSW instead of Argo and ZDT.

    Argo cannot win without a director nomination. So BP will go to one of five director movies. Forget the “Miss Daisy” thing, it’s odd and history.

  • Sasha Stone

    Jennifer Lawrence’s character in SLP is a male sexual fantasy but Jessica Chastain’s character in ZDT is a feminist fantasy. Neither of them is believable. The “you can fuck me” by Tiffany is the same as “I’m not that girl who fucks” by Maya. The difference is that Tiffany is a joke, Maya is supposed to be serious, terribly serious. I prefer the first. Better pure entertainment than bad arguments.

    Right, Corvo, because all that matters to women is whether they have a dick stuck inside them or not. Get real. Maya was DOING A JOB. You know, believe it or not there are women who actually do work for a living, who don’t chase that elusive cock at every turn. Shocker, I know.

  • Sasha Stone

    Sergo, I don’t “refuse to admit” anything. Putting my own support behind Lincoln means 1) I think it is the best film of the year, and #2) I always said I would wait for the DGA to decide — though I said that before Affleck was snubbed. I believe in the directors branch. I’m not one of those people who likes a movie to win without its director. And I’m the last thing you’ll ever meet from a star fucker, which everyone else is – not just here in the US but everywhere. The star power in this scenario is what’s driving these wins. I love Argo, don’t get me wrong. But like The King’s Speech, and arguably the Artist, it ain’t nowhere near the best of the year. Amour, Beasts, Lincoln all better by a long shot. The directors did the RIGHT thing. They did not do the typical Hollywood thing.

    p.s. what do you care what I think when you have fifty or so pundits saying Argo will win? The world doesn’t need one more. Besides, think of how fun it will be to come back here and stomp on my corpse when it is all over? You guys love that shit don’t you? I will never admit that Argo is a better film than Lincoln. Sorry.

  • Sasha Stone

    I thought the trick was not minding, Sasha?

    Most readers have no idea what that really means. I should change my tagline to “Awards Daily, it’s a bucket of shit with the handles on the inside.”

  • Sasha Stone

    And in case you are blind, if Argo wins Best Picture, the real story will be the turnaround Ben Affleck has had in his career since the infamous Gigli. Everyone loves a second act, Sasha.

    You’re telling me? I can see the People Mag cover coming from a mile away.

  • Someone

    I’ve checked something today: since SAG awards were established, DGA was rewarded every year to the director of the movie that was the 1st or the 2nd most nominated movie of the year (by the Academy, I mean). There was only one exception. And no, Ron Howard wasn’t this exception. 😛 “Apollo 13” was the 2nd most nominated movie of 1995 (after “Braveheart”). The only exception was Scorsese whose “The Departed” was the 5th most nominated movie of 2006. But we all know that Scorsese won because everybody felt that he SHOULD win, finally! Is there anybody in the world that thinks that Affleck SHOULD win this award? I don’t think so. He’s already won one Oscar (for screenplay) and might win the 2nd one this year (for production). Scorsese didn’t have any Oscars before 2007. And Scorsese is one of the greatest American directors ever – Affleckk is not.
    That’s why I think that Spielbeg or Lee will win DGA this Saturday. And I’m going to predict Lee because DGA might think that Spielberg has already won too much (he’s got three DGA wins – more than anyone else in their entire history).
    Spielberg’s work on LINCOLN is divisive. He hasn’t won anything so far for his work, he lost critics’ awards, BFCA, Globe, he’s not nominated for BAFTA. Lee is the only person this year who has received nominations for BFCA, Globe, DGA, BAFTA and Oscar and who has won few critics’ awards. So maybe this is his year once again? 🙂

  • Sammy

    Academy did the right thing by not nominating Affleck and nominatng Zeitlin and Haneke. All in all it is the “Academy” and it is quite normal for them to quantify according to the artistic achievement rather than some movie industry dynamics which obviously have been seen during the recent awards run of Argo.

