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Before the DGA Gurus of Gold – A House Divided Against Itself

gurusjan31

In a year when the Directors Branch did what critics long complain that they don’t do — they thought for themselves — an irresistible narrative emerged.  When Argo faced off Silver Linings all the way back in Toronto, Silver Linings won the broad consensus vote. However, the press built the “snubbed Ben Affleck” meme and it has really swallowed up the race.  Neither Lincoln nor Silver Linings, nor Life of Pi could ever catch the “little movie that could” train, and especially not now.   These are all very good films and deserving of more than a popularity contest.   The press needs the narrative hook.  Maybe the people do too.  The awards race IS the movie and the reality show all in one.  Is it any wonder Stephen Soderbergh wants to quit the movie business?

At any rate, the Gurus of Gold are divided about which film they think will win this year.  Those sticking to Lincoln have mostly stuck throughout the season, or will until the DGA attempts to “correct” what they think the Academy got wrong.   But the “anything but Lincoln” pundits have been all over the map. The usually steady Dave Karger was Silver Linings then Les Mis then Lincoln and now Argo.  Steve Pond was Silver Linings then Zero Dark Thirty then Lincoln then Argo. Kris Tapley was Argo then Les Mis then Lincoln and now back to Argo.  Scott Feinberg was Silver Linings then Lincoln then Argo. I think I started out Argo but have only switched once, to Lincoln.  Anne Thompson had Life of Pi at one point before switching to Lincoln and  will probably do so until the DGA anoints Affleck.  The awards community doesn’t need one more blogger switching to Argo at this point. For me, I’m sticking with Lincoln because Argo still has to overcome some enormous hurdles to win, or as Nate Silver would say, his paths to victory are fewer.

First, back when Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg lost an Oscar nom but won the DGA, their movies didn’t win Best Picture. Braveheart beat Apollo 13 and Out of Africa beat The Color Purple.  So Ben Affleck will have to be the first director in all of DGA/Academy history to defy those stats.

The second hurdle is that Affleck would become only the second director since the advent of the DGA to win Best Picture without an Oscar nomination. Now, the press and the guilds might feel it’s a “snub” but to the Academy’s mind they liked other movies better, period.  Who’s to say they will fall in line with Argo’s Oscar story? Sure, the film on its own is incredibly likable – but remember, it did not win the Toronto audience award up against Silver Linings Playbook. It also didn’t win any of the early critics awards until Zero Dark Thirty’s controversy took that movie out and the Academy picked five directors that didn’t include either Affleck or Bigelow. The critics then abandoned Zero Dark Thirty (in a cowardly fashion I might add) and embraced Argo as their “anything but Lincoln” choice.  The stark contrast between the awards Affleck won after the Zero Dark controversy + the Oscar nominations should be obvious to anyone paying attention.  It’s the movie, sure, but it’s also the narrative generated by a press with too much content and not enough juice.

The third hurdle is that Argo must win with only the fourth highest nominations tally.  That feat hasn’t been achieved since Chariots of Fire beat Reds 31 years ago.   Can it happen again? Sure. But to mimic the Reds/Chariots thing Spielberg would have to win the DGA and then Argo win — and even Chariots of Fire had a Best Director nomination.

Lincoln – 12
Life of Pi – 11
Silver Linings Playbook – 8
Les Miserables  – 8
Argo – 7
Amour – 5
Django Unchained – 5
Zero Dark Thirty – 5
Beasts of the Southern Wild – 4

You can’t compare Reds or even Driving Miss Daisy, Apollo 13 or The Color Purple because the Best Picture winners those years weren’t chosen with a preferential ballot. In the days when the preferential ballot was in play only once did the film with 12 nods get beaten by a film with fewer nods and that was when Casablanca beat Song of Bernadette.  Casablanca, of course, had a corresponding director’s nomination. During the preferential ballot years, whenever there was a split vote, the film that won Best Picture was the film with the most nominations.  And they all had director nominations.  The years when Wings and Grand Hotel won Best Picture without a director nomination, there were only three slots for Best Director. It’s possible that those directors would have been represented with five slots.

*–director nomination

*Song of Bernadette – 12
For Whom the Bell Tolls – 9
*Casablanca – 8
Madame Curie – 7
*The More the Merrier – 6
*The Human Comedy – 5
The Ox-Bow Incident
*Heaven Can Wait – 3
Watch on the Rhine – 1

Now, homies, you keep predicting Argo. I agree that it is an extremely likable film.  Ben Affleck is an extremely likable guy. The movie is funny, easy breezy, causes zero discomfort.  You have your narrative all plugged in that the press can’t go let of — all they want to talk about is Ben Affleck losing that director nomination and the awards community giving him a make-good.  I grock all of that and I’m not trying to talk you out of your predictions.  Probably anyone with a brain would pick Argo right now if they had to bet hard, cold cash.  But me? I am having a hard time with the stats and the history. My inner Nate Silver tells me that the film that will win will have a corresponding director nomination and not be fourth in line for nods — so that leaves Lincoln, Life of Pi or Silver Linings Playbook.  I know, it is counter-intuitive.

Out of Africa even won without a DGA or WGA or Eddie win.  So even if Argo wins all of those, it could still lose Best Picture. But again, as many people love to tell me — this year is out of whack with the date change (maybe it is and maybe it isn’t – we’ll never really know for sure) and that history was made to be broken.  My thinking is this: if the Academy feels as enamored with Argo and Affleck as everyone else has so far then it probably can’t lose.   I can’t speak for Academy members. I don’t know Academy members. Alls I know is that many of them lived through Steven Spielberg and the Color Purple and Ron Howard and Apollo 13 — they never felt obliged to reward anyone out of pity or likability. Just saying.

Now on to Best director:

director

 

The Hitfix crew, Kris Tapley and Greg Ellwood believe as I do, that it is unlikely Spielberg will win Director and Argo win Best Picture — so they have Ang Lee picking up the slack in their narrative of Argo winning.  That would mean they would really really REALLY have to hate Lincoln, as Fanboy Nation hates Lincoln, for that scenario to play out and it would redefine who the Academy is.  $168 million at the box office tells us that Lincoln is far from hated outside the bubble of Hollywood.

For that to play out, it would be another “first” unless Spielberg wins the DGA. So how many firsts are we going to have to break?  Can it happen? I suppose.  It could snow tomorrow in Los Angeles too and even though I said it wasn’t likely to happen it could still happen.  But my feeling is that if it’s going to split it at all it will split in Lincoln’s, not Argo’s, favor. But hey, I’ve been wrong before so don’t listen to me. Also, I think if Ang Lee is going to win Best Director, Life of Pi will win Best Picture.  Out of Africa and Braveheart both won BP and took director with them.

Historically speaking, it’s much more likely that the film with the most noms wins BP and a director with a smaller number of noms wins BD. Usually the more critically acclaimed film wins BD in a split (like Steven Soderbergh, like Roman Polanski, like Ang Lee, like Spielberg, like Beatty, like John Ford, etc) but most of the time, picture and director don’t split.

I have to admit it would be funny to see it split and to see Spielberg and Ang Lee have the trophies in the end — both of them famously won director and then lost Best Picture — with Saving Private Ryan and Brokeback Mountain. They are two of the best directors the film industry has ever known.  12 noms for Lincoln and 11 noms for Life of Pi, including director, makes it very likely that they two could split the house.

On Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, the Gurus of Gold and Gold Derby both have Daniel Day-Lewis breaking with Academy history and winning his third Oscar.  They also have Anne Hathaway winning Best Supporting Actress, unanimously.  So we’ll move on to Best Actress:

actress2

 

Now that Emmanuelle Riva has entered the race, the world is turned upside down in the Best Actress race. It is no longer two actresses in two popular films going head to head — it is a three-way race.

I feel like it’s totally wide open.  Jennifer Lawrence won the SAG and the Globe. Chastain won the Globe. Who will win the BAFTA? If Emmanuelle Riva wins there, well, forget it.  Meryl Streep won the Globe and the BAFTA and the Oscar.  Viola Davis won the SAG. The BAFTA won’t impact the Best Picture race, I don’t think (maybe it will if Ang Lee represents over there but if Argo wins we are still at the same stalemate as we are now) but it will or could effect Best Actress.

