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The State of the Race: Argo Takes Back the Lead

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And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ 
” – Bob Dylan

Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere threatened to jump off the Santa Barbara pier last night if Lincoln had won the Producers Guild. He was dead serious. Welcome to the Oscar race in 2013.

Before Toronto, Argo hit the Telluride Film Festival, where it was received with standing ovations – it was a surefire crowdpleaser with enough gravitas to take it through awards season. The charming and affable Affleck was hard to resist even then as he did something I had really seen him do during The Town — he put himself front and center. Affleck is that guy men and women love — hell, children and dogs love. And in 2012, Affleck IS the Oscar story.

After Silver Linings Playbook beat Argo at the Tortonto International Film Fest, all of the pundits put Silver Linings at the top, save for a few of us. For me, Argo seemed like a film that could go all the way but it was missing a key ingredient, that “Oscar story” to give voters incentive to pick that movie over the array of other movies we’d seen so far. Silver Linings took the buzz away from Argo. Silver Linings was “The Karger pick.” Would the Weinsteins have a three-peat and win Best Picture again for the third year running?

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln was shown at the New York Film Festival after a viewer at an early screening saw it and said “it’s just a bunch of people in a room talking.” Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere.com seized upon that and had his Spielberg take-down ready to launch. Turns out it was a wasted effort on his part as, despite the great reviews for Lincoln, the writing and acting awards, Spielberg did not get rewarded as director. No take-down needed. Lincoln just kept getting nominated everywhere which gave pundits and critics a false sense of a Goliath. The truth is that anyone looking more carefully could see that Lincoln was an unlikely a winner as ever hit the Oscar race — even with as much going for it as it had it was and is a film about ideas. Films about ideas don’t win film awards because awards don’t just hand a gold statue over to filmmakers; they reward our collective enthusiasm at a fixed point in time.

Despite that, many loved Lincoln and called it the best film of the year. To date, it has made $166 million dollars. Its producer, Kathleen Kennedy is the most nominated producer at the Oscars with zero wins. Its writer turned a giant book into a beautifully written screenplay that not only reminds us of how difficult it was to even pass the 13th amendment but how much inequality is still around us in America today. The lead actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, built an Abe from whole cloth, carefully stitching together who he thought the man had to be to do the things Lincoln was famous for — pardoning deserting soldiers from the Civil War, allowing his children to run wild in the White House, his kindness to animals and yes, his evolving ideas about equality — though he, like most back then, did not believe blacks were equal to whites, he was moving in that direction. “Freedom first.” It is a vivid and memorable masterpiece. And yet, it hasn’t won any major awards.

That made pundits like Dave Karger, Steve Pond, Kris Tapley, Tom O’Neil and others grapple for what COULD win. They felt Lincoln COULDN’T. The movie that burst onto the scene to knock out Lincoln was Les Miserables which seemed to have everything Lincoln did not — it was pure hard-charged emotion, singers filmed in close-up singing live. It was so moving, in fact, that Gold Derby declared that Les Miserables would sweep the Oscars, Tapley concurred, Karger too. Les Miserables was the film to beat. Except that they all said this before the reviews came out. The reviews for Les Mis turned out to be the most divisive of all of the films up for Best Picture. That could only mean one thing: it was divisive and if there’s one thing you can’t be it’s divisive.

Somehow, because it was a frontrunner, Lincoln then by default became divisive. Some people HATED it suddenly, especially when they imagined it winning awards. No one seemed to feel the need to hand Spielberg the brass ring again. That urge to reward is like the urge to push — you can only keep it at bay for so long before your muscles take over. The New York Times featured two video segments of reporters, and David Carr, trashing Lincoln.

But when Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty hit, pundits called it “the Argo killer.” Once critics saw Zero Dark Thirty, it shot up in esteem, winning the New York Film Critics award and every other award in its path. THAT was the movie to beat. David Poland said “Zero Dark Thirty isn’t a movie, it is THE movie.”

It looked as though Kathryn Bigelow might break ranks with Oscar history and possibly win again, even though she’d just won in 2009. The only critic who seemed to notice that little detail about torture was New York Magazine’s David Edelstein. He said it was a movie Dick Cheney would love. Huh? Everyone said. What’s that? Before long, anti-torture activists and writers went on the attack, some even before seeing the movie. Critics went on the defense — some claiming it’s art and should therefore not be touched, and some denying that it shows torture “working.” The more the denials came, the harder the activists stepped on the gas, up to and including Ed Asner and Martin Sheen who called upon the Academy to boycott the film.

The debate about Zero Dark Thirty continues to rage — the fact of the matter is that the film doesn’t advocate torture. The filmmakers did not set out to make a piece of propaganda. But they also didn’t realize the big pile of shit they were about to step into. In fact, most of us seeing the movie early didn’t realize it either. It has to do with a tiny piece of information gotten from a “detainee under duress.” The White House doubts the information can be trusted, since it was taken from a “detainee under duress” but the film shows that the information was to be trusted, torture was used, torture worked. Bigelow and Boal were working from first-hand accounts, sources who say this was how it went down. The problem is, the truth is still under seal and a whole bunch of other people say it didn’t happen. Zero Dark Thirty is a film that should be appreciated on its own as a masterful work of art by one of the most talented directors of our time, and the torture conversation is still one worth having.

Zero Dark Thirty’s sudden rise and fall is something I’ve never seen go down in the 14 years I’ve been covering the race. Twitter has become a “problem,” shall we say, in all things and its having an impact this year in the awards race as people form teams and advocate hard for the films they like. When Zero Dark Thirty was winning one award after another it was called “the Argo killer.” Because it was, in all ways, a deeper, harder, more brilliant film about finding and killing Bin Laden, the only film in the race with a female lead who wasn’t attached to a male, it made Argo look like child’s play.

But the controversy knocked Zero Dark Thirty out of the winner’s spot and suddenly the critics, who had embraced it passionately, jumped ship like rats and their default film couldn’t be Lincoln (too talky, too boring) and it couldn’t be Les Mis (divisive) and it couldn’t be Silver Linings Playbook (a romcom?) so it would be Argo, the least divisive, most enjoyable, general audience crowdpleaser.

But how could it be Argo when no one really had any passion for it to begin with, other than it was a good movie and Ben Affleck had finally gotten it right? (I actually think The Town is a better film overall and my favorite of his). What Argo was missing was an “Oscar story.” Well, that story was delivered by the stork when Oscar nominations were announced. A wacky date change and a confusing season turned out snubs for Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck. Bigelow was still made to stand in the corner, but a surprising narrative emerged, “poor Ben Affleck.”

When Ben Affleck won director and picture from the Critics Choice Affleck got not one but two standing ovations. He and the film repeated that win at the Golden Globes. Even my 75-year-old father who pays no attention to the awards race at all knew Affleck had been snubbed. “Poor Ben Affleck” became the narrative and it would prove tough to beat.

The Producers Guild was meant to settle things. Last night’s awards were to show which direction the race was headed in — the film they all picked was Argo. It has no baggage, no controversy, no New York Times videos talking about how unlikable it is, no bloggers trying to take it down, no sudden exposes written in fancy lit journals trashing its subject matter, no bad reviews — just a sad story of a director who made good but who then got snubbed by the mean old folks in the directors branch.

Argo may go on to win the DGA. It might even win the SAG ensemble tonight. It might win all of the guilds, even the Writers Guild award. But to win Best Picture is still has to:

  • Become the first film in all PGA/Oscar history to win without a director’s nomination.
  • The second film in Oscar history to win with the 4th most nominations
  • The second in 65 years of Oscar/DGA history to win Best Picture without a director nomination (the fourth in 85 years of Oscar history)

Voters don’t look at those stats because the heart wants it wants. They merely check off the film they like best. And this year it was once again, as it’s been since 2009, the least offensive film of the bunch, the least divisive, wins.

The “poor Ben Affleck” Oscar story is a powerful one. They don’t have impoverished Indian children to rescue, nor a silent movie from the brink of obscurity, nor a stuttering king, but they have an extremely likable director in an extremely likable film who got snubbed by 300 or so of the directors. And that, I fear, will drive this baby home.

Probably the DGA is just going to confirm this, but if someone else manages to win there we’ll have another shift in this race. I don’t think the Oscar voters will see fit to reward Steven Spielberg if they aren’t going to reward him at the DGA. Since the Oscar for directing can’t go to Affleck, it will have to go elsewhere, perhaps Benh Zeitlin will win. Perhaps Ang Lee will win.

The outcome is still uncertain, but there seems to be a better chance than there’s ever been that Argo will be named prom king. I mean, Best Picture of the Year.

The best part of the Oscar race isn’t when they’re picking winners. It’s when the possibilities are endless and those of us dream the impossible can become possible. It’s funny that it almost never turns out that way. There are many Argo and Affleck fans who believe just that event is unfolding before their eyes. There are still Les Miserables fans who are holding out hope that their movie will win. There are also many Silver Linings Playbook fans and Life of Pi fans who are hoping that their movie will win.

And then there are those of us patron saints of lost causes who believe that the best film really should win. The masterpiece. The only great art is divisive art. Thus, the consensus vote will never lean that way. Sure, sometimes they line up beautifully but most of the time they don’t.

Movies like Lincoln, The Social Network, Hugo are the ones we here at Awards Daily champion not because they’re winners or ever going to be but because they are films you can dive into many times, come back up for air, dive in again and find more to see. Complex, perhaps difficult to access, not readily consumed in one sitting — those are cinematic achievements that will ultimately mean more to film history than what a few thousand can agree upon. On the other hand, it’s hard not to turn around and not find a great movie this year — they have all been so, so good.

This year I learned that Jimmy Carter was never able to take credit for freeing hostages in Iran. I was reminded that the debate about torture still rages on and will define our past as much as our future. I found inner peace and a triumphant sense of immortality in Life of Pi. I saw that an artist can still feel free to take enormous risks without worrying about fitting in or winning awards, as Benh Zeitlin did with Beasts of the Southern Wild.

I learned that sometimes taking a big risk might not pay off, as Tom Hooper did with Les Miserables, but that risk was still worth taking no matter if it becomes the “general consensus pick” or not. I learned what the definition of love really is in Amour and perhaps a little about laughter in Silver Linings Playbook. I was disturbed and entertained by Django Unchained so what does that say about me?

And finally I learned that, after 40 years directing films, an artist has emerged in Steven Spielberg. He made the movie no one ever thought he could — shying away from being a crowdpleaser and taking the more difficult, least sentimental route. Lincoln is a masterpiece. If you didn’t get that the first time through watch it again. You will be richly rewarded, I promise. “Not enough epic scenes!” the crowd shouted. “He should have ended it with Lincoln walking down the hallway!” They complained. Despite the fact that Lincoln probably won’t win Best Picture or Best Director, it is the one movie that has confirmed to me what I already knew about the awards race: the films themselves are their own reward.

The trick is to remember that the movies you love are not race horses, nor politicians, nor football teams but vivid collaborations of artists who give more than they get. The trick is to remember that a film not winning an Oscar doesn’t define that film’s greatness in any way, but merely takes a mirrored snapshot of who were were once and what captured our fickle hearts. The trick is not minding.

159 Comments on this Post

  1. Sasha,

    I can appreciate your enthusiasm for Lincoln, but do find that your general tone is that it’s “too good to win” mildly condescending. I strongly disagree – Lincoln is not particularly subtle, or a film about “ideas” – it’s a better than average biopic with a strong cast. To put it in the same breath as The Social Network is borderline laughable. Taste is subjective I know, but while I can see The Social network ranking in the top ten of this decade in 2019 when those lists are made, I would be surprised if Lincoln was in the top 50. Frankly, though I do not think Argo is the best movie nominated, I certainly enjoyed it more than Lincoln, and would find it to be a more inspired choice than to give it to the juggernaut biopic which wasn’t particularly intelligent or subtle. And yes, I’ve read team of rivals and admire the difficulty of adapting it into a narrative, but the actual movie was not strong simply because it comes from dense source material. To act as though it’s too complex or intelligent is a fallacy – portending to be about big ideas doesn’t make a film dense or insightful. All credit to DDL and Tommy Lee Jones, but apart from them, the movie failed on almost every account. I’ve been dreading the Lincoln coronation since it looked like it might happen, and I for one refuse to believe if it doesn’t happen it’s because it’s “too smart”. I’d argue quite the opposite in fact. The Social Network is one of my favorite movies of the last few years (hell, maybe of all time) and it offends me to see something as middling and uninspired as Lincoln named along side of it.