  • Jessica Chastain’s character in ZDT is a feminist fantasy.

    Yeah, that true story was such a fantasy.

  • steve50

    “Who is the highly revered director that you detest, least connect to, or don’t get the love?”

    You’re a shit-disturber, Bryce, but I’ll play.

    While I don’t dislike his movies (well, most of them) – John Ford puts me to sleep.

  • Elton

    @Bryce Forestieri

    Steven Spielberg

  • John

    I thought Driving Miss Daisy was absolutely wonderful. Poignant, moving, exceedingly well acted, looked great, etc..

    Argo is a slick, entertaining CIA thriller. I don’t see it as a DMD. But as mentioned, it does have Affleck/Clooney/Hollywood saves the day angle.

  • Leonius Maximus

    Everyone, chill. Guess what? This whole turkey shoot is WAY easier once you put quotes around the “Best” in “Best Picture” of the year. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Sasha has understood this for years and says as much above:

    “I love Argo, don’t get me wrong. But like The King’s Speech, and arguably the Artist, it ain’t nowhere near the best of the year.”

    Seeing a pattern yet?

    Driving Miss Daisy = Do the Right Thing lite
    Argo = Zero Dark Thirty lite
    AMPAS = credibility lite

  • Unlikely hood

    I hope Sammy is right.

    So bored of people attacking Sasha for supporting Lincoln. If she didn’t say which film she favored, then she’d be attacked for pretending not to be biased. Damned if you do, damned if you’re Spielberg.

    Bryce – Peter Greenaway. Hate him. Don’t like Ken Russell either.

    Steve50 – I want to agree with you on Beatty and Ben, but I just feel that as good as gone baby gone and the town were, they’re not Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, and Reds. I realize those middle two were basically satire but they had real bite. Plus there was the outstanding McCabe and mrs. Miller, the Parallax View…does Ben have six comparable films? Anything between good will hunting and GBG? I don’t think so.

    I’m afraid the closer comparison is Costner and his wolves. As revered as goodfellas is now, DWW was at least an epic and a box office sensation and they had wanted to give it to a Western for 60 years (and never had). In it’s Caucasian way, DWW at least tried to make up for decades of misrepresenting Indiana. Argo makes up for Carter and Mendez. Whoop de woo.

  • Vitamin168

    From my recollection, there are three films in which the main protagonist has to act alone for a major portion of the time and delivers both creditably and powerfully. They are Castaway, 1408, and Life of Pi. Perhaps there are others as well, but those are from my un-reliable memory. Two of them, Tom Hanks and John Cusack are both unbelievably talented veteran actors. Suraj Sharma instead is a debutant. No matter how gifted he is, it really takes a great people director like Ang Lee to guide him through the difficulty of performing act. To prevent unnecessary distraction from the film, Ang Lee even replaced Toby with Rafe Spallby re-shooting all the scenes. Those actions speak to me, Ang Lee has taken great effort on the most difficult project to make Life of Pi filmable, philosophical and yes visually stunning. To me, Ang Lee deserves and should win the DGA and Oscar this year. Also from my un-reliable memory, I think of the BD nominees in both DGA and Oscar BD, only Lee has an NC-17 movie (Lust, Caution). It only shows that inside this humble person, there is a heart of fearless and untamed tiger.

  • steve50

    YES to Vitamin168! Vision, bravery, skill, and a huge range of understanding. Nobody else in the pack comes close.

  • TB

    “You’re telling me? I can see the People Mag cover coming from a mile away.”

    Right Sasha, fuck ’em. This are just people who are drinking the “Afflec” kool aid. They are living in the moment and they can’t get out of it. Let them have their moment. Time will tell and I am almost 100% sure time will be a lot kinder to a film like LINCOLN than to film like ARGO.

    This will be another fuck up in a long list of fuck ups by the academy. Anyway, I just wish people will realize that if Clooney isn’t one of the producers of the film, we wouldn’t have this discussion about Argo being the favorite.