With four acting nods, it’s not likely Silver Linings will go home empty handed. I figure, it has to win one of those. If it isn’t going to upset and win Best Pic and Best Director (which it very well could), Lawrence might be the consolation prize.  If they want to reward the more seasoned actress they might pick Chastain, who has her roots in theater and has proved versatility.  But my money is on Riva, whose birthday will be the same day as the Oscars and who is exactly as old as the Oscars themselves.  Moreover, Amour is so beloved that it earned Pic, Director, Screenplay and Actress. Of course, Lawrence has all of that and more.

supporting

Best Supporting Actor is likewise all over the map. The reason for this is that all of these contenders have won before.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman won lead for Capote. Robert De Niro won lead for Raging Bull and supporting for the Godfather II. Alan Arkin won supporting for Little Miss Sunshine. Tommy Lee Jones won for The Fugitive and Christoph Waltz won for Inglourious Basterds.  There is no urgency to award any of them.  Tommy Lee Jones won the SAG, which was an unexpected win for Lincoln.  History tells us that it’s evenly split between whomever wins the Globe and the actor that wins the Oscar in this category — therefore I would imagine it might come down to Jones vs. Waltz. On the other hand, Hoffman and Waltz have the benefit of appearing in two leading roles disguised as supporting roles, which might mean they too are the two strongest contenders to beat.

screenplay

Screenplay is trickier. Neither category seems particularly predictable. In Original Screenplay you have Michael Haneke up against Quentin Tarantino (who won already for Pulp Fiction) and Mark Boal (who won already with The Hurt Locker).  Haneke has the Picture and Director going for him so I would think it will fall in his favor. But only one of these three is nominated for a WGA — Mark Boal — so he could get some momentum from a DGA win.

Adapted Screenplay is where the heat of this race resides.  The strongest Best Picture contenders are facing off in this category and they represent three very different styles and genres of film.  Argo and Silver Linings are both driven by one-liners and wit throughout. Both make me chuckle every time I watch them. Argo has “you can teach a Rhesus monkey how to be a director in a day” and Silver Linings has “There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself.”

They both involve stories with characters you care about — neither makes you feel dumb or unable to get the references or understand the text.  They are both strong contenders to win both the WGA and the Oscar.  Argo will probably win the WGA the way things are going.  Unfortunately for all of us, the best screenplay in the bunch could get overlooked because its treasures are buried so deeply beneath layers of complexity.  I feel the need to point out  Tony Kushner’s extraordinary writing because I can tell by the film’s critics, those who call it boring or “just people talking” are missing the boat.

Lincoln’s script is about the 13th amendment and 1865. But it is also about the notion of equality — the very thing that Lincoln’s legacy has done to influence our president today.  Lincoln was the first president to mention the right to vote the country’s newly prescribed black citizens. At the end of Lincoln he qualifies this because Kushner knows what many of the hysterical blowhards have been shouting about — that Lincoln’s views were far from perfect; you don’t become the most popular president in 1860s by touting the equality of blacks. He wasn’t yet an abolitionist but he was likely moving in that direction. We’ll never know because he was shot in the head a few months into his second term.  Similarly, Obama is now the first president ever to use the word “gay” in a major public address. In Lincoln, Kushner’s screenplay points this out in vivid, magnificent fashion.  But first, the passage about black men and the vote:

                                                        LINCOLN
I did say some colored men, the intelligent, the educated, and veterans, I qualified it.

JAMES ASHLEY
Mr. Stevens is furious, he wants to know why you qualified it –

SCHUYLER COLFAX
No one heard the intelligent or the educated part. All they heard was the first time any president has ever made mention of Negro voting.

LINCOLN
Still, I wish I’d mentioned it in a better speech.

JAMES ASHLEY
Mr. Stevens also wants to know why you didn’t make a better speech.

But for me, the greatest strength of the Lincoln screenplay is that it is also full of wit and relishes the beauty of the English language — which makes it not just a great adaptation of Doris Kearns’ Goodwin’s book, but a standalone work. Few screenplays I’ve ever seen come across the awards race stand on their own as great works but Lincoln’s is one of those. This may be the best passage in it — no doubt, those who called the movie “boring” weren’t listening to this part. To them it’s just Lincoln mumbling again. But look at this passage (which Ryan referenced in his beautiful piece about the film) and think about how it applies today to repression and oppression to inequality:

                                                          LINCOLN
Euclid’s first common notion is this: “Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.”  Homer doesn’t get it; neither does Sam. That’s a rule of mathematical reasoning. It’s true because it works; has done and always will do. In his book, Euclid says this is “self-evident.” D’you see? There it is, even in that two-thousand year old book of mechanical law: it is a self evident truth that things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. We begin with equality. That’s the origin, isn’t it? That balance, that’s fairness, that’s justice.

Finally, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Life of Pi are both brilliant adaptations. Pi because it is an adaptation of an “unfilmable book” and Beasts because it is full of elevated language and poetry.  There probably isn’t one screenplay in this category this year that isn’t good. They all are.

Gurus of Gold is here.  Gold Derby is here.

 

108 Comments on this Post

  1. The Oscars are The Hunger Games. Complete with Jennifer Lawrence in a pretty dress.

  2. marlonbrando020

    “The years when Wings and Grand Hotel won Best Picture without a director nomination, there were only three slots for Best Director”

    Not to be picky…but, technically, there WERE 5 slots in 1929 (1st ceremony) when Wings won. There were 3 slots in Drama Direction (7th Heaven won while Sorrell & Son and The Crowd were nominated) and 2 slots in Comedy Direction (Two Arabian Knights won, Speedy was nominated)

  3. Bryce Forestieri

    If I’m not mistaking during the last few years the first awards of the night has been Best Supporting Actor right?

    When they call Tommy Lee Jones name can anyone then seriously doubt LINCOLN will win big throughout the night ?

  4. Exactly Sasha. Sure the precursors are showing Argo love, but I’m not convinced that the Academy feels the same way. Lincoln not only has nearly twice as many nominations as Argo, but it also has nods from the directors branch, the cinematographers branch and the art directors branch, all of which Argo lacks. The Academy also really liked The King’s Speech, which had the exact same nominations as Lincoln, and won Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, all of which Lincoln is expected to win. The Academy may have had their minds set on Lincoln by the time the nominations were announced (we like to think of them as nominations, but they’re really just the first round of voting for the winners).

    Similarly, Braveheart was the first to send out screeners in 1995. This was before nominations, so when the nominations were announced, and Braveheart bagged the most. Meanwhile, Ron Howard got snubbed for Apollo 13, and thus received a bunch of consolation prizes from the precursors. But at the end of it all, the Academy had already made up its mind: Braveheart.

  5. A stat you should key on Sasha is this…

    No film has won Best Picture without a win in either Directing, Wiriting, or acting in 72 years. That means either “Argo” has to take Adapted Screenplay (or Arkin in a major left field win) — or it has another massive historical hurdle to overcome.

  6. PS. I think Argo takes DGA and BAFTA; Lincoln takes Oscar. Just a shame that in one of the better years in film, one movie is sweeping the guilds…

  7. I don’t see a path for Riva. If she could not get support at Critics Choice, then I doubt she has enough support to jump two other actresses at BAFTA. The anybody but Jennifer Lawrence campaign died when JLaw won SAG. And as I suspected all along, when no one could decide who was the #2, the #1 became the frontrunner by a larger gap.

    I also agree that whoever wins WGA should be the real BP frontrunner. Argo has to be favorite there with it’s precursor cleanup but it is wide open. It will really show if there is merely just respect for some of the nominees or passion.

  8. I think Riva will win Best Actress at BAFTA, which will indeed make the Best Actress Oscar a three-way race.

    “Amour” received some surprising Oscar nominations this month, so its likeability can’t be denied amongst actors, directors and writers.

    It’s one of the very few foreign films to be nominated as Best Picture and Best Foreign Film.

    Lawrence and Chastain will win an Oscar some day. They’re young and have their whole careers ahead of them. I think the Academy will go with Riva as Best Actress.

  9. Such a good point by CJ. Gladiator lost Director, but Russell Crowe won. Rocky, the people’s favorite (like Argo?), didn’t win screenplay or acting over Network, but did win for Director. It seems just wrong that Argo would win Screenplay over Lincoln and Kushner. Arkin ain’t winning again. If Affleck were up for Director, I’d say Argo takes Picture, Director, and Editing, while Lincoln takes Actor, S. Actor, and Screenplay, and let’s call it a day. But that can’t happen. It would be weird for Lincoln to take all the top awards without Picture. But it might be even weirder for Life of Pi to sweep the techs and win for Ang Lee but still lose to Argo, with its only other win being Editing.