    That said, I appreciate your exhaustive coverage of the season and will continue to read your thoughts. Though we may disagree, I do admire your honestly.

  2. Is there any chance that Argo can be like Apollo 13? Win PGA, DGA, Sag ensemble and still lose the best picture Oscar? If so who is this year’s Braveheart? Could it still be Lincoln?

    Silver Linings Playbook shouldn’t win best picture or director as Harvey Weinstein has already won two Oscars back to back. Yet some people have a problem with Spielberg winning three director Oscars. He belongs in the company of Capra and Wyler. Spielberg has not won enough. Weinstein has won enough. I don’t think that Spielberg can reach Ford’s record of four wins though.

    But if the Academy feels that Spielberg has enough then give the best director Oscar to Ang lee who has also made many great films. Ben Zeitlin is too new to win. He needs to make more great films. Last year a French filmmaker won. To have another Frenchman win would be a bit too much though Riva deserves to win. Hanecke has a better chance to win original Screenplay over Tarantino and Boal.

  3. This is the definitive piece of the season.

  4. You know what I cant understand? How the film is loved sooo much, yet they didnt nominate him for Best Director. I just cant fathom it. Are they awarding this over guilt? Im dumbfounded.

  5. Three years ago the story “poor women: they never won an Oscar for BD” was a powerful one. This year the story “poor Affleck: he was snubbed” is a powerful one. The difference is that Argo is not belligerent propaganda like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. It’s just brilliant entertainment. Not a masterpiece but masterpieces rarely win oscars. With The Master out of the race, Argo is a good choice. If it will win, I will be satisfied.

  6. My “wishful thinking” side still wants this to come down to Lincoln and Les Mis simply because they both are truly “about something”. They have true character that is likely to hold up for the long haul. Where you love, like, don’t care, or hate either or both of them, no one can deny that something important is going on. Lincoln is probably the definitive discussion of the last days of our 16th President. DDL delivers a masterful (if not his best) performance in becoming Lincoln. Les Mis brings back the musical in a big way with an operatic film delineating the power of love in all lives for all sorts of reasons, and Hugh Jackman gives a performance that simply could not have been done by anyone else on earth.

    Argo, SLP, ZDT or Django might win the big prizes, but quite frankly it will be because the voters either chickened out or went with the flow and not because they were truly looking for The Best Picture and the two men who brought the roles to life.

  7. “The trick is to remember that a film not winning an Oscar doesn’t define that film’s greatness in any way, but merely takes a mirrored snapshot of who were were once and what captured our fickle hearts.”
    -Thank you.

  8. Felipe Scofield

    One of the best posts I have ever read on this blog.
    Congratulations Sasha!

    I am completely entertained by this Oscar Race. The shifts of attention are really so exciting, when compared to the dullness of previous years.
    I am a Life of Pi fan, but I guess I have to content myself with a best score/cinematography/perhaps visual effects scenario.

    I really got no clue who is going to take it.
    I still don’t believe Argo will, am I a fool to think that?

  9. This was well thought out and written article Sasha. Since Affleck’s egregious Oscar snub, I knew that was his ‘Oscar story’ and it was the fuel that would pave the way for him to win many other accolades along the way. Argo’s PDA win last night is solid proof that Argo is the film to beat. And as much as I enjoyed ZDT and Lincoln, because Argo’s director was not even nominated, that’s why I am 99% sure Argo will win best picture, and Spielberg will win Director (and that’s only because Affleck wasn’t nominated!).

  10. I have been saying this since first critics awards: People don’t want to give Spielberg 3rd BD Oscar. It is Oscar politics.

    I am afraid of they wouldn’t reward DDL too.

  11. Unlikely hood

    Last year before the Artist won they said “Hollywood-on-Hollywood” is a loser sub-genre, never won despite some great chances (sunset blvd, singin in the rain, the player, boogie nights).

    That sub-genre is about to win 2 BPs in a row.

    There are a lot of possible reasons, but here’s one: Hollywood feels more insecure than ever as a boil on the ass of whatever corporate conglomeration, and so voters like to say “hey we’re not just another part of Fox’s portfolio. We have a history. A good one.”

    Or maybe Ben Affleck is just cute.

  12. Mohammed

    First, I love Argo. I think Ben Affleck is evolving to one of the finest new filmmakers in Hollywood. He has made three acclaimed films in the span of five years. He wasn’t only robbed this year, he was robbed with Gone Baby Gone.

    Second; There is far too much use of the term “Masterpiece”. I have seen many good films, a few great, and even fewer Masterpieces in the past decade. A SEPARATION is a MASTERPIECE. SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER, SPRING… is a MASTERPIECE. These are films that are trully about ideas that moved me. None of them got nominated for best picture.

    One can argue about the reasons why Argo is keep winning and Lincoln is losing. But the fact remains; Critics saw Lincoln and they saw Argo, and they recognised one to be the better film. It has the reviews to show for it, and it has the box office, and now it’s getting the well deserved kudos it deservs.

    And the best thing is that it did it without sailing on a pro-torture message, without demonising the iranians, and without boring its audience.

  13. Mohammed, critics awards isn’t about liking nowadays. ZD30 was winning everything on its way before tourture issue. After torture issue started critics began to give it all to Argo. It means their hurt was with ZD30 but because of torture they gave it to others.

  14. Danemychal

    Very nice summary of the race from the beginning up to now, Sasha. Cool to see how many front runners there have been this year when there is typically only 1 and usually only 1 potential spoiler. I’m definitely not ready to write off Lincoln or SLP yet; you just can’t do that. Remember how we all thought Affleck & Bigelow & Hawkes were locks and didnt even have Weaver on our radar? The Academy is their own beast. In a year this tight, I expect these vote totals are really close and the only voting body that exactly matches Oscar’s is — well — AMPAS. If anyone is claiming to know who will win, they are full of shit. We have a new front runner today, nothing more and nothing less.

  15. Vitamin168

    I am also a fan of “Life of Pi” and will be happy for whatever awards oscar throw at it. Afterall, Oscar is an American award, just like Sasha’s frequent quote on the domestic box office number of Lincoln without even bother mentioning that the global number of an art house film like Life of Pi is actually passing half a billion milestone. I did compare the box office number Argo and Life of Pi in international market, particularly in the countries with native languge as English. Life of Pi is outperforming Argo in all of those markets (Australia, New Zealand, UK), and also in every European countries as well. Let us face it, Argo or Lincoln are great American movies and Oscar is a great American award to honor great American movies. Nothing more and nothing less. The obssession of such topics like past US great President, CIA operation, Osama Bin Laden, and Slavery,though having a great audience in USA, simply may not resonate that well in global market.

  16. filmboymichael

    Save for Silver Linings and Les Mis, this is a year where any other of the nominees for best pic would be excellent choices. Of those, my favourite, Life of Pi doesn’t really stand a chance other than the tech sweep I predict. It’s a really great year for film.

  17. I want to remind everybody that it’s improbable for a movie to win just Best Picture. We haven’t seen this done since the early 30s. If Argo is going to win Best Picture, it HAS to win at least 1 other major Oscar. When you look at the seasons where the BP winner and BD winner didn’t match, you saw wins in the acting, screenplay, and editing categories. Lets review:

    2005 – Crash won for Best Screenplay and Best Editing.
    2002 – Chicago won for Best Supporting Actress and Best Editing.
    2000 – Gladiator won for Best Actor
    1998 – Shakespeare in Love won for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay
    1989 – Driving Miss Daisy won for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay
    1981 – Chariots of Fire won for Best Original Screenplay.
    There’s more, but you get the picture.

    A stronger sign for Argo would be if Arkin took home the SAG and Argo won the WGA and/or Eddie.

    At the moment, you still have to put your money on Lincoln. It has more potential to win more Oscars, and it already has the Best Actor trophy.

  18. It seems obvious to me that if ARGO is indeed the one to beat, it’ll collect statuettes for Best Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing as well.

  19. The Dark Alfred

    Can’t see Argo winning. It might score the most #1 picks, but Lincoln will be close second. I just don’t see Argo winning BP with 2 wins overall. It might win editing, but surely they won’t give it to Arkin and they can’t ignore’s Kushner’s masterpiece script. Maybe Argo can land best score, but that’s Pi’s to lose as well. So reality is BP and best editing.

  20. Great column Sasha! I agree with you strongly about Lincoln and about what the race means. It’s still disappointing though, to be told year after year that something else is best – every once in a while, for those of us who like the awards, it would be nice to see your choice picked. The trick is not minding, but what a hard trick it is!

    I’ve always thought Argo is an almost generic thriller, with a contrived story line far afield from reality (the last airport chase scene). It’s a good movie but there’s nothing special in it. I guess it’s a crowd-pleaser? Isn’t SLP more of a crowd pleaser though? Anyway. Nothing special or remarkable about Argo to me.

    Oh well.

  21. richard crawford

    Love everyone involved.
    Argo ain’t the best movie

  22. @ Bruce L : yes, they are rewarding ‘Argo” out of guilt.

  23. Byron E. Gray

    Ever since the political commisars of the Hollywood Left denounced Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow is lucky there is no labor camp in Hollywood to be sent to), I’ve always thought this year’s Oscar race would be a no-brainer: Argo, though playing fast and loose with the facts as it does, will win The Oscar simply because it celebrates moviemaking as an instrument that saved lives! An academy member can feel so good about his “noble” industry by voting for it. LOL.

  24. Sasha, as I wrote somewhere here, considering that only 5 or 6 women have ever won a best picture Oscar, it’s not a surprise the academy is more likely to feel the need to repair Ben Affleck’s undeserving snub that to give one of the most important producers of all time a long deserving best picture Oscar… That she lost in one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the BP category: E.T. Losing to Gandhi, a good film but that, just like TKS went for the over sentimentalism and forgettable writing. If Lincoln went in this trend it would sweep (and no comparison to War Horse, an extremely old fashioned film… Biopics have never been old fashioned… There have always been a bunch of them every decade). Thankfully i’m happy to see the general public responded so well to this smart biopic.

  25. alan of montreal

    I’m beginning to think that Michael Haneke will take director, though I’m still leaning towards Ang Lee. Amour is playing here now, so I hope to check it out (along with The Impossible).

  26. In a system with a preferential ballot, Argo has a huge advantage. Many of the nominated films this year are “love it or hate it” movies. The only movie in the list that everyone can be ok with winning is Argo.

    Lincoln has passionate support, like Sasha, but many have called it boring
    Les Miserables is the definition of divisive
    Silver Linings Playbook is a feel good movie, but many feel it isn’t even deserving of a nom.
    Life of Pi is a great achievement, but lack of actors can hurt this
    Amour is a love it or hate it film
    Beasts of the Southern Wild is love it or hate it AND it ran into problems with the unions
    Django has caused some, like Spike Lee, to speak out against it… Too controversial
    Zero Dark 30 has been seen as pro torture by some… Too controversial

    The worst thing anyone can say about Argo is that John Goodman didn’t have enough screen time. In all seriousness, people like Argo. it’s a well-made, well-acted movie and would not be an unworthy Oscar winner in the eyes of almost everyone.

    Preferential ballot winners = consensus. Argo makes the most sense here.