    If you don’t agree, ask yourself a simple question, why wasn’t Afflec nominated for actor? or director? Why wasn’t The Town nominated for best picture? Gone Baby Gone? which in my opinion are better or at least the same quality as Argo. Face it, Afflec is not that well liked (or respected) within the academy. He won when he was an unknow nominated besides a very likeable (and best actor nominated) Matt Damon. This year he is nominated for best picture besides a very, very likeable (and best actor winner) George Clooney. People are just having a “snub” rush on him right now, that’s all. It has nothing to do with the movie whatsoever.

    In other words, he is a very good director, but he is a lucky SOB for having those kinds of pals.

  • @Bryce Forestieri: Francois Truffaut!

    I’m pretty sure the DGA will go to Ben Affleck, and not only because of Argo, but because the man has proven himself as a great and very comptenent director, with a knack for good storytelling and an actor’s director, getting very natural performances from his actors. From Gone Baby Gone through The Town to Argo, at least one actor was always nominated for an Oscar (granted, this year, Arkin’s Oscar Nom makes absolutely no sense compared to some of the actors they snubbed – but I believe the SAG Ensemble award was very deserving) and his films just kept getting better and better.

    Sure, Argo is a safe choice. But, don’t get it twisted, so would Lincoln, Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook be too. If you’d want the Academy to make a daring, bold movie more akin to The No Country for Old Men or Hurt Locker awards, that would be Django Unchained or Zero Dark Thirty walking away the winner….right now, that’s not what it is.

    It’s safe vs. very safe vs. pretty darn safe. The big three/four films vying for that gold are all lightweight with story, execution and themes compared to the raw and unblinking look at old age and death in Amour, a daring and original take on America’s relationship with slavery and the idea (or lack of) African-American hero and an uncompromising look at American’s “biggest” overseas accomplishment in recent memory, as originally seen through the eyes of a woman worth a thousand men.

    Even the romanticized poverty in Beasts of the Southern Wild is like drinking lemonade compared to the bitter and harsh reality presented in the other, more artistically daring and darker, films.

    Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings, Life of Pi….as much as I liked most (i.e. not Silver Linings) of them because they are great films that teach and inspire , they’re all of them big lightweights compared to some of the other nominees, and not to mention compared to so many other films of 2012.

  • The Dude

    @Bryce Forestieri

    Federico Fellini post-La Dulce Vita.

    Also Carl Theodor Dreyer.

  • steve50

    When you compare entire careers, unlikely hood, yes, I completely agree.

    I was just comparing directing/producing efforts and the ages at which they accomplished them (certainly not the results – that a whole other plane). I think the phase that stuck was “it took years” for Beatty, suggesting that Affleck is too sudden, when that is not the case.

  • Vitamin168

    Nik G,

    Yes, movies which deals with old age and death or takes on slavery are weighty, but movies dealing with Faith and Doubt or the 13th Amendment are not in anyway lightweigt. I cannot say about Argo or SLP, but Lincoln and Life of Pi both carry a weighty and powerful subject and message, not lighter than the age, death or slavery. Of course, you are entitled to your own opinion.

  • Corvo

    Sorry Sasha for giving you the impression that I’m a sexist jerk. I am not! I have just a different opinion about ZDT and particularly about Chastain’s character. Maya is programmatically smarter, stronger, deeper than everyone she deals with. We are supposed to root for her, to like her, and to love her because she’s beautiful too. I think she’s not really “doing a job for living”, she is written as an american heroine we should celebrate.

  • Vitamin168,

    I wasn’t only referring to the subject matter of the movies and we completely agree that both Lincoln and Life of Pi have powerful and weight messages behind them. But the stories they tell, and how the stories are told, isn’t very daring. Life of Pi (which is btw, in my top ten of the year) stretches the technology of modern cinema to bring you a story about hope, storytelling, belief, survival.