    The writers and WGA usually don’t make mistakes, even if it means going against the Best Picture favorite, even a non-BP nominee. So I can’t see them screwing around with Kushner. But that means Argo has some steep competition in either Lincoln or Pi or both, unless Director goes to an off-the-wall candidate like Haneke (can’t see Russell taking it).

  10. a BIG “what if”: WHAT IF bigelow won the DGA? what the heck kind of wrench would THAT be?!??

  11. IMO WGA will go to “Moonrise Kingdom”, no “Zero Dark Thirty”.

  12. Victor Barreto

    Jones winning would certainly be nice for Lincoln, but it could also mean a consolation. And besides, his performance is great and very worthy of the prize, even if Lincoln wasn’t a favorite in the main category.

  13. And is it just me or does the SAG win for Argo make me doubt the sincerity of all the film’s previous wins? Chalk it up to the Affleck snub or love for Affleck and Clooney regardless, but once Argo won SAG, I started doubting that every award show up to now was really awarding Argo based on their love for the film. In a normal year Affleck would have been nominated for Director, and the SAG would have gone to Lincoln or SLP, and nobody would have complained, but Argo would still have a great shot of winning Best Picture. How telling is it that the SAG winners were otherwise predictable, with one film winning two acting awards, but Best Ensemble suddenly became an FU to the Academy?

    When a movie sweeps the precursors because they love its star or they have a vendetta against the Academy, it makes me doubt that the film has the same kind of industry-wide support as a film that sweeps the precursors because the voters truly love that film. It makes me think that the Academy is a different beast, one whose nomination patterns foretell their wins more than what THEY say, be they critics, precursors, or the American public.

    Or, the Academy (minus the directing branch) could just really, really love Argo.

  14. Either every film wins 1-3 awards or it’s a sweep in Lincoln or SLP’s direction. I can’t see how Lincoln wins like 7 awards but no Director/Picture, but I can see how it wins 8 or more with it. If people don’t put Lincoln at the top of both, I don’t see how they then give all the technical/costume type stuff to it in other places. That doesn’t compute.

    It’s like the idea of presidents having coattails. Either Lincoln wins with lots of people on his coattails, or he loses and loses all the big ones. Same for SLP or Life of Pi.

    But I could easily see a scenario where everyone gets a little piece of the pie, and in that scenario, Argo wins.

  15. I’m sorry, what does the fact that Emmanuelle Riva is the same age as the Oscars and has her birthday on the day of the telecast have to do with her performance? That is not a reason to win. Despite some past ridiculous choices, I still like to believe that this year is about the performances not a calendar. And all signs point to either Lawrence (my choice) or Chastain (solid performance but not my favourite of the year). Yes Amour was well loved, but I don’t see them rewarding Riva over these two ladies. Let’s be honest. The consolation prize will be the Best Foreign Film win.

  16. Rumor has it

    Rumor has it: Lincoln’s last words were, “boy this play is full of long winded monologues… “

  17. kneeplay_

    I’m starting to believe that Riva can take it too. The only thing that would stop me from predicting her at this point is that they have to give Silver Linings Playbook something, right? Maybe DeNiro? Unless it ends up being this year’s Up in the Air, which is possible: an early overestimated festival serio-comedy favourite that goes home empty-handed. I’d put Chastain in third place.

    I also just can’t see Spielberg taking Director without Lincoln taking Picture. Against most predictions, my money’s still on Lincoln for Picture and Director.

    Worth nothing though that while Argo didn’t win Toronto, it was in 2nd place.

  18. kneeplay_

    If enough voters see Amour, Riva wins. I don’t think there’s any way you can watch that film and then vote for anybody else.

  19. Thaddeus

    Thaddeus Stevens: (1865) I remember Mary coming home following the play, she was in tears. I said “that bad, huh?”

  20. daveinprogress

    I agree with Ben – I’m not sensing an ‘Amour’ love fest (part intended pun).
    If Riva were Angela Lansbury or a Hollywood legend as it was with Jessica Tandy, i would predict the category to go to the senior, but in a year with two more talked about movies, leading women and cache – Lawrence and Chastain, i see one of them on the podium – at this point probably the former.
    Yes they loved the Austrian/German/French film, but Amour at best will take Screenplay and Foreign Film. That is right now, sure if BAFTA goes to Riva, i might have to re-state – but not sensing it.

  21. @Bryce, what makes you think that just because Tommy Lee Jones wins that means for a big night for Lincoln? Jones is the favorite, and should win. I don’t see how that translates? I can see your point if Jones was a big underdog, and wins….then you could say that Jones is riding the coat tails of Lincoln, but since he is the favorite going in I can’t see where that means anything at all.

  22. Jerry Grant

    To my mind, the picture is this:

    Lincoln can’t lose for Screenplay. And Daniel Day-Lewis can’t lose for Actor. And Spielberg is certainly the most likely for Director.

    How do you win all those awards and now win Picture??

  23. Jerry Grant

    *not

  24. Just a minor bone to pick: I think we in the Oscar community need a moratorium on Nate Silver references (especially from Gold Derby). Unlike Silver, we don’t have actual polling numbers to compare to historically-based algorithms. We don’t even have the algorithms, just historical precedents, many of which come from years where the voting system for the Oscars or the many guilds was vastly different than it is now. (Not to mention that this is an extreeeemely atypical year.) Pretending that we have anywhere near the level of statistical analysis as Nate Silver would be like the mayor of The Bathtub comparing his authority to the President of the United States. In his dreams…

  25. Things to remember:

    -Riva was not nominated for SAG (I’m assuming she was eligible).

    -But Amour could play out like Away from Her, surprisingly nominated for its screenplay; they nominate the film for more above-the-line categories than they had to, but that doesn’t mean they want to award its star over a more electric performance from a younger star.

    -Waltz was not nominated for BFCA (who did nominate the film) or SAG (Harvey didn’t send out screeners in time? But if they wanted to, they could have nominated him anyway). Plus, he won most recently of the nominees, so he’s the one with the least urgency of all.

    -De Niro lost SAG to Jones despite being in the more mass-appeal movie and being the (even) bigger star. De Niro was not nominated for the Globe or BAFTA.

    -Argo has won no more than 2 awards (Pic and Director) at every award show. It didn’t even win Editing at BFCA over ZDT, let alone screenplay over Lincoln. It’s sweeping the Best Picture awards, but it’s never winning more than the top two awards; it’s never winning the most awards either, even if it’s a spread-out year. This is unprecedented.

  26. @Evan…

    (Not to mention that this is an extreeeemely atypical year.)

    This is something everyone picking winners should keep in mind.

  27. Since when has a relatively unknown, very old foreign actress won over a young, pretty, full-of-momentum American actress? I saw Amour. Riva is very good in it, but it’s not exactly a complete performance. You barely get to know the character before she gets sick. It’s Lawrence or Chastain. Probably Lawrence.

  28. Agree with Evan, Nate silver had actually polling numbers. Oscar prediction is not scientific.

    The Academy will vote for whomever they like, you can look for patterns, but it is not a scientific process and your sample, the voters, are a changing group of people over time.

    You are sticking with Lincoln because you like the film too much. I get that, but it ruins your comprehensive analysis. You can see the Argo train coming, but will wave it on, blinded by your personal preference.

    it is your site and you can say whatever you wish, but it damages your credibility in my opinion when you cheerlead instead of analyse.

  29. “Lincoln can’t lose for Screenplay. And Daniel Day-Lewis can’t lose for Actor. And Spielberg is certainly the most likely for Director.

    How do you win all those awards and not win Picture??”

    Well, the Pianist did it. But Chicago had racked up wins elsewhere in the craft categories (and Supporting Actress – again proving the point that it needed a major win under its belt). Argo NEEDS to win Screenplay though, because I don’t see many craft awards – or a Arkin victory. At the moment I am tentaively predicting it Argo to take screenplay for this reason (I mean Argo seems destined to win BP, so I have to make predictions to reflect that), but I am very doubtful this will happen.

  30. @Andrew…very well said!!!!! I think anyone can take the movie that is their favorite, and find stats to back why it should win.

    “Scientists can prove an elephant can hang from a cliff with his tail tied to a daisy. Use your head, use some common sense.”