  27. alan of montreal

    And while there might be some sympathy votes for Ben Affleck, he also has a great back story that I think carries him into the Oscars, even in spite of the lack of a directing nod–a former Hollywood Golden Boy who won an Oscar for his first major film, then fell on hard times due to substance abuse (and J Lo), then re-invented himself as a masterful director–it’s a movie unto itself. And if there’s one thing that Oscar loves, it’s a good navel-gazing comeback story.

  28. (1) Great piece, Sasha. We can’t look to awards as validation of films we already know to be brilliant. And a Best Picture award doesn’t suddenly turn a routine or even good film into a great one, not now or ever.

    (2) Is Argo winning Screenplay then? I feel it’s more likely that it will win Picture, Editing, and at least one other (major) Oscar, even with the Affleck snub, than just Picture and Editing. Is Sound Mixing a free-for-all?

    (3) Why is Argo winning everything?

    (4) If Argo wins SAG, which I still don’t see happening, then it’s done. It’s so done.

    (5) Even without the SAG, Argo, which isn’t an actors’ movie anyway, is on track to match The Artist last year in terms of winning every other major award so far. Even The Hurt Locker, the steady frontrunner in its season, lost the Globe to Avatar (not a big deal; understandable) and of course the SAG to Inglourious Basterds (expected). No Country, The Departed, and Million Dollar Baby lost the Globe. Crash wasn’t even up. Argo is matching The Artist and doing better than any other Best Picture winner since Slumdog. Stunning.

    What is it about this Hollywood self-love-fest and/or Affleck and Clooney that it’s summarily winning everything? It’s good, but it can’t be that much of a vote leader–not when the directors snubbed Affleck, and not when there are other strong films in the race.

    (6) Argo has already outpaced Apollo 13 since that didn’t win the Globe. However, the SAG and DGA are still up in the air.

    (7) Do the same people who gushed over The King’s Speech really not care for Lincoln? Are they voting against Lincoln? I love Lincoln but barely thought TKS was any good; is there really a sizable portion of the Academy and critics who feels the OPPOSITE of what I do?

    (8) Does Spielberg have no clout?

    (9) Are a 4th and 5th Oscar really considered excessive for the greatest living director?

    (10) Who’s winning Best Director if NOT Spielberg? I could see Ang Lee, but since when did directors win for CGI-heavy, non-actor-friendly fantasy films before? If anything, the epics sweep the top awards or don’t win any of them. Zeitlin, Haneke, and Russell should be happy to be nominated, but who knows.

  29. Let’s not leave out another ace Argo has up its sleeve: Clooney. Who in Hollywood doesn’t want to see Affleck and Clooney closing out the Oscar ceremony on stage with a big Argo-Fuck-Yourself-Naysayers win?

  30. Good breakdown, Sasha.

    The only reason we have an actual race this year is because so many mainstream movies fit the bill and there is no general consensus yet. We are at the point in the race where that about to change.

    If the last two years have taught us anything, Oscar now wants to give us the simplified and triumphant without the complications of regret, ambiguity, or exaggerated reality that is imagination or memory. Thinking and analyzing are not options, either – just straight up, easy to grasp storytelling. That mindset remains – tell it the way I want to hear it, don’t confuse me or demand much from me, and make sure that all is fine at the end.

    Only two films do that this year: Argo and Silver Linings Playbook.

    All of the others took a variety of risks in subject matter and style, some successfully, others less so. All deserve credit for doing so, however.

    AMPAS wants to honor the uncluttered movie about winners. We want to see something well made that makes us feel good about ourselves, whether valid or not. We want cake, not vegetables, and that’s what Oscar provides.

  31. @GB, I don’t understand why Clooney is treated like the Cary Grant of our time, or better. He’s not THAT endlessly charming. He makes good films and has dramatic chops, but not much range. And he may be a humanitarian, but how much of Hollywood really likes seeing him advocating higher taxes while jet skiing with Stacy Keibler, and meanwhile the rest of them are working hard to break through or sustain their fame. Just a thought.

    To me there is no strong success story narrative this year — most of the nominees are returning favorites — but I suppose if I was actually rooting for them, I’d see Benh Zetlin, Jessica Chastain, and even Quvenzhane Wallis as true underdog-success stories more than any of the true frontrunners. And I can see the passion behind Les Mis, Jackman, and Hathaway, even though only one of them has a real shot anyway.

  32. “The films themselves are their own reward.” Truer words were never written. Good, well great, post, although I have a quibble on some of your recollections. Seems to me YOU were the only pundit that called ZD30 the Argo killer. I saw both and I (Like MANY others, including critics who thought it was the “cool” thing to do to put ZD30 above Argo in their year end lists)simply liked Argo better as a film. Argo is just a great fucking movie (as you put it) whereas ZD30 is filmed journalism. THAT’s why it got hurt about the true to life inaccuracy of it and Argo didn’t. Argo never pretended to be anything other than a movie whose main motive was to entertain, not be Oscar bait or be journalism. Another thing, the Film Critics and Gold Globes were voted on BEFORE the Oscar snub came out, so you cannot say those were votes out of sympathy. They simply liked the film the best. Now the PGA (and any others to follow)win you perhaps COULD say are out of sympathy and that’s OK. It is an outrage Affleck and Bigelow were not nominated as directors IMO. It was an outrage when the director of Apollo 13 (Howard) wasn’t. I’m surprised it didn’t win anyway. Maybe it really should have won over Braveheart. The whole “if the director isn’t nominated the film shouldn’t win” should be taken down as an absolute. The directors branch simply made a mistake, and it can be rectified.

  33. Bryce Forestieri

    Was there ever a film that swept the guilds but then went on to win just a couple of minor Oscars? I’m sure even that’d still be different from this ARGO “phenomenon”. I’m still going with what I got. ARGO might win all the big guilds, LINCOLN is still winning at the very least

    Best Picture
    Best Director
    Best Actor
    Best Supporting Actor
    Best Adapted Screenplay

    But at this point predicting ARGO to win both Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay now is probably the safest choice if you’re betting money. Hell even Alan Arkin’s circus performance might win the Oscar for all we know.

    I’m sticking with LINCOLN, but if Emmannuelle Riva wins they can choose LES MIZ for all I care. They will not go to hell and I’ll be over the moon.

  34. Dear Affleck and Argo’s cast and crew,
    I just woke up and see this wonderful pic.
    It’s like a Sunday Morning Call full of justice…
    We’re together, marching to victory.
    Just because you are the best film nominated (and the second of the year, after The Master) and is directed for the Best Director of the year.
    And because you are about ideas, about history and about actions too.
    I am really proud of you.
    They tried hostage your freedom and your honor whit that coward and dirty snub for our captain Affleck for best director. They tried. But they can’t. ‘Cause the world needs people whit mind and heart. Cause we’re bigger. We’re heroes. We’re giants. This is the story of America. This is an American Story. This is a story about justice.
    Always whit you,
    Fabinho Flapp.

  35. Sasha, I don’t understand your take on Argo. A few months ago you were raving about it in your review and several other pieces, it was a ‘fucking great movie’ etc. and even though I know you consider Lincoln considerably better, how did the ‘fucking great movie’ is now suddenly only a ‘good’ one in your eyes ?

    For the record, I still don’t buy it, Argo will not win BP, Lincoln will…although it needs that SAG Ensemble now more than ever and then the DGA to seal the deal, but it is still the strongest on-paper Oscar contender, it doesn’t have to defy the odds to win unlike its competition :

    – on paper Argo can’t win without a BD-nod and even if it does which other category could it take ? Editing…MAYBE…so two Oscars including BP ? No…
    – on paper Silver Linings Playbook can’t win, its director has been overlooked by Bafta, HFPA, DGA and it failed to win the GG Best Picture OR the PGA, and I don’t think there are ANY crowdpleasers/comedy-musical contenders that could afford that and still win the Oscar BP
    – on paper Life of Pi can’t win without the support of THE most dominant Academy branch, well it might get closer if it wins the DGA and those guys do love Ang Lee, so who knows.

    Long story short : In my opinion there is a better chance at Life of Pi surprising in BP and maybe even BD (it WILL win a bunch of techies already and the DGA and subsequent Oscar BD IS a possibility) OR even Amour winning all 5 of its categories (I think it will take at least 3, Actress, Original Screenplay, Foreign Language Film), then Argo or Silver Linings Playbook going all the way and what should be also emphasized that voting hasn’t started, there is plenty of time for the inevitable backlash against both

  36. *how is the ‘fucking great movie’ now suddenly only a ‘good’ one in your eyes ?

  37. I have not always been a fan of the cheer leading going on here. How to train your dragon and Social Neteork stick out in my mind the most. But this was a great piece. There was Lincoln love but also a good overview of the race as is, well balanced more or less.

    Argo, I just don’t get it. It is the least offensive because it is the least challenging, I get that. That has worked in year’s past. But it seems to have so little going for it to boot. No concept pushing audiences out of their comfort zone (Artist), no actors holding court engaging the audience (king’s speech), no heart beyond measure to rock audiences to their core (Artist, king’s speech, Slumdog). I guess Hurt Locker lacked those things as well to a degree. (though renner and the raw energy seemed to at least make it stand out). What does Argo have? A catchphrase and a vendetta? A strange year to say the least.

  38. “Moulin Rouge!”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Apollo 13″ also won PGA without being nominated for best director – and how it ended at the Oscars?

  39. Lincoln is by far my least favorite of the front runners. Give me Life of Pi, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty anytime.

    I disagree with you, your “poor Ben Affleck” story has no legs, as Argo was already winning awards BEFORE the director snub from the Academy. And how many has Lincoln got of the major players, so far? Nada

    Argo is superior in every way. I like that you are passionate about Lincoln, and I still think it will – undeservingly so – win Picture / Director / Screenplay / Actor at the Oscars, but your bashing of other serious threats to its triumph seem like an attempt to put them down in favor of your darling favorite.

    Which was what you did in The Hurt Locker year.

    We get it. Its your blog. No one expects you to be unbiased, but please don’t go trashing Argo because you now feel its gonna take that gold statue from Kathleen Kennedy.

    T.

  40. Bryce Forestieri

    At tonight’s SAGs I’ll be happy with both Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones winning and that’s it. Robert De Niro is the only threat I see for TLJ just because he’s never won a SAG.

  41. “Cause we’re bigger. We’re heroes. We’re giants.”

    And, the Prosecution rests.

  42. Mohammed

    @Mecid. That’s a theory. The other being that they actualy thought that Argo is the better film.

    Lincoln is a film about a 2012 progressive man planted in 1865. It’s the choice Spielberg made. The real Lincoln was nastier than the character in the film. He would’ve been a more challenging person to like, but it would’ve given the film complexity that Spielberg avoids like plague.

    He should’ve learned a lesson from Haneke on how boldly one can deal with a film about the dark past of a nation. He didn’t.

    The only thing memorable from Lincoln in years from now will probably be because of DDL’s third Oscar.

  43. Bryce Forestieri

    If ARGO is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not an intellectual.

  44. The trick is to remember that the movies you love are not race horses, nor politicians, nor football teams but vivid collaborations of artists who give more than they get. The trick is to remember that a film not winning an Oscar doesn’t define that film’s greatness in any way, but merely takes a mirrored snapshot of who were were once and what captured our fickle hearts. The trick is not minding.

    A lesson I learned on March 23rd, 1998.

    Thankfully, this year is shaping up to be, maybe, a year I won’t be hurt.

  45. The post that Sasha did a few days ago analyzing the years in the 1930s and 1940s where there were 10 Best Pic nominees was telling.

    A movie like Casablanca can be the clear favorite, and have all the bells and whistles, but it still only won 3 Oscars. It won the most important awards but wasn’t the biggest winner of the night.