    Lincoln’s subject matter, as controversial as it was back in Lincoln’s time, is perhaps THE safest subject of all the nominees of the year, taking the most popular president, his most popular amendment, and bringing it to the screen with one of the most revered actors in the title role. In this day and age of liberalism, tolerance and freedom of speech, Lincoln is extremely safe filmmaking.

    Considering the brilliant screenplay, the acting and the Spielberg brand, I’m not as surprised as Sasha is that it’s making so much money at the box office for being such a talky film about ideas.

  • Vu Dinh

    With all due respect, the comments are getting so annoying when people keep comparing Affleck to someone else like Gibson or whatever… And then, people think Affleck thinks himself as those people too… That’s just ridiculous. Please stop it.
    I like Argo a lot. I think it’s moving movie but at the same time so exciting and entertaining. There are not that many movies out there could do that. Out of 9 nominations in Best Pictures, only Argo can do the “dual job” so well… The next would be SLP. To be honest, the Academy becomes a little too old-fashioned by keep rewarding those dark and boring movies. Let’s face it, it’s not a movie if no one is watching it… The movie is for the audience… And audience loves Argo. Does it deserve an award for that? Sure!!! It does what it’s supposed to do…
    About Lincoln, I think it’s a great movie and I kind of expect that from Spielberg. But I don’t see the masterpiece factor that people keep refer to. What is so special about it? President Lincoln? It’s a movie about history like a ton of other movies out there. The movie is great because of Spielberg, Daniel, Sally, Tommy, the screenplay and Lincoln INDIVIDUALLY… In combination, it’s just simply a great movie nothing anything special to make people go crazy about.

  • Lana

    I am glad sasha is sticking to her picks! I like ben and all, but damn, im sick of this argo lovefest they are giving him! Everyone is definitely entitled to their opinion, but I will be glad when this award season is over with.

  • Jason B

    “even Amour is that the female characters are vital and important.”

    “EVEN”???!!!! Amour had a better portrayal of women than any of those films listed – with the exception of Lincoln since I’ve yet to see it. Amour was a stronger portrayal of women than Zero Dark Thirty or Beasts of the Southern Wild because it WASN’T a portrayal of women. It was a portrayal of people.

  • rufussondheim

    For Steve – Yeah, I thought long and hard about the five more films for Bigelow who is now 61. I obviously estimated, but I stand by that estimation. She may have more films than five, but I think for the type of stuff she seems interested in doing and the amount of time it takes her between films (3 years for ZDT) that would take her up to 76. Now I know 76 isn’t old for some directors but look at the stuff Bigelow does, travelling all over the world in harsh climates in crappy conditions. Gosford Park is a great film, but I don’t see Bigelow opting to direct something like that, at least not at this stage of the game.


    Bryce – I despise Spielberg. Even the films I loved as a youth, when I revisit them I find them to be terrible. Jaws! Ack. Everything is so telegraphed in that film, you know what’s coming the minute the scene starts.

    Now I realize that this is because I’ve seen almost every Spielberg film before 2000 (never watched Sugarland Express or 1941 or whatever crappy films he did at that time) and that I can see his methods. But in my opinion he just uses the same technique over and over and over again.

    Spielberg has a great bag of tricks. And he’s been using them since 1976. But he uses them too often and I feel like I am being bludgeoned. He hasn’t evolved or changed at all and when I saw Indy 4, he was laughably bad.

    Lincoln is a change for him (and so was Munich, I hear) so maybe he’s realized the same old crap is, well, crap, and maybe he’ll do more and more character-based films that are well-written. Somehow I doubt that because I don’t see eye to eye with him. He’s probably the least literary major director working today, which is tough competition when you throw Nolan in the mix.

  • mecid

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Coming from someone who loved Les Mis.

  • You loved Les Miz rufus?!?! Say it isn’t so!!

  • rufussondheim

    I loved certain parts of it and the rest, well, it wasn’t something as awful as, say, Saving Private Ryan.