  31. Jerry — just ask The Pianist.

  32. Sasha–in reference to your comment about SLP in a possible upset taking Best Pic and Best Director….

    If Affleck takes the DGA without the Oscar nom, and David O. Russell takes the Oscar without the DGA nod, I will laugh so hard! This would not be a reflection of the films/directors in my mind–just the bizarre nature of the situation.

  33. But it wasn’t like The Pianist was going in as the favorite for Director OR Screenplay OR Actor. It didn’t win any of the Guild awards. It was a late release. And though Zeta-Jones was the biggest draw in Chicago, I don’t think her win helped the movie win. I think the movie was winning anyway, and she was carried along with it (but really, she was winning anyway too).

    Point being that, apart from Director, Chicago didn’t lose much that it was expected to win. It still won a lot. On the other hand, if Argo only wins Picture and Editing, while Lincoln wins the major awards, that would be weird and unprecedented.

  34. Also, I’m pretty sure Sasha is saying that, gun to her head, the obvious frontrunner is Argo, but the stats don’t favor it, even with the guild wins. Sure, she’s advocating for her favorite, but the fact that a film like Argo is sweeping all the awards in a year like this doesn’t make sense. That Argo would win with so little going for it doesn’t make sense. That Argo has this much industry support yet its figurehead missed out on a preordained nomination makes no sense.

  35. CJ’s point is significant. I don’t think it’s impossible for Argo to win Best Picture and no other major award (director, acting, writing), but I think it’s unlikely. Sure, it’s just a stat, and all precedents are eventually broken. But it certainly feels like Argo has to win either Supporting Actor or Adapted Screenplay in order to win Picture – could it rly take so few as one other award?

    I think Supporting Actor is completely wide open. If they want to reward Argo as much as possible, Alan Arkin could win. It’d be just like his win for Little Miss Sunshine, in some ways. That year, it wasn’t as wide open, although there was a vocal anti-Eddie Murphy movement. Robert De Niro could win if they love Silver Linings Playbook (it’s losing steam atm, but that just scares me, because it can regain some once ballots go out). If this is an early award, as it normally is, it’ll be an exciting start to Oscar night!

    I can feel the Academy love for Lincoln, and I can’t help but feel like it’s getting a little boost from Sasha and Ryan that could matter in the end. The more people talk about it (positively, at least), the better its chances become. Is that why you guys keep writing articles about it? :) Good strategy if so. I’m so torn between predicting Lincoln and Argo. Also, if Argo wins, Director is up in the air, and any of the five could win it, including David O. Russell. I’d predict Michael Haneke, though, if there’ll be a split.

  36. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Also, I’m pretty sure Sasha is saying that, gun to her head, the obvious frontrunner is Argo, but the stats don’t favor it, even with the guild wins. Sure, she’s advocating for her favorite, but the fact that a film like Argo is sweeping all the awards in a year like this doesn’t make sense. That Argo would win with so little going for it doesn’t make sense. That Argo has this much industry support yet its figurehead missed out on a preordained nomination makes no sense.

    I’m trying to analyze the race from a numbers point of view, which do not, by ANY STRETCH, favor Argo. I can feel the buzz for the film right now and for Affleck and so I don’t want to steer anyone wrong — I don’t want them to predict Lincoln based on anything I might say. But I need to be as complete as I can with what I know about Academy history.

  37. Jerry Grant

    Okay woops, so The Pianist. So Lincoln could be this year’s The Pianist… And Argo could be this year’s Chicago. Blegh

    Speaking of which, I’ll never understand how Ronald Harwood beat out Charlie Kaufman and David Hare for that Oscar, or how Adrien Brody beat out DDL and Jack Nicholson.

  38. Just to clarify: my point was not to critique whatever Sasha predicts (I didn’t even finish the article), only to point out all the lol-zy comparisons to Nate Silver which have abounded since the election on Oscar sites.

    And PJ, regarding your Critics’ Choice comment, it’s important to note that the BFCA is a predictor *of* the Oscars, not a predictor *for* the Oscars. That is to say that Riva not winning BFCA just means that their voters didn’t think that she’d win the Oscar, not that they didn’t like her. They were just trying to guess the winners like the rest of us.

    Will Riva win? I dunno. But can she? Absolutely

  39. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Keep in mind that when Driving Miss Daisy won, it had the most nominations and was the biggest box office hit that year.

  40. @CJ, just curious, how are you feeling Academy love for lincoln? I am honestly curious.

  41. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    If Affleck takes the DGA without the Oscar nom, and David O. Russell takes the Oscar without the DGA nod, I will laugh so hard! This would not be a reflection of the films/directors in my mind–just the bizarre nature of the situation.

    That would be more in keeping with Braveheart but Silver Linings has its own hurdles to jump. For one thing, you have to trot out the Driving Miss Daisy stat again because no film from the musical comedy category at the Globes without a director nomination has ever won EXCEPT Driving Miss Daisy. The second hurdle is that the only film that ever won from that category without first winning the Globe was Annie Hall. But of course, he had and won the DGA.

  42. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    @Andrew…very well said!!!!! I think anyone can take the movie that is their favorite, and find stats to back why it should win.

    “Scientists can prove an elephant can hang from a cliff with his tail tied to a daisy. Use your head, use some common sense.”

    That really isn’t the case with Oscar history. This is a very traditional, non-risky group that has done basically the same thing over and over and over again for 8 decades – and that is reward the film with the director and usually the one with the most noms. Argo, Silver Linings winning would be a freak occurrence that has never happened. Doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t – just that it never has. But a woman never won before Bigelow, and a silent French film hadn’t won in how long? The stats don’t favor Argo. If you want to go that way just know you are saying “I’m throwing out history this year because I love Ben Affleck that much, I mean, because the date change screwed everything up.”

  43. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    “Lincoln can’t lose for Screenplay. And Daniel Day-Lewis can’t lose for Actor. And Spielberg is certainly the most likely for Director.

    It could go any which way. If it’s true that they “hate” Lincoln and “hate” Spielberg, Day-Lewis could lose to Phoenix, Argo could win Pic and screenplay, maybe sound and score. Lincoln could, as all the fanboys hope, go home empty-handed. I know several asshole readers who would do a jig. They will not be allowed to do so on this site, however.

  44. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    You are sticking with Lincoln because you like the film too much. I get that, but it ruins your comprehensive analysis. You can see the Argo train coming, but will wave it on, blinded by your personal preference.

    it is your site and you can say whatever you wish, but it damages your credibility in my opinion when you cheerlead instead of analyse.

    I had no credibility to begin with in this regard. I always advocate and have from the beginning of the year. It’s just that now it chafes against your sensibilities so of course you have to be an ass. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this over the last ten years. People love you to advocate, just not for a movie they don’t like. I do what I want to do and I’m not worried about my credibility. I am not a journalist nor a film critic but a blogger. I will quit when I stop making money, that is a promise. And believe me, I can’t fucking wait. Not to have to deal with people like you every year? Pure joy.

  45. Jerry Grant

    But they DON’T hate Lincoln, they gave it 12 nominations! And DDL and Kushner are two of the strongest locks in the whole race–yes, I think Kushner is rather close to lock, because Kushner is Kushner is one of the most important and strongest American writers of our time, and the screenplay is an unbeatable screenplay. It still remains that Lincoln is heavily FAVORED (for good robust reasons) to win those three top prizes.

  46. I have no idea how the Academy reponds to Argo, other than the fact that it got the nominations it did. I try and look for historical trends (doesn’t everyone?). Argo has to be the favorite for BP right now. But, I really think it’s a shaky frontrunner because it really is only expected to win like….one other award right now.

    I am tentatively predicting BP, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Sound. I am only confident in Editing. If it doesn’t win Screenplay, I have a tough time seeing it win, so even though I though Kusher had it….I HAVE to pick Argo for Screnplay for it to make sense in my mind.

  47. I’m sticking with Lincoln because Argo still has to overcome some enormous hurdles to win, or as Nate Silver would say, his paths to victory are fewer.

    Yes indeed. And I actually think the Silver references are dead-on as in both examinations we are exploring the realm of possibility based on historical precedence. Sure history is made to be broken, but that in and of itself is hardly a reason to make a final call. Of all Sasha Stone’s persuasive historical reference points, I think the one that suggests that ARGO must win with only the fourth-highest nomination total is the most telling, as the last time it happened was CHARIOTS OF FIRE back in 1981.