    I think years with more than 5 Best Pic nominees and the preferential ballot system are ripe for upsets and Picture-Director splits. I don’t think this year will be as spread out as the Brokeback Mountain-Crash-Geisha-Kong year, because Life of Pi will probably dominate the techs. But overall, the awards will be spread around this year and all this supposed love for Argo isn’t going to manifest itself in any more than 4 Oscars max. 2 or 3 is much more likely, even with a Best Picture win.

  46. I’m going to ignore all of my past Oscar prognostication techniques.

    To me, it just “feels” like a Lincoln win for Best Picture and Best Director.

    There may be just as much “it’s time to reward Spielberg again” sentiment as there is “poor boy Affleck” sentiment.

    And these thoughts are coming from someone who didn’t like the movie at all, as you guys well know by now.

    If I were voting? I think I’d want to try to skew everybody else’s choice as place “Amour” first, and “Lincoln” last on my preferential ballot.

  47. OT (I’ll join the debate later!)

    Chlotrudis Society has announced their nominations:

    http://screenonscreen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/chlotrudis-award-nominations.html

  48. Lol at the ‘nastier’ Lincoln. Good lord.

  49. AnthonyP

    If the only obstacle Argo has is historical stats, then I think it’s in a pretty good position.
    Obama overcame a historical stat. No black person had ever become president.
    As they say in sports, records are made to be broken.

  50. Thanks, Paddy – I’ll keep that image of Matthias Schoenaerts in the back of my mind all day.

  51. Mohammed, Haneke is nowhere as succesful as both artistically and commercially. You just don’t like Spielberg it doesn’t mean he must do everything as others want. He does films like he wants and it is his vision.
    Again it is subjective who is great or not. Coming to learning from Haneke actually Spielberg and Scorsese are two most infuental filmmakers woring today while Haneke isn’t even 2nd tier on this group.

  52. Sasha-

    It’s hard to know whether or not Lincoln was a close second in the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, and PGA. The “poor Ben Affleck” narrative is working for Argo right now, but there are several weeks the Academy has to think it over this year, and there could be another shift. With Affleck not in the Best Director race, I think that certainly opens it up for Spielberg – whether Lincoln wins the big prize it may get director, actor, possibly screenplay, and possibly some other techs, so not a bad showing for the film.

  53. Sasha,
    Just in case my original comments got lost in the original PGA topic. Best Director is a shitfest. It’s anyone’s game, and will be that way up until Oscar night (assuming, as I do and have argued before, that Affleck takes DGA). I suggest you campaign the shit out of who you want to win. BUT BEWARE––Spielberg can lose this race; the Academy does NOT hand out third Oscars lightly over unrecognized competition! FACT. If I were you, I’d resurrect your PASSION for Ang Lee, crying when you met him, your wonderful piece on Life Of Pi. Variety’s running a great cover on how Lee has pursued challenging material, how versatile he is and unparalleled. The Brokeback Mountain loss is still in recent memory…some sympathy vote may exist. I’d love to read another piece on him–he may be the best chance to win. Otherwise, when David O. Russell takes it, with HUGE support from the Actor’s Branch (and 7 acting nominations in his last 2 movies), I don’t want to hear how pissed off you are LOL….

  54. Chlotrudis nominations… they sure loved ‘Beasts’

    Best Movie
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Bullhead
    Monsieur Lazhar
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Tyrannosaur

    Best Director
    Was Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
    Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone)
    Hirokazu Koreeda (I Wish)
    Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz)
    Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead)
    Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

    Best Actor
    John Hawkes (The Sessions)
    Frank Langella (Robot & Frank)
    Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)
    Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur)
    Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead)
    Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone)

    Best Actress
    Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur)
    Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
    Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
    Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed)
    Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

    Best Supporting Actor
    Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
    Isaac Leyva (Any Day Now)
    Matthew McConaughey (Bernie)
    Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

    Best Supporting Actress
    Amy Adams (The Master)
    Moon Bloodgood (The Sessions)
    Rosemarie DeWitt (Your Sister’s Sister)
    Edith Scob (Holy Motors)
    Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

    Best Original Screenplay
    Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
    Derek Connolly (Safety Not Guaranteed)
    Christopher D. Ford (Robot & Frank)
    Hirokazu Koreeda (I Wish)
    Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz)

    Best Adapted Screenplay
    Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, based on the play by Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
    Tracy Letts, based on his play (Killer Joe)
    Ben Lewin, based on the article by Mark O’Brien (The Sessions)
    David O. Russell, based on the novel by Matthew Quick (Silver Linings Playbook)

    Best Cinematography
    Choi Sung Fai (Flying Swords of Dragon Gate)
    Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master)
    Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Gökhan Tiryaki (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia)
    Robert D. Yeoman (Moonrise Kingdom)

    Best Production Design
    Ricardo Alms (Keyhole)
    Alex DiGerlando (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Sarah Greenwood (Anna Karenina)
    Florian Sanson (Holy Motors)
    Adam Stockhausen (Moonrise Kingdom)

    Best Ensemble Cast
    Killer Joe
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    A Royal Affair
    Silver Linings Playbook

    Best Documentary
    The Central Park Five
    Detropia
    First Position
    How to Survive a Plague
    The Queen of Versailles

    Buried Treasure
    Alps
    Beauty is Embarrassing
    Breathing
    Oslo, August 31st
    A Simple Life
    Sound of Noise

  55. Who cares about Karger and his picks?

    He has been wrong many times before.

    Just look at his picks last year….

  56. Gustavo Cruz

    This is a very well written article but I disagree with it. To me, Lincoln is nowhere near the best movie of the bunch. I liked Amour, Beasts, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty better. To say it’s clear that this is the best movie is a bit of a mistake. It’s not even DDL’s best performance. I’m not rooting for Argo because I don’t believe Spielberg or O. Russell are going to win Director unless their movies win picture, so that will make it possible for Haneke to win, pulling off a Polanski type of win (btw how come you mention Benh Zeitlin and Ang Lee and completely forget Haneke, who’s by far the most talented of the bunch… didn’t expect xenophobia from you, Sasha – yes I know Ang Lee is not American, but he’s been doing American films for a long time)

  57. The J Viewer

    Congratulations to Argo.

    And thanks for the thoughts on the entire scenario so far and, as usual, a good read, Sasha. I’m wondering if Lee or Affleck (or Ms. Bigelow for that matter) takes the DGA win then what should be your BP and BD Oscars prediction, and what should be Spielberg’s chance for BD Oscar then?

    I read Wells’ blog regularly following his latest podcast session co-hosted with you four weeks ago. Not sure if he’s serious […] but his disfavor towards Lincoln and/or the maestro is also this year’s another intrigue in my book. . . . : )

  58. AnthonyP

    Love the “you’re not an intellectual” insult you try to throw around, Bryce.
    That clench your fists and stomp your foot response shows who is short of being an intellectual.

  59. SallyinChicago

    I never felt that Argo was a GREAT movie, but a good movie. It just seems like I’ve seen this movie before (can’t think of the title, though) and it’s been done before. Escape from a foreign country…Maybe Midnight Express, I can’t put my finger on it….that being stated, I’m still pulling for the little movie that could BOTSW. The awards this year are all over the place and everyone is winning a little bit of everything. But isn’t it strange that Lincoln is not getting the love everyone thought it would?

    The biggest disappointment for me is that Alan Arkin has taken a seat at the Best Supporting table….TOTALLY UNFAIR…that seat should be occupied by Dwight Henry or John Goodman, or Leonardo Dicaprio (what did he do against the Academy to deserve such disrespect?) or that guy in the stairwell of Flight….Arkin’s nomination is a total fail for me and the voting members have lost my respect for “sound decisions”.

  60. And what if SAG will go to Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway and ARGO for best ensemble (or LES MISERABLES, or SLP)? :P I’d say it would kill “Lincoln” totally! It’s not impossible, IMO.

  61. Robert A.

    “Argo, I just don’t get it. It is the least offensive because it is the least challenging, I get that.’

    I can see this is becoming one of the memes for explaining an Argo victory. I don’t really buy it, though. There was a lot I admired about Lincoln, for example, but I don’t find Lincoln any more “challenging” than Argo.

    The PGA win for Argo is the first really strong indicator we have that Argo can go all the way. PGA uses the same preferential balloting system as the Oscars. I understand the two voting pools are different, but this is concrete evidence that Argo is very competitive in preferential/consensus balloting. Normally the DGA winner is the biggest clue we have to the eventual Oscar winner, but since PGA converted to the preferential ballot, I think PGA results are at least as important if not more important than DGA.

    I agree that it would be weird if Argo ended up winning BP with no other award. But I feel relatively confident, at this point, that it will win best editing. That still seems like a skimpy number of wins for a BP winner, but it’s not unprecedented. The Greatest Show on Earth won BP with only one other win, best story. Rebecca (a preferential ballot year, by the way) won BP while only winning best cinematography/black and white. And it’s possible (hold on to your hats, AD) that Argo wins adapted screenplay over Lincoln. I’m still not quite ballsy enough (yet) to predict that, but I think it’s a possibility. (Similar to Fletcher winning for Precious over “sure thing” Reitman for Up In the Air). If Argo did win screenplay, it would have the same wins as Crash.

    I’d feel pretty good with an Argo BP win. It’s not my favorite of the nominees, but my favorite winning doesn’t usually happen. And I’m one of the “non-intellectuals” that prefers Argo to Lincoln.

  62. “If ARGO is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not an intellectual.”

    Thanks Bryce for your syllogism, or should I say sillygism, may I add a couple:

    If Amour is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it is the best film of 2012 then you are not a pigeon lover.

    If Beast of the southern wild is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it is the best film of 2012 then you are not an English teacher.

    If Lincoln is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not incline to headaches.

    If Silver Linings Playbook is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not a dancer.

    If Zero Dark Thirty is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not a Pythagorean.

    If Les Miserables is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not gay.

    If Life of Pi is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not a afraid to be eaten by a tiger.

    If Django Unchained is your favorite movie of 2012 and you also manage to think it’s the best film of 2012 then you are not a vegetarian.

  63. - on paper Argo can’t win without a BD-nod and even if it does which other category could it take ? Editing…MAYBE…so two Oscars including BP ? No…
    – on paper Silver Linings Playbook can’t win, its director has been overlooked by Bafta, HFPA, DGA and it failed to win the GG Best Picture OR the PGA, and I don’t think there are ANY crowdpleasers/comedy-musical contenders that could afford that and still win the Oscar BP
    – on paper Life of Pi can’t win without the support of THE most dominant Academy branch, well it might get closer if it wins the DGA and those guys do love Ang Lee, so who knows.

    So what you are saying, phantom, is that nothing can win. Thank you for sharing!

    Argo always was the frontrunner. This just confirmed it.

    Personally, I would love to see Zero Dark Thirty win. Just an incredible movie.

    As for Best Picture, it is a nine-way race. Anything could happen.

  64. AnthonyP

    Historical stats are made to be broken. The difference this time is that Affleck wasn’t voted for director because of timing. If he was nominated for Director, than
    A) Lincoln would win BP and Dir because the pity vote for Ben wouldn’t have been there. Or..

    B) Argo wins BP and Dir without any debate about historical trends

    Even Lincoln himself once said “as our case is new, so must we think anew, and act anew”.

    This is a new unique situation the Oscars are in this time. If you want to win that Oscar pool, then vote with your heads… Argo for BP.

  65. Gah, I would love to see Zero Dark Thirty win too. And I agree–never in all my years following Oscar (since Titanic in 1997), I have never seen a film start so HUGE, dominating the critics awards, and then die in such dramatic fashion as ZDT this year. It’s a killer film AND Kathryn Bigelow is a killer director–one of the best in the game.

    mecid: Finally you’ve got it exactly right! The industry simply does not feel the need to reward Spielberg. He’s won before, and the goodwill AT THIS MOMENT is not with him—regardless of how good Lincoln is. Unfortunate, perhaps, but that is the nature of the Academy Awards. Always has been for most of its history. Also–you may be right about Daniel Day-Lewis. Though unlikely, he IS beatable.

