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Spielberg the Clear Favorite to Win best Director, American People Say


I guess Americans are about to get a big shock to see that Spielberg isn’t the favorite to win the DGA on Saturday.  Everyone and their brother over at Gold Derby and elsewhere have Ben Affleck to win the DGA, continuing the Argo sweep to Driving Miss Daisy its way towards a Best Picture win. Nonetheless, we can pretend for a little while longer that Spielberg will still be rewarded for what is his crowning achievement on his most esteemed career.  From the opening shot of the back of Lincoln’s head, through to the hazy dreamscape of Lincoln’s foreshadowing his own death, to lovely, delicate shot of his slippers in a sliver of light through an opened door, to the deep focus scene of Lincoln and Mary, on through that great shot of Lincoln walking through the corridor of the White House, forgive me, but it’s a masterpiece – a visionary, cinematic treasure. Do people “like” it? Who knows. Who cares. Some things are more important that, right? After all, lots of people like Big Macs. Doesn’t make them the best hamburgers, just makes them popular. Reuters poll:

American filmmaker Steven Spielberg is clear favorite among the public to win the best director award for his film about President Abraham Lincoln at the Academy Awards this year, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

While the race to win best film at the February 24 ceremony was shaken up by “Argo” stealing the thunder of “Lincoln” at two award ceremonies last weekend, the best director statuette was deemed destined for one man.

Spielberg, 66, who has been nominated seven times for best director at the Oscars and won twice – for the World War Two dramas “Schindler’s List” in 1993 and “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998 – was seen as far ahead in the all-male field of five.

A Reuters Ipsos poll of 1,641 Americans found 41 percent thought Spielberg should win and 38 percent said he was most likely to win for his U.S. Civil War-era drama in which British actor Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln.

Almost half of the respondents to the survey conducted Friday through Tuesday were unsure who should or was most likely to be voted best director. The accuracy of the poll uses a statistical measure called a “credibility interval” and is precise to within 2.8 percentage points.

The online poll comes before the Directors Guild of America awards on Saturday in Los Angeles. Since 1948, there have been only six occasions where the winner of the DGA Award for Feature Film has not gone on to win the Oscar for best director.

But this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose members choose Oscar winners, overlooked the directors of four of the year’s biggest movies – Ben Affleck (“Argo”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”) and Tom Hopper (“Les Miserables”) – opening the possibility of a rare split in February in the best film and best director categories.

Ang Lee was ranked second, David O. Russell ranked third.

At the end of the day, you don’t work in the Oscar biz for 14 years and not know how this will play out. My good friend Tom O’Neil astutely catches that Argo isn’t like Apollo 13 for one very clear reason:

“Braveheart” pulled off a sneaky win because Oscar-watchers weren’t paying attention to what was showing up in academy members’ mailboxes. “Braveheart” was the first major Oscar contender ever to send out screeners to voters.

Nowadays, of course, all contenders send screeners. Academy members received more than 50 this year. So it’s an equal playing field that way.

Memo to Sasha: Yes, “Lincoln” can still win. I’m not discounting that. But it doesn’t have the same secret ambush advantage that “Braveheart” had.

Yeah, got that.  Braveheart not only won the Globe but it won the Eddie (which Argo will win) and it won the WGA (which, it shatters me to say, Argo will probably also win).  It isn’t so much Apollo 13 as it is Crash – it’s an actors movie that is really popular going up against a movie that was, as people always like to say before I secretly want to blow a raspberry, “respected but not loved.” Dude, I got that already.