    My own belief at this time is that ARGO has been riding the good-will of Academy members who seem in protest mode after the relatively small-in-number Director’s Branch pulled that now infamous snub. It’s not just that Clooner and Affleck are popular and have clout with the membership, but there is surely a perception of injustice, one that I believe has generated extra support for ARGO that may not have materialized otherwise. Sure’s a very fine movie, and if it wins it won’t be a travesty, but LINCOLN is a better movie, and the only question at this point the way I see it is whether or not the feel-sorry-for-Ben mind-set will sustain itself to the better end. Some believe it will, I remain skeptical.

    I still need to be convinced, and like Sasah Stone, I still give a slim edge to LINCOLN’s prospects.

  48. My last comment was for Jim who asked me directly.

  49. “I know several asshole readers who would do a jig. They will not be allowed to do so on this site, however.”

    Well, with all due respect as this is your site, isn’t that part of the fun of having a (sort of) open forum? When you openly ask your faithful readers to share their predictions and opinions, there are going to be winners and losers. It might not go your way, it might not go the reader’s way (this reader thinks SLP should win but knows it probably won’t go that way) but I don’t think there’s any harm in doing a little jig while being respectful about it. I think Lincoln is a remarkable film and I agree it’s Spielberg’s best. But I’ll be jigging if SLP or Argo win because I truly loved those films. Also, I don’t think that a film being a director’s best means s/he automatically deserves the W. I mean Deep Blue Sea is arguably the best Renny Harlin film but I didn’t see the Academy clamoring to reward his tale of shark freedom. Which clearly was a huge snub. And I’m still bitter. A SHARK ATE SAMUEL L JACKSON! HOW DOES THAT NOT GET OSCAR LOVE? But I digress.

  50. Glenn UK

    The heat is certainly all Argo at the moment. If for some unknown reason Argo is taken out of the equation then it is assumed that Lincoln is sat pretty in second place – because it has the most Oscar noms. That is something I do not feel and am not certain of. It has one more Oscar nom than Pi. And I think AMPAS members would go for Pi before Lincoln. And then we have the Weinstein machine to kick in. The guy has a magic touch and if anyone can turn statistics and results on their head then its Harvey. For me, it feels like the acting and screenplay side of Lincoln is being pushed and is winning but for whatever reason it stops there. Lincoln has had no major Picture/Director wins. And then there is annointing Spielberg into the three club along with DDL – one or both will not happen in my opinion.

  51. daveinprogress

    Precedent helps only to a certain extent. It helps make considered and as ‘scientific’ a predicition as one can in a non-scientific process.

    Do individual voters really sit there as say, well i can’t just give Argo 2 awards inlc best picture, and of course the movie with the most nominees normally wins or at the very least has the most wins. No that is what we do in analysing it year in year out. Borrowing a phrase (from Sasha) ‘They love what they love’. They vote for who they like, would they sit there and consider the bigger picture? We criticse them for not doing so! ‘Don’t you know how that will be perceived 10 years from now?”

    We will never gain a decisive reason for anomalous outcomes from Academy choices. Omitting Bruce Beresford; Chariots of Fire; Crash (i don’t buy a majority of 6000 to be homophobic). So too, why Affleck, Bigelow and Hooper/Tarantino were left off. Likewise, a surprise nomination and win for Marcia Gay Harden and Adrien Brody’s victory are more readily accepted as just being, rather than scrutinised for ‘what happened’

    On a preferential ballot, Argo may win Best Picture, but freakily not win ANY other category, or win 1 other. And this may or may not be as a result of the weeks of reax to the director snub. It may be becuase as with The Kings Speech and The Artist it ticks all the boxes or enough of them; for enough people who feel that overall it is the most enjoyable, well made film of the year. Again whether people choose what is the least problematic, least divisive film is again supposition. Flpping the thought process, maybe they choose the film they ‘liked’ the most, as opposed to disliked the least.

    I see no reason right now to doubt Daniel Day Lewis’s win; nor Hathaway. I am veering more towards Lawrence than Chastain (momentum and SLP will not be overlooked). I still believe Lincoln will take Screenplay and Director.
    Supp Actor probably Tommy Lee Jones, but that one could still go virtually any which way.

    Surprises would not be the Argo win (in my mind anyway), but Life of Pi or SLP taking the major prizes. For whatever reasons, and i don’t fully buy the Affleck snub as to why, Argo and Lincoln have the most attention. Globes were already decided, pre Oscar announcement, and BAFTA nods were emphatic. Lincoln has a healthy 12 nods going in. It will be a spread in the final outcome. Lincoln, Pi, Argo, SLP, Zero Dark Thirty will carve up the prizes.

  52. @CJ…thanks for your response. I can see where the love iOS coming from with 12 nominations.

  53. Henry Z.

    The third hurdle is that Argo must win with only the fourth highest nominations tally. That feat hasn’t been achieved since Chariots of Fire beat Reds 31 years ago.

    The Departed won Best Picture having the fourth most nominations of the night. You can look it up, it’s completely true.

  54. Andrew—

    Your last comment is quite trollish if I might say so. Since when has the extraordinary analysis at this site over the past two months been anything but insightful, creative and fully in tune with all the possibilities based on wise historical observations and exhaustive cases made for every film in the game. If there weren’t cheerleading going on to some degree the place would be too clynical. There is always fairness here and concessions, which you would never get at other places where the blogger prefers a certain film but continues to push a personal agenda. A little Jeff Wells anyone?

    If I were running this site I will also express a preference and go the distance, but would strive to do what is done here, which is painstakingly examine all the possibilities and encourage discussion.

    All you are encouraging is ill will, and complete disregard for the blood, sweat and tears that is expended here.

    You know what? This is DEFINITELY trollish behavior.

  55. Jerry Grant

    I do not understand how Spielberg isn’t the clear favorite for Best Director. Just looking at it from pure numbers. Where’s the rally of support for Ang Lee or Michael Haneke or David O. Russell? Where does that come from? It doesn’t, it splits apart, none of those movies is the big movie. Spielberg is surely the strongest contender of the bunch, “Lincoln” is the most widely-admired of the bunch (12 nominations), and would be the most deserving living director to have won three Oscars for director. That’s looking at things clearly, I really do firmly believe.

  56. It is interesting that Lincoln has more potential to win BD, Actor, Sup Actor and Screenplay than BP. And in the result we get that best directed, acted and written film doesn’t win BP.

  57. Robert A.

    Daniel Day-Lewis will win Best Actor. I don’t see how that one goes any other way. Lincoln is not going home empty-handed. It’s possible that DDL will be Lincoln’s only award, but even only one award seems unlikely.

    I agree with Sasha that if you look at historical precedent, Lincoln should be the winner. But what’s unusual is that the “evidence” we have so far from the guilds (PGA/SAG Ensemble) for this particular year suggests Argo will win. Historical precedent is a useful tool to look at but is not the sole determination of what wins in any given year (and I know Sasha is not suggesting that). Historical precedent, for example, told us that The Hurt Locker just couldn’t win Best Picture because of its low box-office. This year may be its own unique case study, not really fully comparable to other years.

    Plus, I get nervous when we’re comparing this year to what happened in other years when they weren’t using the preferential ballot. I’m not math-y enough to know if I should be worried about this or not. But we’re using a different system to determine BP now than they were using during the years for Driving Miss Daisy, Braveheart, and Out of Africa? How much does that make a difference, or doesn’t it?

    I was amused by the comment from another thread that compared Lincoln and Argo to Hillary Clinton vs. Obama in the 2008 presidential race. Hillary is like Lincoln, the “establishment” candidate with the most money who seems like the pre-ordained winner based on prestige etc. Argo is like Obama, the scrappy upstart with a lot of charm and appeal that gains a grassroots following and upends the establishment/pre-ordained choice. (Warning: this comparison offered for fun…don’t base your Oscar choices on it!)

  58. As for Best picture, and figuring that SLP and Life of Pi don’t have quite enough juice for the win….

    I feel like it comes down to which of Argo and Lincoln gets the most critical 1s and 2s on preferential ballot.

    Will Argo get the most 1s and/or 2s because its SO well-liked and because of the ‘snub’, or will enough voters say, you know what, Lincoln is a great motion picture (12 noms, great reviews, box office) and give that film the most 1s and 2s? I feel like its all about those 1s and 2s, maybe 3s on the preferential ballot.

  59. I accepted every award that Argo got normal. Till SAG Ensemble. If they had gone with it instead of more deserving Lincoln, SLP and Les Mis I can’t call this “fair race”. It won certainly because of pity votes.