  66. Bryce Forestieri

    Ok I’m gonna have to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN again, and give it another chance. I mean I did think it was great film and made it in my top 10 that year, but I didn’t think it was a masterpiece or as “groundbreaking” as most. How does it compare to SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (masterpiece) or let’s say THE BOYS IN THE BAND (great film I really really like)?

  67. Pierre de Plume

    I want to remind everybody that it’s improbable for a movie to win just Best Picture.

    Greg (and phantom) make good points. As someone who said months ago that a Lincoln/Spielberg win was inevitable, my confidence surely has been shaken in recent weeks. However, this awards season has been so skewed that we mustn’t dismiss Lincoln’s chances.

    First, the nominations calendar this year was goofy – with the various awards bodies having less opportunities to look over one another’s shoulders for guidance. Surely that has a chaotic effect. Although Lincoln came out of the gate in good shape, and with a great public narrative going for it, the fact that it was released earlier in the season allowed room for the competition — especially competition with the Weinstein Co. behind it.

    Next, Spielberg isn’t an underdog — people aren’t jumping at the chance to award him again. This allows room for the competition. It may be that Affleck’s current underdog status and narrative may have the effect of coming around — like a boomerang — and provide voters with enough empathy to take another look at Spielberg and his film.

    There’s a quite a lapse of time between tonight’s SAGs and the Oscars for sentiment to shift. When Academy voters finally sit down to make their choices, they’ll see that their choices to justify an Argo win are rather limited. I suspect that no one film will dominate the awards this year unless it’s technically. And let’s not forget, the years The King’s Speech and The Artist won, The Social Network and Hugo took away a good chunk of gold.

    SAG and then WGA will be indicative. If there is a pic/director split, the most likely seems to be Argo/Haneke (or Lee). At least for today, though, I think the more likely outcome remains to be Lincoln/Spielberg.

  68. John Oliver

    No one is talking about a Denzel Washington win-it’s all about DDL. What about a shocker in the best actor category!

  69. “The biggest disappointment for me is that Alan Arkin has taken a seat at the Best Supporting table….TOTALLY UNFAIR…that seat should be occupied by Dwight Henry or John Goodman, or Leonardo Dicaprio (what did he do against the Academy to deserve such disrespect?) or that guy in the stairwell of Flight….Arkin’s nomination is a total fail….”

    So TOTALLY in agreement. Well stated.

  70. Excellent piece, Sasha.
    Argo would fit nicely into the type of movie the Academy has been honouring of late – an important subject matter and it’s about Hollywood (and a rather more substantial film than The Artist).

  71. Sasha, you have made a brilliant recap of this year´s race. But I miss something extremely important you didn´t mention. What´s movies about? I mean, in which means cinema differs from other forms of artistic expression? It´s not literature, theatre, dance etc. That´s the central point in my opinion: maybe in a skewed way, Argo, a perfect piece of the pure magic of cinema (with all the possibilities and specificities that language has), is being praised with major awards. Last year Hugo was that wonderful piece of movie. But, sorry, Lincoln isn´t that much. I feel people make a great confusion when defending Lincoln as a movie masterpiece when they´re really defending the ideas, historical facts and heroes idealized shown in a very competent way for the ever competent Spielberg. Lincoln for sure is good, but it´s definitely not ET, or Schindler´s List.

    From the very beginning I´ve been an admirer of Affleck as a director and I have to say I´m very pleased to see the engines of the industry rewarding his Argo. And that´s what all those awards are about: strengthening the industry. And the industry tries always to combine the economic and the artistic views. Sometimes awards hang for the first, sometimes for the latter. But if Argo wins the Academy Award as best picture I feel that balance will be really fairer than most of the Oscar´s history.

  72. As for the comment that Amour is a hate it or love it type of movie, I think it’s more fair to say it’s a watched it or hasn’t watched it type of movie. I haven’t heard anyone in the blogosphere hating it, though some may be indifferent to it. But it’s definitely not a factor in Best Picture. But I suppose if Lincoln won’t win Best Director, I’d be happy if Haneke could take Best Director. I suppose he is responsible for one of only two times in my life where I literally jumped out of my seat while watching something when I saw Cache a few years ago (the other was actually the Mad Men episode Guy Walks into the Advertising Agency). But I suppose it’s really a fight between Ang Lee and Spielberg, who are both fine directors.

  73. comedywontwin

    People on here are so persistant, even after Argo swept all big awards so far, they keep saying it might lose the DGA or Oscar, that’s whishfull thinking, you predict with your heart not with your brain.
    Argo has never been my fav. movie of the year, but after Golden Globe win and ZD30 backlash, I just know Argo will sweep everything….
    There is no such a thing what if lose DGA or SAG, it’s all about Argo now, no time left for losing momentum or anything, just digest it and deal with it. Oh, buy the way SAG winner wouldn’t impact the race, it’s for ensemble only, however I see DGA goes to Argo easily.

    End of story: Argo

  74. edkargir

    HOllywood had always been the worst judge of their own industry. Lincoln is my fifth choice of the nine films and Argo my sixth choice. BEASTS Of the Southern wild was my favorite film of the year by far I know it’s chances of winning any award is slim. I do not thing the PGA or DGA will be a factor this year and people will

  75. Bob Burns

    lovely piece.

    it’s striking how Spielberg supports film awards, showing up time after time, applauding the accomplishments of the industry, even when he does not get his due. Not that I pity the man in any way, but in that position, I would be much more like Peter Jackson (ya cain’t make me come!)

    one sad thing I have learned this year is the general ignorance of the professionals who write about films – and how very much the general narrative is shaped by post-screening Q & A’s.

    I would have awarded Lincoln, but Perks of Being a Wallflower was my favorite.

  76. Bob Burns

    oh, and one other thing (again)….

    never underestimate Warner.

  77. Glenn UK

    I was thinking the same as “Someone”! I think tonight at the SAG see’s the potential for DDL to lose best actor ….. step up Hugh Jackman.

    Actor – Jackman
    Actress – Lawrence
    S Actor – Robert DeNiro
    S Actress – Hathaway
    Ensemble – Les Mis (alt SLP)

  78. The problem with stats..

    http://xkcd.com/1122/

    To be honest I find the poor ben Affleck thing ridiculous. Argo didn’t win because of a snun, it won because of preferential ballots. It’s the sold number 2 or 3 choice for everyone and therefore beats out divisive films. (whether you like it or not, lincoln divides people)

    Also I think that it’s ridiculous to call Ben Affleck and Katherine Bigelow not getting oscar nods a snub. What’s constantly being left out in analysis this year is just how many amazing films there were, each of which would have beaten the artist hands down last year (for example). when there are eight or nine worthy directors vying for five spots statistical randomness will mean people will be left behind.

    So to say that you can’t win best picture without a directing nod is wrong, it’s not a cause and affect relationship. what is true is that few films have enough support for a best picture win without their director having enough support to get a director nom.

    But remember best picture is preferential, best director isn’t. Because there was so much competition Ben Affleck didn’t get high enough in everyones top five to get in. But it’s a safe bet that with a preferential balloted best director nomination he would have, everybody likes him. Ben Affleck has enough support as a director for his film to win, just not to get nominated for director.

    So I don’t think Argo has the weight of history to beat at all, I think it’s a pretty good bet for best picture. I don’t agree it SHOULD win, but I have a feeling it might!

    My 2c

  79. Whatever wins at least this has been a great year for films, much better than last year. I love most of the movies bar Les Miserables. However, the one movie that stood out to me the most was Zero Dark Thirty. This wasn’t necessarily the movie I “liked” the most but in terms of achievement I felt it was the best. Any Oscar ceremony that does not have ZDT as the best film of 2012 is wrong in my eyes.

  80. So now, SLP’s only competition is a film without a nominated director? Excuse me while I LOL.

  81. Great, GREAT piece, Sasha. One of your best ever! Explaining this rollercaster year of Oscarwatching. Of course, that’s what’s so exciting about it = IT KEEPS CHANGING! Never seen a year like this.So volatile, and I venture to say that it very well could change AGAIN! Esp. if the SAGS tonight go the way the poster above ^ named “Someone”suggests.

    It COULD be “Les Mis” and Hugh Jackman as well as Anne Hathaway…

    And now poor Jennifer Lawrence has pneumonia…but she’s going to the SAGs tonight ANYway. Elizabeth Taylor, who J.Law reminds me of, a young Elizabeth Taylor won her first Oscar when she, too, got pneumonia and nearly died! Yes! It’s true!

    But if J.Law can make it to the ceremonies tonight, she’s not as sick with it as the young Liz was. She had that famous tracheotomy(sp?)that left a scar on her throat.

    “Argo” could win Screenplay. It could win Editing. It has the same director as ZDT, BTW. Heck, even Arkin could win. And so could Hugh Jackman.

    What if it’s a “Les Miz” night tonight at the SAGs? I keep asking myself that question…

    Yes, I keep get a “Colored Purple” vibe from all this. 11 nominations for a Spielberg film, and NO WINS at all. Could happen again.

    If they don’t want to give Steven Spielberg a third Oscar or Harvey Weinstein a three-peat are they going to also think twice aboutmaking it a three for DDL?

  82. m1

    What I am saying is that in my opinion Lincoln will win AND Argo and Silver Linings Playbook aren’t stronger BP-threats than Life of Pi and Amour. My two cents.

    Life of Pi could win a bunch of techies, 5 is definitely doable and Amour could win 3 big ones (Actress, Original Screenplay, Foreign Language Film), so either could add BP to their victories more easily than Argo or Silver Linings Playbook, neither is a frontrunner in ANY category, and even if their strongest bets (Argo’s Editing, Playbook’s Leading Lady) win in the end, that still leaves them with only one Oscar and the additional BP-victory…and I don’t see that happening, both need to pull off a few big surprises (2-3 SAG awards for SLP, DGA/WGA shockers for Argo) to make up for their remarkably blemished track records and emerge as the convincing BP-players a lot of people already consider them to be.

  83. A BIG OOOOPS! That should have said “Argo has the same FILM EDITOR as ZDT” My apologies.

  84. I seriously don’t understand all the hate for SLP at this site. It is well directed, has great/funny dialogue and has great acting. And if it wins the WGA (over Lincoln), it really can win Best Picture. Actors love it. It got editing and directing nominations (which is a sign of other branches backing it).

    Another movie everyone is counting out is Life of Pi. Ang Lee’s previous Oscar movie was the victim of THE biggest crime of Oscars by losing to that horrendous film called Crash. They may feel like they should redeem themselves. It could win DGA and then BAFTAs and then it could take Best Picture.

  85. unlikely hood

    At this point, anyone making ironclad predictions is just groping in the dark, like Maya and Dan in the first hour of zdt.

    Anyone seen A Night to Remember (1958)? You know, the good Titanic movie?

    At the end of the picture you’ve got this seaman on one of the lifeboats summing up the whole movie/incident: “We were so sure. We’ll never be that sure again.” The movie implies that the sinking of Titanic removed the veil of confidence from Western society.

    Exactly 100 years later, a veil has come off the Oscar race. No one around here should be so sure. Imagine some of you next year confidently saying OH SUCH AND SUCH WILL DEFINITELY HAPPEN. Riiiiiiiiight. If we’ve learned anything from this year, we’ve learned we don’t know that anymore.

    But go ahead: keep striking poses.

  86. filmboymichael

    for all those people who are poo pooing argo need to be reminded that it is also the best reviewed film not only of the 9 best pic nominees, but also the year.

    I also think, as a Torontonian, that there is far too much weight is given to the TIFF people’s choice awards. Yes, I know that it has been an indicator of the past, but in recent years, the people’s choice award usually goes to one of the bigger movies to debut at the festival. Generally speaking, those bigger movies tend to get more screenings than others and therefore end up with more people’s choice votes than any other movie. That’s why SLP won, King’s Speech, Precious, etc….