    I’ve been a mild fan of the stage musical since the 80’s. It’s overdone garbage, but there are certain aspects of it that really stand out. It’s an uneven mess, but the stuff that works, works for me really well.

    The three best songs in the stage version are Do You Hear the People Sing, Confrontation and One Day More. For the film, Hooper did a nice version of Confrontation that really worked for me. With One Day More, well, he wasn’t that great, but it still was a nice moment.

    But where he really hit the homerun was with Do You Hear the People Sing. He moved the first appearance of the song to later in the storyline and then converted the entire song into it being group-sung rather than a series of solos. Taking that song to the streets and seeing it sung by the masses was a very effective moment for me.

    But then he hit the grand slam with the reprise of that song, allowing all of the dead characters to sing it. After the reworked ending, making it more about Fantine and less about Eponine, and watching the spectre of Valjean moving on, and then cutting to Do You Hear the People Sing, well, it was extraordinarily emotional for me. Probably the high point in any movie this year. (It didn’t hurt that the ending was highly reminiscent of Longtime Companion, which is my favorite of all time). Those final moments were simply transcendant for me far mroe effective than anything the stage version could do.

    It would surprise me if that was the only time I will ever feel that way, and maybe because my expectations for the ending was so low as I normally hate the ending to Les Miz, but yeah, I have to give the movie some credit. It deserves it.

    Was the whole thing good? No, I was disappointed and bored at several points and some things were laughably bad, but that ending. God fuck, that ending is just amazing and it lifted the entire experience for me.

  • eclipse22

    its kinda expected(glad i’m not a newbie to this site anymore) to see the angle of articles on ARGO and ben affleck on this site and its not even my first choice mine is les miserables !

    this year its very easy for me to not mind because the films are different not better than each other coz from what i’ve seen they have different appeal so i don’t feel i have to like one film more and be condescending on the others
    les miserables is my heart choice, if lincoln wins it would be a cerebral choice and argo would be the choice of the senses combine …

    too much reading of a narrative in articles that keep telling you only negative things about a film which you’ve only thought positive things about and which left you enthusiastic is disheartening! i guess i still have a tender skin somewhat lol

    i’ll be back for the oscars or not…if not until next year!

  • moviewatcher

    Oh!!! NOW I get it. You’ve been crapping all over Driving Miss Daisy, not because it’s a bad film. Not because it had a bad script, bad performances or a bad plot. It was because it had won in the year of Do The Right Thing. Oh, well, that’s definitely a well balanced and thought out approach to viewing film.

    Driving Miss Daisy, when not seen in context to other films of the same year or oscars and just as a unique piece of art, is a GREAT film. I’m not saying it was the best picture of 1989, but what do I care about that? It’s a great film with two amazing performances that managed to touch me emotionally and make me laugh for 2 hours. It’s about a friendship between this man and this woman that never goes where a normal “romance” movie would be expected to go. They never say the word love. They never kiss. But we know that they love each other. Maybe not in the way a husband and wife do. But they do. It is so clear in freeman and tandy’s performance. Miss Daisy is a five star film, IMHO. And definitely not one of the worst BP winners ever. You have to look no further than Rocky for that.

  • TB

    What’s wrong with Rocky?

    I bet if there was never a Rocky sequel it would be remembered very differently. The sequels may lack quality, but I will defend the first Rocky till I die. Watch it again. I bet you haven’t seen it in a long while. Remember that at the time, SS was an unknown. Yes, it’s important to remember that.

  • JP

    Crash…The Greatest Show On Earth

    Come on… Driving Miss Daisy is not even this close to this horrendous duo. They make Out of Africa and Braveheart look like masterpieces and Driving Miss Daisy criterion level.

  • Astarisborn
  • Sammy

    Ben Affleck can be a better director in future but now he is not at the level of say Haneke, Lee or Spielberg. So Academy decided to award him for his future work.

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