  60. i wonder how much all this “buzz” is affecting academy members. especially the directors branch, the people who didn’t like him enough to nominate him in the first place. is there a chance seeing him win this stuff is actually turning them off more? they must have thought that argo wasn’t THAT great if they didn’t even nominate him, or maybe they don’t like that he’s an actor and not “one of them”. either way, it was something and i can’t imagine seeing him win is making them want to vote for him in order to correct their own “mistake”- if anything they might do the opposite on purpose now.

    i understand that that’s just one branch- but it was 4th in nominations and lincoln and life of pi both had more overall, signifying support for other movies from the other branches. the actors, ok- maybe they do love him that much and feel pity for him, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does. they may think the movie just doesn’t deserve this pity party for affleck

  61. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Historical precedent, for example, told us that The Hurt Locker just couldn’t win Best Picture because of its low box-office. This year may be its own unique case study, not really fully comparable to other years.

    That’s true but deep down I knew it could because its low box office was mitigated by one other thing: making history. I knew the Academy would not pass up a chance to make history – I was really really right that year. I would be on the Argo train were it not for the lack of a director nomination. That meant they liked Beasts and Amour and Silver Linings better than ZDT, Argo and Les Mis. Are they suddenly going to change their minds and like Argo more because of the “snug”? Maybe. That combined with it being a likable movie it’s definitely possible. I would never try to talk anyone out of it – that is not my intention here – just to show people what kind of Oscar history they’re up against. Avatar, in fact, had the harder hill to climb with no acting noms.

  62. That’s true but deep down I knew it could because its low box office was mitigated by one other thing: making history. I knew the Academy would not pass up a chance to make history – I was really really right that year. I would be on the Argo train were it not for the lack of a director nomination. That meant they liked Beasts and Amour and Silver Linings better than ZDT, Argo and Les Mis. Are they suddenly going to change their minds and like Argo more because of the “snug”? Maybe.

    I could be wrong but doesn’t only the directors branch vote on director? Also someone shows how Bigelow and Affleck could’ve lost by 2 votes apiece and not gotten in. It’s like a few hundred voters there vs. 6,000 Academy members voting on all categories. So maybe now the acting branch is supporting Affleck (as SAG indicates) and they’ll be okay splitting their votes from Affleck and Spielberg. In a weird way, maybe Affleck getting a director nod would’ve helped Lincoln not split the ticket.

  63. @CB, I think directors nominate directors, but when it comes to voting, everyone votes on everything.

  64. @Jim – Okay cool that’s what I thought. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. And it also means that Argo winning (in the age of 5-10 best picture nominees) is even more possible, despite precedent. Remember this is the first time since 2009 that the top 5 directors and top 5 films didn’t pretty much spell out who was just lucky to be there.

    I love A Serious Man and District 9, but those nominations were simply award itself to those films, and everyone knew it.

  65. A propos of the Gurus of Gold and the predictions, I do think it’s funny that sometimes the predictors seem really hard to want to make Fetch happen. The HitFix crew votes almost in unison for the top prizes for their favorite – Argo. It’s almost unfair that they cast two or three votes – they always vote in unison on the ones they’re trying to push.

    And not only is it a unison pick, it’s a “I want to push my pick prediction.”

    To be fair, I see that happen elsewhere too.

    It’s kind of the pink elephant in the room.

  66. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    A propos of the Gurus of Gold and the predictions, I do think it’s funny that sometimes the predictors seem really hard to want to make Fetch happen. The HitFix crew votes almost in unison for the top prizes for their favorite – Argo. It’s almost unfair that they cast two or three votes – they always vote in unison on the ones they’re trying to push.

    The one I trust most is Anne Thompson.

  67. Robert A.

    “That’s true but deep down I knew it could because its low box office was mitigated by one other thing: making history.”

    Good point, Sasha.

    “I could be wrong but doesn’t only the directors branch vote on director? Also someone shows how Bigelow and Affleck could’ve lost by 2 votes apiece and not gotten in. It’s like a few hundred voters there vs. 6,000 Academy members voting on all categories.”

    I think this is a key point. The directors vote for the director nominations, and there are about 340 of them vs. about 6000 Academy members. So maybe Argo/Affleck wasn’t one of the top choices for those 340, but does that necessarily reflect the sentiments of the entire Academy? Other than not getting the director nomination, Argo was nominated in every other category it was predicted to get nominated in, and even one or two categories it wasn’t (were people really expecting it to get those sound nominations?). I think the question is: was the lack of a director nomination by the director’s branch an indication of hesitant support by the overall Academy, or is it just a director branch anomaly that doesn’t really reflect the Academy’s overall support for the movie?

    Normally I would think the former, but so far the evidence is suggesting the latter. But we still have more guilds to hear from and nearly another month to go…

  68. Oh, come on! It’s stupid! Gold Derby predicts that “Argo” will have ONLY TWO Oscars (inluding one for best picture). This is IMPOSSIBLE! It would be the first time since THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (so in 60 years) that the best picture wins only 2 Oscars. If “Argo” wins than it has to win also at least adapted screenplay. It has to have at least one IMPORTANT Oscar besides the one for film. Even THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH had one for screenplay. CRASH had original screenplay (and it had only 3 Oscars). ROCKY (3 Oscars) had one for directing.
    But if someone predicts that Kushner will win – than he should also predict that ARGO won’t win. Because these two Oscars are connected this year, IMO.
    And we have to remember that Oscars for sound mixing and sound editing are always unpredictable. ARGO might take them – though I suppose that both will go to LIFE OF PI or SKYFALL.

  69. Jerry Grant: Ask that to The Pianist

  70. “The third hurdle is that Argo must win with only the fourth highest nominations tally. That feat hasn’t been achieved since Chariots of Fire beat Reds 31 years ago.

    The Departed won Best Picture having the fourth most nominations of the night. You can look it up, it’s completely true.”

    Henry Z. is true. Well, allmost – it had the 5th most nominations that year. DREAMGIRLS, BABEL, PAN’S LABIRYNTH and QUEEN had more nominations than THE DEPARTED.
    The same is true abour ARGO this year: it’s the 5th movie (after LINCOLN, LIFE OF PI, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and LES MISERABLES).

  71. IMO the wind blows somewhere else: LIFE OF PI will win! :)

  72. Robert A.

    “Gold Derby predicts that “Argo” will have ONLY TWO Oscars (inluding one for best picture). This is IMPOSSIBLE! It would be the first time since THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (so in 60 years) that the best picture wins only 2 Oscars.”

    Well, if it’s happened before, it’s not impossible, is it? Unlikely, maybe. Impossible, no. There’s no such thing as impossible when it comes to the unwieldy Oscar beast.

    The Greatest Show on Earth didn’t exactly win screenplay. It won Best Motion Picture Story. The Bad and the Beautiful won screenplay, and The Lavender Hill Mob won Story & Screenplay. So The Greatest Show on Earth won the weakest writing award, where it’s competition was My Son John, The Narrow Margin, The Pride of St. Louis, and The Sniper. Still, I get your point. It’s a writing award, even if kind of the lame writing award.

    I think Argo has editing pretty much in the bag. I kind of agree that if Argo is going to win BP, it needs to also win adapted, although I don’t feel 100% about that the way a lot of people do. It is unlikely, though, for a BP winner not to have a win in acting/directing/writing. (It has happened before, but oh, in those distant years when Rebecca won with just cinematography, which was a preferential ballot year, by the way.) But each year is its own beast.

    Adapted screenplay will be exciting on Oscar night. I expect Kushner to win WGA, when just writers are voting, but I’m not as convinced with the Academy, when a majority of the voters will be non-writers.

  73. A thought popped into my head about this whole race. Maybe it’s been brought up before on this site, but just in case.

    Sasha, you keep referencing Nate Silver. This reminds me of the 2012 Election and I see “Argo” as Mitt Romney and “Lincoln” as Barack Obama. Right after the first debate, the numbers shifted dramatically towards Romney after Obama had been comfortably ahead most of the race. After the first debate, Romney’s numbers soared and Obama’s plummeted. Prognosticators basically started calling the race for Romney. It’s Romney’s to lose. Obama’s going down. But just as you are not counting Lincoln out and giving it the edge based solely on the data, so too did Nate Silver continually predict all along that the race was indeed close, but Obama was still ahead.