  87. Steve 50,

    Did you like my passionate love letter to Affleck and Argo’s Cast and Crew?
    Yes, I can be very passionate too. :)

    m1,

    “Argo always was the frontrunner”.
    Finally someone said something so obvious.
    Great words, guy.
    Finally…

  88. I liked Argo. Thought it was a good film and viewed it three times. It has no business winning Best Picture though. Or any award this year. And my reasoning is simple: there are just better films.

    For the past few years, the Academy has chosen wisely for the most part. I didn’t think King’s Speech was Best Pic material, but that sometimes happens. And I didn’t think The Artist should have won last year, but I applaud the balls it took to award it so lavishly. And most of the nominations this year were inspired. However, the Academy will be taking a step backwards if it awards Argo in my opinion. It just plainly shows the politics, campaigning, and marketing of “stars” if it wins.

  89. unliked hood,

    Great words too.
    A crazy year like that (in the end IT ISN’T A CRAZY YEAR; ACADEMY CHOICES WAS) show us an old true: Nobody knows anything!

  90. I’m really happy for Ben Affleck. Before the Oscar nominations came out I started to think he was going to win everything especially Best Director. Maybe we all over-reacted to the BD snub. ARGO isn’t one of my favorite films of the year but there were so many quality films that they can’t all be. I’m going to ignore the Best Picture race I think because that most likely will upset me unless SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK wins. Of the nominees, DJANGO UNCHAINED is my favorite but it apparently has no shot. I would also be happy for a BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD win. But that’s just as unlikely I guess. If I could take out LINCOLN, LIPE OF PI, LES MISERABLES, and ZERO DARK THIRTY I could easily replace them with films that also aren’t my favorites of the year but are better films, imo. Stuff like THE IMPOSSIBLE, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, KILLER JOE and FLIGHT would be better nominees, imo. And possibly more popular with normal folks. There are more that are great but then I’d have to replace something else and the other films are deserving, imo.

    So I’ll concentrate on the other categories. If Spielberg or Lee won Best Director I’d be happy for them, because they’re masters. They deserve loads of Oscars even if I don’t like their films this year, they’ll never catch up to as many as they should have had already.

    And I’m going to stay away from the negative people who are making what should be a really fun Oscar season something to be really angry and bitter about. I don’t feel like fighting. We should be celebrating. That’s what I’m going to do from now on. I do believe 2012 was one of the best movie years ever. Congratulations, Hollywood. You done good. :)

  91. Jerry Grant

    “Argo” can totally win Best Picture. But it could also easily be like “Apollo 13″. When I finished watching “Argo,” I said to myself that the movie it reminded me of most was “Apollo 13″:
    -amazing true story in American history
    -extremely intense finish
    -good acting
    -you want to cheer
    -made by a young actor-turned director.

    Now that it’s a front-runner for BP w/o a BD nomination, the similarities are even closer.

    I still say: “Lincoln” wins SAG, and wins Best Picture at the Oscars. (hope hope)
    (DGA and Best Director are not necessarily Spielberg’s.)

  92. Put statistics in dustbin and start building momentum index

  93. Terometer

    “Films about ideas don’t win film awards because awards don’t just hand a gold statue over to filmmakers; they reward our collective enthusiasm at a fixed point in time.”

    This is what losers sound like. Where is that 14 noms arrogance? Where is that everybody-is-talking-about-it illusion? so now it’s a movie about ideas! what’s next?

  94. I’d be fine with Argo taking the big prize, more than some other films within the category. Hopefully the Academy won’t give it to Silver Linings as the little movie that could because it ain’t that little!!!

    Though I must say Tiffany is my new favorite low self-esteem, needy, lying, manipulating, hypocritical(We’re not liars like they are Pat, You’re not being a stand up guy! I fulfilled my promise) female character ever.

  95. I get the impression that Argo is the best of what’s left after the more divisive films get tattered in the storm.

  96. marlonbrando020

    “because it ain’t that little!!!”

    Neither was Lincoln…

  97. Even Jeff Wells thinks it’s Argo now.

  98. Roger Ebert predicted Argo would win the Oscar months ago the moment he saw it at a festival screening.

  99. Pierre de Plume

    I keep asking myself, if Argo were to win best picture what else would it get? Seems to me the most likely would be that plus writing and editing: 3 total. Is that enough? When Driving Miss Daisy won it took 4 Oscars (pic/actress/writing/makeup), and when Chariots of Fire won it also took 4 (pic/writing/score/costume). Both films were nominated for editing but didn’t win.

    Argo is missing nominations in 2 key branches: directors and actors. To me that’s significant. How likely is it that it could pull off a win with a total of 3 Oscars? (I don’t see Arkin and the sound categories to be likelihoods).

    I still think that WGA and DGA will provide clues, and maybe SAG. As unlikely hood and others have implied, making strong predictions at this point is risky business.

  100. Yes yes you love Lincoln and it’s holier than thou we get it Sasha. Stop backpedaling. You were all over it when Lincoln got the most noms and now that it’s losing momentum you’re saying that it’s the kind of film that doesn’t win awards. Also box office doesn’t a great film make. Nor do all people who’ve seen it count it as the best.

    If Lincoln had bombed like Hugo did (and I love Hugo), you would’ve said that box office doesn’t matter but since it’s number 1 right now you’re using it as the main arguing point. It’s ridiculous.

  101. Henry Z.

    “Argo may go on to win the DGA. It might even win the SAG ensemble tonight. It might win all of the guilds, even the Writers Guild award. But to win Best Picture is still has to:”

    -Become the first film in all PGA/Oscar history to win without a director’s nomination.
    -The second film in Oscar history to win with the 4th most nominations
    -The second in 65 years of Oscar/DGA history to win Best Picture without a director nomination (the fourth in 85 years of Oscar history)”

    I don’t think the second point is as challenging as the other two – because, simply, there have been other films that won with very few nominations such as “Annie Hall” and “The Departed” which both had the fourth most nominations. You only counted “Chariots of Fire” – but if “Argo” won it would become the fourth film I believe, unless there’s another one missing.

  102. I think tonight the ensemble SAG is going to go to either “Silver Linings Playbook” or “Lincoln” (both of them them most deserving ones of this award IMO). If “Lincoln” wins the SAG tonight… maybe that would mean “Lincoln” is still in race. But I will be happy too if SLP wins it.

  103. Roger Ebert called Argo way back in September.

  104. Jerry Grant

    Lincoln deserves more awards than it’s gotten. Even in such a strong year. Plain and simple.

  105. I see Argo winning BP at the Oscars but tonight’s SAG winner will be Silver Linings Playbook, as that film is clearly an ensemble piece (4 Oscar acting nominations proves it). Lincoln, while extremely well acted, was more of a DDL film (and he was great in it of course).

  106. great article, sasha. very analitical!
    nevertheless… well, i just can’t get used to the idea of argo-best-pic. but it is still better than the artist.

  107. Robert A.

    “Seems to me the most likely would be that plus writing and editing: 3 total. Is that enough?”

    Crash won with three total, and for those very same ones–editing, screenplay, BP.

    There are a few examples of a movie winning best picture with only two wins, BP and one other prize, although admittedly those were in the 1940s and 1950s.

    My point is that it’s uncommon for a movie to win BP with only one or two other wins, but it’s not unprecedented.

  108. Roger Ebert called Argo way back in September.

    Roger Ebert has a habit of calling things a few months too early. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s not.

    I still feel like this race can turn on a dime at any moment from here in. DGA might pick Steven Spielberg and Lincoln could regain the lead. Argo needs to keep winning in order to keep its lead, because with Oscar Director nominations, Lincoln and maybe even Silver Linings Playbook or Life of Pi are the automatic favourites. And, since Ben Affleck won’t win Director at the Oscars, whichever film does will be in a strong position to win Picture as well. I think that’s most likely to be Lincoln (it could be Amour, but Best Picture is the only award which I think it can’t win), so with a DGA win, it’s in the lead for me.

  109. Great article!

    By the way, am I the only one who thinks Michael Haneke is totally winning Best Director. Zeitlin & Russell are out. Lee & Spielberg will cancel each other out. And my precious Haneke will win a la Polanski. I know Polanski got more nominations in the previous ceremonies but who cares, Haneke is overdue for an Oscar after a great career that included; Cache, Funny Games, The piano Teacher, Thw White Ribbon and now his best film Amour.

  110. As I recall, the “frontrunner” status went like this:

    Argo (Telluride) > SLP (TIFF) > Argo (box office) >

    Lincoln (it gradually built with festivals and then box office solidified its status) > Les Mis (special screenings for a hot second) > Lincoln > ZD30 (critic awards for a hot second, but it was like “blink and you missed it”) > Lincoln >

    Argo

    There were nuances, of course, but, generally speaking, it seemed to go:

    Argo > Lincoln > Argo

    Considering all that Argo endured during the time it wasn’t the frontrunner, it’s going to take a lot of momentum to knock it off its perch. And, if Affleck wins DGA …

    I predict Argo for BP, Editing, Sound Editing

    Possibly Score

    Dark Horse for Screenplay (Lincoln could still pull a The Pianist)

  111. Lincoln should win the DGA in order to stay in the competition.

    @efe- I agree with you. Best Director win for Haneke has become very much possible especially after Lincoln lost the PGA. It seems Spielberg will lose the DGA too and he has no Bafta nod either so if Haneke pulls a Bafta win for either screenplay or directing then he would become the favorite going through oscar night.

  112. Bball_Jake

    It sucks that Argo is going on to win Best Picture because its definitely not the best of the nominees. They need to give best picture and best director to Silver Linings Playbook and David O. Russel, or Lincoln and Steven Spielberg. Argo just doesn’t deserve it!

  113. eclipse22

    ok i’ve now seen ARGO and woww what an experience, i was literally buzzing the entire time from an adrenaline high,the tension was incredibly palpable and never lagged! i read here someone said it has an happy ending but watching the movie you couldnt tell that and had they fail i might be crying now instead of feeling keyed up!
    now i can honestly say POOR BEN AFFLECK he was truly snubbed his name should have been in the conversation for best director! and should ARGO win best pic it won’t be nowhere near torture to live with that outcome!

    my fav is still miserables though but out of the 3 i’ve seen so far

    1/les miserables 2/argo 3/silver linings playbook

    tonight i’ll watch lincoln!

    ps: i had alan arkin confused with some other actor dunno why but i can see why he’s nominated as best supporting actor , even though in that race i still like robert de niro better so far

  114. I’m half-joking here, but, Sasha you should start championing “Argo”; therefore, it won’t win!

    It seems every year the film we love/admire the most (Brokeback; Social; Hugo) loses out to the solid-but-not-worthy winner.

    I hear you on “Lincoln” I still haven’t been able to figure out why it’s not a slam-dunk at this point. By any objective measure it deserves the SAG — Sally Field, JAMES SPADER, Strathairn, Gloria Rueben. I mean, c’mon already.

    Maybe Spielberg takes the DGA and the tides will turn, but this “Argo” love is baffling.

  115. I believe Ebert’s most famous Oscar call was championing the little movie that could, Chariots of Fire. One of my personal favorite films regardless of Oscar pedigree, warts and all.

    “ ‘Argo, I just don’t get it. It is the least offensive because it is the least challenging, I get that.’
    I can see this is becoming one of the memes for explaining an Argo victory. I don’t really buy it, though. There was a lot I admired about Lincoln, for example, but I don’t find Lincoln any more “challenging” than Argo.”

    The original quote was mine. The secondary quote was not. I don’t care what your opinions on Argo or Lincoln, love, hate, indifferent, bored, whatever. I don’t think there is a question to which is more challenging. Argo is the definition of slick Hollywood production that goes down easily. It is impossible to be bored by it on first viewing. It doesn’t demand anything of the audience, it simply gives a taut thriller. And that is it’s right. The aforementioned Chariots of Fire is in the same category on that score, demanding little, giving back instead. There are great movies, enjoyable movies, classic movies that fit into that category. Lincoln is not in that category. It demands attention. Kushner’s script demands attention. That acting demands attention. You may not like what you get out of it when you pay attention, but it isn’t a film that simply one watches for enjoyment. We are not discussing Kubrick, but these two films are not alike to me. The difference between the two for me would be akin to pointing out the difference between a color film and a b/w film. It is simply what it is.

  116. i don’t get it either. i guess they just don’t want to reward spielberg. this “poor ben affleck” thing is ridiculous. i mean, come ON. the guy is a pretty boy millionaire with everything you could want in the world. he’ll be back, of course he will. and they all feel sorry for him now? that’s such bullshit. that’s worse than them just not “liking” social network and not being able to find a better consensus choice than the artist last year. there have been plenty of snubs over the years, and none of them were pitied so that their film won BP because of it. i mean, driving miss daisy’s win was not BECAUSE bruce beresford was snubbed. this is so stupid

  117. Victor Barreto

    “Argo may go on to win the DGA. It might even win the SAG ensemble tonight. It might win all of the guilds, even the Writers Guild award. But to win Best Picture is still has to:
    The second film in Oscar history to win with the 4th most nominations”

    I’m sorry if someone already pointed this out, but the information is incorrect. I thought Annie Hall was the only other case, but Chariots of Fire also won with the same conditions. Not sure if there were more, probably yes.

  118. Christian H

    there is a thought on my mind which seems to be impossible a few weeks ago but it’s still growing and now i’m almost sure. Argo could be the first BP Winner since Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935 which wins nothing but BP.

  119. Houstonrufus

    The race is suddenly becoming very predictable. I think I may skip the SAGs tonight.

    I think the poor Ben Affleck story is the kind of narrative that can only appeal to a bunch of millionaire movie makers and actors–it’s downright silly. I’m not sure why it’s so compelling but it seems to be what is moving this. Argo is a very good movie, well crafted and entertaining, but it’s such an easy sell. Not exactly moving or challenging or inspiring or important, not that it needs to be. I just find it a rather dull winner. But it is what it is.

    I may just check out at this point and focus on the movies I love, which is I guess what I should be doing anyway.

  120. Goodvibe61

    I feel your frustration Sasha. Things are falling the way they usually do, meaning the films I love best and feel most passionate about do not win. And I’m left shaking my head, trying to make sense of things.

    I’m left scratching my head over Argo being selected as the film the PGA wants to represent the very finest work of cinematic art in 2012. In retrospect, the movie being relatively harmless seems to be working in its favor. Add the “snub” of Affleck, and checking the Argo box has become the emotional response of the moment apparently.

    The idea of it being a superior film to Lincoln, or Zero Dark Thirty, I don’t see how that idea starts percolating, let alone gathers this kind of steam. As we’ve seen in recent years, these Academy and Guild Members clearly favor the road more travelled; the story with the simple ending, the story that requires less introspection and less moral nuance.

    I’ve realized in the past few years now, that my response to a film, be it on an emotional or intellectual level, does not equate with a consensus award winner. Thus, this time around, when I saw Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, and Django, my initial reaction was, “this movie cannot win. There will be something more crowd pleasing, something with a happier ending, something that asks fewer complicated moral questions, than this”.

    I think that people don’t want to contemplate an issue as complicated as getting an Amendment passed, which will result in one of our greatest thinkers getting shot in the head. And they definitely don’t want to reward the most successful director working today, you just know they’re thinking “Spielberg doesn’t need this and I’m not giving him even more success”. They don’t want to visit the grey area of the hunt for one of mankind’s most evil monsters, and all the moral ambiguities that lie underneath it, and they definitely don’t want to reward Bigelow again so soon. Nor do they want to contemplate a story that uses difficult language, even if that language is a accurate reflection of the setting of a difficult story, a story that juxtaposes tone and emotion in an unsettling and unique way. Nor do they want to give more success to a genius like Tarantino, who is so highly regarded everywhere as a brilliant filmmaker.

    It’s definitely a popularity contest in addition to everything else.

    It’s so much easier to look to an Argo or a Silver Linings Playbook. At least it’s not SLP, a film I found so unconvincing and false that I was shaking my head by the final 30 minutes. The biggest joke of the season might be tonight if that ensemble wins the SAG. That will truly be a head scratcher.

  121. “least sentimental route”? Amour, ZeroDark30, yes. Lincoln, no. I would lump the former with Social Network as being non sentimental and great movies that may be hard to embrace as best pic winners. However, the problem w/ Lincoln is in its sloppy ending where it did get too sentimental for its own self-important good.

  122. daveinprogress

    “What Argo was missing was an “Oscar story.” Well, that story was delivered by the stork when Oscar nominations were announced.”

    My favourite line from this piece Sasha.

    It’s all about narratives and spin and marketing. The history of Oscars is riddled with favouritisms, sentiment, gossip and scandal. Even back in the beginning it was never a never pure process – even if they thought and hoped it was. But the age of multi media platforms and the spin doctors have altered this process indelibly, so even with the gargantuan egos of the 6000 AMPAS members, they lose sight of what is the Oscar narrative – and are like sheep with their being influenced by the campaigns and the perception of what is great and ‘consensus’. Slumdog, TKS, The Artist….

    That said, i’m still sticking with Spielberg/Lincoln as the big 2. AMPAS may be dazzled by the various marketing ploys, but they did NOT nominate Argo in Director, and whether it was a near miss for Affleck – he, and Bigelow and Tarantino and Hooper were all overlooked. Haneke may be Europe’s most acclaimed filmmaker, but AMPAS didn’t have to give his film such big big love. Ditto wunderkind Zetlin – Picture and Actress and Director!
    BAFTA certainly went gaga over Argo – giving Affleck Best Actor nod!!!! AMPAS not. This says something about Academy support for Argo. I can’t see membership feeling sorry enough for that shrinking violet Mr Affleck and that unheralded chap Clooney to right THEIR ‘wrong’ in overlooking him in the Director’s Branch. Yes, preferential voting may favour a film like Argo – but 3 years ago many on this site predicted that The Hurt Locker – a film that handled low box office and a smear campaign, and the stupid scandal of one of its producers being struck off the invite, could not survive the preferential ballot – and it did!

    I guess I want to use a mix of stats, history but gut instinct and feeling when trying to do what eveybody else is doing on this site – getting into the collective minds of 6000 people: The Academy that has some antiquated folk, some young and cluey. It literally has all types! Predicting is an impossible task, but that is the fun of it. That’s why i do it – that’s why i come to this fab site to join the circus and pantomime and play along.

    There’s still some ‘fat ladies’ and ‘fat fellas’ to sing this year, before it is a done deal. Until Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise or Tom Bullock opens the final envelope, it is still a work in progress.

  123. I agree with this post. In the country where I live, Argo was released in october and since then, almost no one knows about Argo. There is no mouth to mouth work about it, and those who know, like cinephiles and moving-loving people, consider it a great and entertaining movie but when asked about its chances coming academy awards time, they think does not have enough scope to go that way. And now, it turns out that since two weeks ago some people are only talking about Ben Affleck snub even though they still have not seen Argo, and I think this is the global trend outside the US.

    Now, lets go to the middle of the 70’s, 1975 just to name one year, everybody was talking about JAWS and this was worldwide. In the 80’s, 1982 just to name one year, everybody was talking about E. T. We can say the same about the 90’s. After each one of these movies, cinema was not the same, the world was not the same. I began to follow the oscars just to cheer these movies, so when it comes to Academy Awards prestige, this has a lot to do with Steven Spielberg being involved. His work spans over 5 decades and it will be recognized even more after his death as it happened with Hitchcock. He was snubed in 1975 and then again 10 years later, so that I do not understand how is that because of a snub Ben affleck is being elevated to the rank of the Hitchcok or Kubrick of our time.

  124. The most sentimental ending for Lincoln would have been the one most people seem to clamor for. Him riding off into Kaminski’s lighting ‘sunset’ minutes before his death. Some bizarre slap-on-the-back bow at the end of the film that serves no purpose except to manipulate the audience into a feel-good moment. Shane riding off or something. Spielberg messed up plenty of endings (the most egregious being War of the Worlds), but Lincoln wasn’t one of them. At least to me.

  125. I still don’t know what to predict. If Argo does in fact win ensemble tonight, or if Arkin wins Supporting, then I’d say it’s done. If Argo wins at the BAFTAs and DGA, then it’s done.
    But what else will Argo win?

  126. @Brian

    so his son weeping and holding on to the guardrail after the announcement of lincoln’s shooting was not sentimental? sally field in another crying scene as she walks out of lincoln’s bedroom is not sentimental? the fade out from the bedside gas lamp to his last inaugural address was not sentimental? i’ll take the sunset ending.

  127. Sasha – I just looked at 1989 more closely and found lots of parallels (I think, at least). I’m curious your thoughts…

    Amour (Cinema Paradiso) – Both upstart foreign language films
    Argo (Driving Miss Daisy) – Both movies that addresses race, are easily digestible
    Beasts of the Southern Wild (Sex, Lies and Videotape) – Both Indie film faves in Hollywood
    Django Unchained (Do the Right Thing) – Both movies that address race, make people uncomfortable
    Les Mis (My Left Foot) – Both stories about a man who is born poor, has great odds to overcome
    Life of Pi (Field of Dreams) – Both well-respected films with fantasy elements
    Lincoln (Dead Poets Society) – Both talky movies with a “captain” who makes lots of inspirational speeches, does good in his realm of the world
    Silver Linings Playbook (Crimes and Misdemeanors) – Both quirky romantic comedies about people with issues
    Zero Dark Thirty (Born on the Fourth of July) – Both controversial war films

    Some of the connections are stronger than others, but looking at the 1989 BP list, Driving Miss Daisy won because it was a movie that was socially relevant, and not too offensive, right? Seems like an argument in Argo’s favor, right? Not that you want that, though! This year is fascinating.

  128. Victor Barreto

    I’m sorry, but if there really is such a thing you people are referring to “poor Affleck”, the reaction of many on this topic creates a similar vibe, “poor Lincoln”.

    Being a foreign, personally I didn’t feel at all the masterpiece power some are getting from Lincoln, and if the hopes are high for some kind of justice with the best cinema has to offer, then we should be sad about the zero nominationgs for Christian Mungiu, Thomas Vintenberg, Miguel Gomes, Sergei Lozsnitsa…

    But everyone who follows the Oscar should know about the actual possibilities, inside the “reality” boundaries, aside from the fact it’s an USA award FOR the USA cinema. People like Michael Haneke nominated are weird phenomenons, but very worth of our praise given the odds against their favour.

    But Argo winning over Lincoln wouldn’t mean an injustice for cinema. Just take another movie with a similar appeall Lincoln has, like Gandhi, the winner of the 1983 Oscar. It’s not an important film for cinema’s story, personally I don’t even think it’s memorable, like it probably was at the time it was released.

  129. I know people like whatever they like and it’s totally subjective. However, I feel like people become to hypocrite right now jut because their beloved Lincoln or ZD30 are not winnin as much Argo is. Look at the fact people. Before the whole torturing from ZD30 or Oscar snub for Affleck, Argo got the best reviews out of all movies. It’s 96 at RT and it’s still the best reviewed movie of the year. It deserves all of the wins it gets. I think it’s just so unfair to trash talk Argo like it is horrible but in fact people love it both critics or audience. Can u say the same for Lincoln or ZD30? You wish.