    I am a deeply pessimistic person, so I was assured that Romney would win and now I’m assured Argo will win. But maybe that’s why I keep coming back to this site, just as I had to Nate Silver’s site. I have a sliver of hope that Lincoln will prevail. A few days ago, I said that Argo is winning it. But I have been re-warming to the prospect that maybe Lincoln still has a fighting chance.

    Maybe Gold Derby is the Gallup of this race, in that while they were widely respected, they turned out to be pretty wrong. Hopefully that is the case this time. Of course, I know that Presidential politics and Oscar politics is very different, and most likely this race will turn out different and Argo will win. But as I said, I still have hope and I thank you, Sasha, and Ryan and all of the Lincoln warriors for keeping that spark in me alive.

  74. It’s not that Academy voters won’t care about the fact that Argo might only win Best Picture and one more award (or none), thus breaking with convention. It’s that they’re likely to vote for Argo in other categories if they like it enough to give it Best Picture. How else does one explain how so many films have swept in the past? Voters haven’t voted for the best choices in each individual category – they’ve voted for their favourite film everywhere it has been nominated (best exemplified by The Return of the King).

    But yes, the preferential ballot may change that. As we know, this means it’ll (probably) come down to their two favourite films out of the nine, and whichever one more people liked more than the other will win. All the winning film needs to do is avoid being in last place after each ballot count.

    Also, Sasha, it concerns me that you’re responding aggressively to commenters who have respectfully criticised you, and threatening to disallow people from celebrating a potential Lincoln loss at the Oscars. I’m not sure that’s fair.

  75. I’ve seen again Lincoln and Argo and I remain of my Idea: Life of Pi or Zero Dark Thirty should win DGA, they represent by far the best achievements in directing this season.

    Hope something happens on sat to have one of the two come home with the DGA, but I’m not that confident about it.

  76. So the last time a movie won Best Picture without a directing nomination was Driving Miss Daisy in 1990, huh? I wonder who won Best Actor that year?

  77. Let’s wait two more days and we’ll know more. If Affleck wins DGA than ARGO won’t win Oscar (as APOLLO 13), but I don’t know to which movie it will lose its award. :/ Academy will have to choose someone in best director category and they might choose in best picture the same movie they will choose in best director (as they did with BRAVEHEART and OUT OF AFRICA). If Spielberg wins than we might have split but more likely is that LINCOLN will win best film and best director. If Lee wins – I don’t know what will happen. :) But if ARGO has any chances at all – than Lee HAS to win. IMO split ARGO/Lee is more probable than ARGO/Spielberg.

  78. @ Paddy…I too think everyone should have a voice, if Argo wins, let them have a voice, if SLP wins, let them.

    Also, when it comes to voting, can voters still “stamp” a ballot. Checking of for best picture only and that will automatically be voters for that movie wherever it shows up on the ballot. Thus…”riding the coattails.”

  79. So if Affleck wins DGA, then Argo won’t win Best Picture…..just because of Apollo 13 loosing to Braveheart.

    That is really a stretch to say that.

  80. daveinprogress

    I’m struggling with the reasoning, Someone. Are you saying that

    If ARGO wins DGA it won’t win Oscar Best Picture (why not? Iwould have thought DGA win = momentum support leading to AMPAS preferential vote for ARGO)

    If Spielberg wins DGA this won’t equal Lincoln BP/BD?

    And that ARGO needs Ang Lee to win DGA, for it (ARGO)to win BP?

    If Pi can take the DGA, it would take some buzz through to Oscar.
    If Lincoln wins DGA, that would add some credence to predix for Oscar double?

    And if ARGO does win DGA, and i’m borrowing from Ryan Adams: “Ergo Argo” Best Picture?

  81. danemychal

    I want to give screenwriters all the credit in the world (because without them, movies don’t exist!) and say there is no way the WGA won’t pick Kushner. But it really pains me to think they might give it to Terrio because not only does Argo have momentum from the previous guilds, but the script might resonate more with them for being at their level of writing capability.

    You can’t look at what Kushner did — writing a 500 page script (that’s 8-1/2 hours of on-screen action, to the uninitiated) full of authentic mid-1800’s dialect and then whittling it down to about 150 — and tell me that many writers in the WGA would be willing to or could do that, let alone make it Oscar-caliber. Kushner is every bit as deserving of an Oscar as Daniel Day-Lewis.

    But again, what Terrio was remarkable too. He made not very intense scenarios boil over with intensity (the airport debacle was fabricated, the Americans living in the Canadian house lived quite comfortably, etc. etc.)

  82. I want to give screenwriters all the credit in the world (because without them, movies don’t exist!) and say there is no way the WGA won’t pick Kushner. But it really pains me to think they might give it to Terrio because not only does Argo have momentum from the previous guilds, but the script might resonate more with them for being at their level of writing capability.
    You can’t look at what Kushner did — writing a 500 page script (that’s 8-1/2 hours of on-screen action, to the uninitiated) full of authentic mid-1800′s dialect and then whittling it down to about 150 — and tell me that many writers in the WGA would be willing to or could do that, let alone make it Oscar-caliber. Kushner is every bit as deserving of an Oscar as Daniel Day-Lewis.
    But again, what Terrio was remarkable too. He made not very intense scenarios boil over with intensity (the airport debacle was fabricated, the Americans living in the Canadian house lived quite comfortably, etc. etc.)

    Just because Kushner’s process was arduous and intense doesn’t mean it yielded the best screenplay, though many certainly think he did. I personally think SLP had the best adapted screenplay this year – far more human, manic, engaging, and actually ambitious. If you want to go by challenges to the screenwriter, I think it’s harder telling a convincing love story than a convincing Abe Lincoln story, because one comes very fresh and the other comes with the automatic gravitas of America’s greatest president.

    As for Argo, adding that airport scene totally took me out of the movie. I knew watching it it could not be true, because pilots know when planes are being shot at, and it makes no sense that the pilots wouldn’t have been contacted by radio. It was a pretty unnecessary extra bit of suspense. But then again that whole movie played as if the screenwriter had read the manual that said ‘Add suspense into every nook and cranny’ and by that point it got insane. I can’t count how many tiny impediments occurred in the last 20 minutes of that movie – and so many ‘suspenseful’ things negated all of them. The firing on the plane was equal to the art being looked at and was equal to Alan Arken trying to get back to his office. It was a fairly ill-considered final act.

  83. If Spielberg wins than LINCOLN probably wins too. But there still might be place for split (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE!). If Lee wins – than obviously LIFE OF PI might win too but I said that IMO it would be easier for ARGO to win with PI than LINCOLN. I don’t have any evidence – I just feel this way. :)
    But yes, I think that if ARGO wins DGA – it won’t win best picture. Not necessarily because example of APOLLO 13 – but simply because Academy won’t have guidence at whom to vote in best director category – and they might choose anybody (maybe except Zeitlin). And if they choose Lee, Spielberg or Russell (or Haneke – but this is quite impossible, knowing the Academy) – then isn’t it possible that they will choose LIFE OF PI or LINCOLN or SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK too – with its director? :) You see, usually, when there are splits – they are because Academy votes for directors chosen by DGA and movies they like in best picture category – but if they don’t have DGA’s guidance – than they vote for movie they like that is nominated in both categories (as OUT OF AFRICA and BRAVEHEART have shown previously), not necessarily one that won SAG, PGA or DGA. :P

  84. daveinprogress

    Looking at stats for the Adapted Screenplay category – in the last 10 years (since 2002) 6 out of the 10 winners did NOT go on to win Best Picture. And only 2 of those 6: The Pianist and Sideways lost BP to another Adapted Screenplay Movie. To complicate matters in this category this year, all 5 nominees are Best Picture contenders, as opposed to 3 of the original screenplay nominees.

    I guess what i’m saying is that it is not a foregone conclusion that whoever wins this Kushner or Terrio or Russell for that matter (could be his only prize) will also win Best Picture. I personally would love to see Tony Kushner win. It could be bitter sweet as it was with Social Network that a great screenplay is not matched with the director getting the prize (or best picture either). It really is Up in the Air (another baffling example Up in the Air – v- Precious).

  85. Sasha, this is the best oscar site by far. My point is that you are hanging tightly to the stats because the stats you cite they support the film you love.

    Facts such as winning the critics choice, globe and SAG are just as important, yet you play these down.

    I haven’t seen Lincoln and found Argo highly entertaining but not BP material. It’s not about what I like. The Argo express is coming through, whether we like it or not

  86. @someone….that still doesn’t make much sense to me, an Affleck win at DGA won’t leave the Academy with any guidance? The first box to check off on the ballot will be for Best Picture, and I really doubt that they will compare what pictures have director nominations. Some will I am sure, but some voters will check off picture and that is it. The academy voters don’t have to check off in ever category.

  87. @someone….as far as Braveheart winning over Apollo 13, it may not have been just because of the director noms as Tom Oneal at Gold Derby explained.

    “Of all of the recent Oscar articles I’ve read making parallels between “Argo” and “Apollo 13″ – and I’ve canvassed the web over the past few days – not one has correctly explained why “Apollo 13″ lost. That’s relevant because the same factor doesn’t exist today and, if you take that into account, then this year’s “Apollo 13″ – “Argo” – may indeed be cleared for take-off.

    “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.”

  88. AnthonyP

    I’m picking Argo to win, but if you think Nate Silver is a good prognosticator, then I will happily be wrong, because he’s also picking my 49ers to win the Super Bowl.

  89. and threatening to disallow people from celebrating a potential Lincoln loss at the Oscars. I’m not sure that’s fair.

    Life’s not fair. Tough luck!

  90. Terometer

    “The one I trust most is Anne Thompson.”

    So how about her The Sessions predictions? Probably the last two that refused to give up on Lincoln. poor souls. haha. Can’t wait for the two to apologize to Kris and Jeff.

  91. PaulinJapan

    Picking Oscar winners is more art than science, so the Nate Silver references are bulls**t, in my book.

    Picking Lincoln to win, as you’re “going by the numbers” is also bulls**t. I’ll pick the movie that has won the most critics groups awards, has the highest RT score, won Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG and PGA, and is most likely to win DGA and BAFTA. I’ll also stick with the movie that has the most momentum, is generally the most liked and least polarizing, to go on and win a preferential ballot Oscar night.

  92. rufussondheim

    Sasha says, “I would be on the Argo train were it not for the lack of a director nomination. That meant they liked Beasts and Amour and Silver Linings better than ZDT, Argo and Les Mis.” — No, that just means the very small director’s branch decided to throw its votes to those five films for Best Direction.

    AMPAS at large, though, is 20 times larger than the director’s branch and they have a different mindset.

  93. I agree with Andrew, the very best oscar site!

  94. I don’t think that means a different mindset, rufus – perhaps the voting was that close in the nominations. We don’t know placement in the voting for the nominations, only the results.

    Now that the finalists have been determined, everybody readjusts. Sasha is only reporting a very valid stat that BP and BD are very seldom detached. If it was ever going to happen again, this would be the year for it, though.

  95. WAIT A MINUTE!!!

    The chart shows “Argo” with 7 first place votes and 5 second place votes.
    The chart shows “Lincoln” with 5 first place votes and 7 second place votes.
    Yet, “Licoln” is in first place with a higher tally? Bias showing?

  96. rufussondheim

    Tony, one of those second place votes for Argo is actually a third.

  97. Robert A.

    @ Tony

    The reason for the confusion with the chart is that Scott Feinberg initially had Lincoln had #1, SLP at #2, and Argo at #3, giving Lincoln a point advantage over Argo. But then after Sasha posted this article, Feinberg changed his rankings: Argo #1, Lincoln #2, SLP #3. Sasha changed the votes in Feinberg’s column to reflect his changes.

  98. Sasha – I agree re Anne. Of all of us she seems to keep her head the most and her passions out of it the least – not that passion is bad – I love your and others’ sites passion (otherwise, if we didn’t have passion for the movies we love, why would we bother caring or debating this) – but I do think Anne has a more level-headed approach.

    Still, if Argo wins DGA+BAFTA+ACE+WGA – would you still have it only 20% chance of winning? On the strength of history alone?

    I would sadly disagree with you – very sadly – and say that Argo would be a 99% lock at that point.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  99. “AMPAS at large, though, is 20 times larger than the director’s branch and they have a different mindset.”
    Well, they don’t. If they had – they would choose movies without best director nomination more often.

  100. SeattleMoviegoer

    i just want surprises. i want moments when the envelope is opened and you say “WTF”! Roman Polanski for THE PIANIST. Marcia Gay Harden for POLLOCK. winners that come out of left field but make sense. to go against this blog of “common wisdom,” i can’t see the Academy loving ANNA KARENINA enough to give it 2 design Oscars. nor can i see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK winning much at all. it hasn’t exactly stormed the critics or guild awards. and Lawrence would be one of those, “well, we have to give it to SOMEONE!” kind of honors. they might as well rename the Best Actress Oscar the Sandra Bullock award. even tho i am rooting for LINCOLN, i would love to see LES MIZ win the most Oscars and even pull off a BP award. if that happened, the heads of most of those here on Awards Daily would melt like the guys at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

  101. By the way: were can I find the list of the members of the directors’ branch? :)

  102. @SeattleMoviegoer: Well, I like suprises too. Sometimes. Polanski, Marcia Gay Harden – great. But there are also suprises like CRASH winning – what was TRULY AWFUL. So it’s sometimes better when there are no suprises at all. :P

  103. @Ben – Consolation prize for Amour would not be foreign language film. One way or another it is going to win more than one award.

  104. It is very much possible this year Academy can choose other than Argo, Lincoln or SLP for the Best Picture. We should consider this.

  105. “No, that just means the very small director’s branch decided to throw its votes to those five films for Best Direction.
    AMPAS at large, though, is 20 times larger than the director’s branch and they have a different mindset.”

    But that’s 300 people right there who (on average) won’t have Argo within the top 5 of their Best Picture ballots. Add on the fact that the cinematographers branch and the art directors branch could have easily nominated Argo as well, but chose not to.

  106. rufussondheim

    Patrick, do you think Art Directors are so simpleminded that they won’t for Argo for Best Pic unless they think it has the best Art Direction?

  107. At least EW saw fit to include Hunger Games in its “Nominated for Nothing” ongoing series: http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/02/01/nominated-for-nothing-hunger-games/

    This action-adventure teen bait — based on the book trilogy of the same name — takes place in a post-apocalyptic nation called Panem, a dystopia that forces 12 unlucky children to participate in an annual fight-to-the-death competition called The Hunger Games. However, this long-running competition is shaken up when fiery spirit Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) enters the arena and inspires a revolution. Oh, and there’s a love triangle in there, too.

    *Why it Wasn’t Nominated*: Young adult novel adaptations have never fared well with Oscar. (This year, there are three* book adaptations in the Best Picture race: Les Misérables, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi.) The most often cited example of the Academy’s tendency to snub young-skewing fiction is the Harry Potter films, all of which failed to grab nominations in non-technical categories and never won an award in any category. Those staggering stats come despite breaking box office records and gaining heaps of critical praise over the course of an entire decade worth of films.

    So even though Hunger Games has some very adult themes — government propaganda, death — its YA origins leave the movie unfortunately pegged merely as a film for teens, which, as we’ve pointed out previously in this NFN series, is an Oscar Kiss of Death. And considering the Potter snub precedent, it’s almost safe to assume that Games never had a chance.

    But what about the acting categories? The Academy’s failure to recognize the movie’s talented cast is slightly more baffling considering Woody Harrelson, who played drunken mentor Haymitch, is a two-time Oscar nominee and star Lawrence has not only been nominated before (for her role in 2010′s Winter’s Bone) but is a nominee this year for Silver Linings Playbook. Perhaps that, too, comes back to the movie’s perceived younger-skewing material. If so, that’s sad.

    *Why History Will Remember It Better Than Amour* (me: heh heh heh…): Simply put, because there are at least two (likely three) more highly-anticipated films to go in the series. And with the inaugural film’s monster box office start, this franchise is on track to be one of the highest grossing ever. Propelling the series into success is a cult of Games-worshipers. Just like Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings and, of course, Star Wars, passionate fans — who both admire Katniss and envy her smörgåsbord of pining men — have turned a simple film into a phenomenon.

    Moreover, it’s hard to ignore that the franchise is helmed by an actress whose professional esteem seems to swell with every passing year. By Hollywood standards, Lawrence is the Holy Grail — an actress who can both bring in critical acclaim and box office bucks (not to mention highly GIF-able). Oscar or not, Lawrence’s star power — like Hunger Games fever — shows no signs of dying down any time soon.

    * Argo and Lincoln also had book-based inspirations, but are widely considered true story accounts rather than straight adaptations.

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