  130. If “Argo” wins picture, what else does it take with it? I really don’t believe that anyone is taking the Adapted Screenplay award from Kushner, so that’s out (baring a WGA upset.) I barely thought Arkin had enough of a role to get the nomination, yet alone the win. So that leaves: Editing, Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing. I suppose it had a decent shot at Editing before this surge, but I really hope they recognize ZDT in that category. The fact remains, if “Argo” takes the top prize, the closest it’ll get to another major win is Editing.

    Despite the definite momentum it’s been picking up, an “Argo” win just doesn’t wash with me. After the DGA this could change, but even with the information I have before me, I’m sticking with “Lincoln” for Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay, with a possibility of TLJ upsetting DeNiro in Supporting Actor (that one really is more of a desperate prayer on my part.)

  131. Reichdome back with avengeance

    Argo the symbol of everything ugly and dark about oscar.

    Are oscar really seriously gonna contemplate snubbing spielberg film as best picture again? they already snubbed him for a fair chance with his masterpiece in munich and for the inventive genre redefining minority report.

    Hardly shit for recognition for ‘catch me if you can’ and we all know how infamous for best pic saving private ryan is.

    Sorry to say clooney and affleck are playing a political game they know how to appeal to academy heart answer- their celebrity status. Munich is far superior to argo by comparison bolder, edgier more controversial.

    Argo is the mediocre ‘let embrace the safe option’ cos we cannot give a shit bout embracing the true best of the best films anymore. And oscar i say it once i say it again if you do not give a shit why should the public prop up yor show and give a shitto give you a jump in ratings on the tv globally?

    Keep snubbing spielberg at your peril….it been over a decade since he won.

    What affleck achieved in such a short career? err..god will hunting and that is it

    Clooney has had more of a standout career

    shame is he deserved an oscar nom or even win for his role in three kngs..
    deserved more recogntion for his masterful good night and good luck- but def not for this.

    WhY? maybe part of cloonety’s i owe you for time he been snubbed,.

    Combined however, affleck have much to learn
    and they can damn well thank speilberg for being at the forefront of their cinematic influence probably the very reason they got into film.

    If Argo wins…and set another new stupid pointless reckless precdeent…then i will continue to condemn oscar and encourage others to vent theirspleen too.

    Maybe4 one day by the time oscar ratings have diminished out of desperation they act accordingly.

    It spks volumes that lincoln popularitty has not wavered.

    But one can argue spielberg films are above tbe worth of oscar…esp as is the case oscar obsess about celebrity not achievement…this is why oscar is negligent of it real role to embrace the best of the best and embrace that which the public want! who make films exist and make films have appeal and are part of our cultural discourse i wager with you much like spr in 1998 lincoln will be most talked about this year
    as well as the unfair unjust unforgiveable dark knight rises snub.

    Oscar.. the mental asylum beckons for you you need help. may i suggest a very damn strong dose of damn COMMON SENSE?!

  132. I mean the scenes evoked sadness, but I don’t think Spielberg wallowed in it as he has been prone to do. ET had a more maudlin death scene. As did Capt. Miller (over a period of decades). Sally Field’s crying scene was pretty much the most muted moment in the film for her. To shortchange it into a happy ending, where Lincoln won the day is manipulative for no reason. What is gained? A happy ending for a film, tragicomedic because we know what happens next? Is that how that story should end? Because it is a great shot? That seems to be putting the cart before the horse.

    Of course the problem is not that Spielberg ended the film in sadness. Sadness is not a negative emotion. It is that the film had to end like that. That particular story had to end like that. It had to end jarringly, incomplete, because that was how it was. Lincoln completed one task, but there was more to be done. His death interrupted the flow in, America, the film, Tad’s life, the administration, Washington, all of it. We were left with only an incomplete guide, Lincoln’s second inaugural, but without the force of personality that could ensure it was done. That is what was said those last few minutes, not in mawkishness, but in clarity. That is what would have been lost simply because Kaminsky had lit a nice long shot along a hallway.

  133. “Argo the symbol of everything ugly and dark about oscar.”

    I wouldn’t call it ugly and dark. You shouldn’t expect a loaf of white bread to become pumpernickel the next time you go make a sandwich. If you buy white bread, it stays white bread – even if you’re in the mood for something else later on.

    Oscar is white bread.

  134. @Bette I never get why people are still up in arms over Chicago vs. The Pianist like the latter is equivalent to or better than Schindler’s List.

  135. Byron E. Gray

    This best picture race was over a long time ago: Argo will win the Oscar because academy members want to believe they work in an industry so noble filmmaking actually saved lives. It’s pretentious and outrageously laughable but there you go: With this vote, they are going to kiss their own ass.

  136. Alexander

    Brilliant piece, Sasha. You’ve never been so incisive and profoundly penetrating as you are with this piece, in my view. It stands as a reasoned and astute commentary on the entire Oscar race, as well as a bold argument in favor of the film you have tirelessly championed, while illustrating just why it may not be palatable to a group of millionaire Hollywood types who are apparently deeply driven to avenge “poor Ben Affleck.” Haha.

    Echoing many others here, I cannot understand how “Argo” can be viewed as the best film of the year with “Lincoln” standing next to it.

    Victor Barreto, your take on this is fascinating, but I disagree that “Lincoln” will fall in esteem in years to come the way “Gandhi” has since its 1983 Oscar win over E.T. “Lincoln” is part political “Constitutional” procedural thriller, and it conveys a multitudinous array of the factional, familial and personal travails Lincoln encountered in his final months with a sense of balance befitting its allusions to Euclid. “Gandhi” feels like an unwieldy, earnest attempt to truly “biopic-ize” a huge historical figure. “Lincoln” is almost exactly the opposite, frankly: a film which, for about 80% of its running time, takes place within a three-week timeframe, but because of the denseness of the storytelling, it has the adroitly-rendered pacing and scope of an epic.

  137. i don’t have problems with films ending with sadness. everyone knows how it turns out for lincoln in the end. the great thing about the film’s take on lincoln is that instead of doing a whole life survey (or making him into a vampire slayer), they focused on the passage of the 13th amendment to give us an insight on his leadership, how he handled the war and governance at the same time and his interaction with everyone around him (although there are problems with this version of the story, but that’s besides the point http://www.thenation.com/blog/171461/trouble-steven-spielbergs-lincoln#). i think ending it without the inevitable, would actually have resulted in something sadder. as he walks out of the white house we would have been left with the what could have beens…if he was able to achieve so much during a war and time of crisis, what more could he have done during peace time? we never really got the story of how he got to the presidency. the movie chose to illuminate his life with his effort on the 13th amendment passage- so why not leave it at that? it allows the movie to breathe at the end (i.e. we never got the beginning, why give us the end?). but that’s just how i look at this film. great, respectable but not something i loved (and it shows with the shortcomings in the awards…lots of noms, lacking on wins).

  138. eclipse22

    ok going to watch lincoln

  139. Victor Barreto

    Thank you Alexander, I appreciate your take as well. Despite liking a movie or not, it’s always good to see someone exposing what fascinated them in their experience. It’s impossible to say if a movie really will survive the time test, and when I say Lincoln won’t, it’s a very personal opinion. Actually, I think both Argo and Lincoln will have a similar career, something that probably won’t happen with Tarantino. In Django, we can see him playing with cinema yet again, in a very refreshing, astute, and most importantly, audiovisual way. This is what I think Lincoln lacks. Spielberg obviously loves his character (your whole country probably does), but do you feel the passion for the film itself? Would some key scenes work without John Williams tender score? The time spent to explain the political issues was just too didactic. Movies like JFK and Syriana were muck fore efficient on that matter, for example. In my humble opinion, Lincoln is in the same group of other “biopics” that have wonderful production values, good writing, acting, etc… But as a whole? It’s just fine.

  140. It’s nice to know Argo’s going to win Best Picture because the Directors’ Branch of the Academy believes Michael Haneke is a better director than Ben fucking Affleck.

  141. Bob Burns

    should be said that Argo is the Democratic film this political year.

  142. Yes, nothing says a definitive take on Lincoln’s end as award wins and losses. Brilliant!

    Again, it would have been to end the story on a high note. It is a choice, but it doesn’t seem a great choice to me. The 13th amendment and ending the civil war were Lincoln’s defining moments, and letting it end there seems false to history and Lincoln’s character. But alas, it is a personal choice. I for one am glad Spielberg continued, even if somehow it is the reason Spielberg loses BP.

  143. Well, this essay is looking pretty smart in light of tonight’s events…

  144. “Movies like Lincoln, The Social Network, Hugo are the ones we here at Awards Daily champion not because they’re winners or ever going to be but because they are films you can dive into many times, come back up for air, dive in again and find more to see. Complex, perhaps difficult to access, not readily consumed in one sitting — those are cinematic achievements that will ultimately mean more to film history than what a few thousand can agree upon.”

    That says it all Sasha! Bravo! The fact that I agree with those 3 choices for Best Film of their respective years is almost irrelevant, for even if one does disagree with those films, one can not argue with your passion, wisdom, common sense and artful way you stated your case.

    It does look like Argo may be on its way to winning Best Picture at the Oscars, though I still hold the hope that the Best Film will win…Lincoln. But as we know, the best film doesn’t always win.

    What ever the outcome, there’s no denying that this was a splendid year for film and acting, and makes me look forward for the coming film year. But it would be nice at the ceremonies if the deserving film gets its due.

  145. Paul Voorhies

    Argo has been my pick to win since October. I thInk it’s a better film than ZDT. Does no one else see that, by voting for Argo, Hollywooders are essentially voting for themselves as having “saved the day” back in 1980? I walked away from the theater thinking it would be really difficult for voters NOT to vote for the film.

    I find Sasha’s histrionics, again this year, to be amusing. Nothing against Lincoln, but of all the films nominated, it’s clearly the closest to The King’s Speech.

  146. Reichdome back with avengeance

    hmm.. argo a film about producers recognized by producers the academy have mastered the farcical art of awarding the film closest to their own practices…and ignoring the far more bolder and ambitious and more accomplished of films this year.

    To say oscar is like white bread is like saying all of a sudden the stench of a bad government can become good. Especuially when the perception been for years now that the government is bad has poor judgement, makes poor decisions.

    Beyond dark and ugly, because it breaking with oscars own principles.There were countless years in my parents generation when films abotu producers came second best to films of greater accomplishement to advancing cinema as an art form.

    And academy did not conform to stereotypical oscar best pic wins as much as it does now.

    Even with Kings Speech. And to the person who said the film that says most about our democracy in this world take a good hard look at lincoln. the man who introduced the notion of equal rights in a mission to integrate african americans into society? something that obama himself follows in the footsteps and countless presidents past and present are influenced by . err yea…

    Lincoln by a mile is the most ‘democratic’ choice.

    Did the Argo cia operation filmed about producers to make a difference make a difference?
    do most of the public know or care about it story?

    NO hell bloody way!

    Not compared with the most famous and important of historical early political figures as far as there influence transcending their era.

    Now wondr there so much rage and anger and passion bout oscars warpath. this year like well most other years. of course i dont care if lincoln does not win best poicture
    lke with savingprivate ryan i revere it personally above any awards.

    but as i maintained over the years i DO care about the supposedly most open and l;argest of art institutions for nearing 100 years in our modern world…to see it tear itself to pieces undermine it core principles and values of advancing artforms to inspire other firlmmakers.

    Sound of music did it, ben hur did it, gone with the wind did it. dare i say saving private ryan did it, and lincoln will godfather did it, so on and so fourth. not enough of these calibre of films win when they deserved tO!

  147. “the trick is not minding” but girl you sure do mind a lot! :)))

  148. Victor Barreto

    Reichdome said:

    “Did the Argo cia operation filmed about producers to make a difference make a difference?
    do most of the public know or care about it story?
    NO hell bloody way!
    Not compared with the most famous and important of historical early political figures as far as there influence transcending their era.
    Now wondr there so much rage and anger and passion bout oscars warpath.”

    — x —

    This is extremely wrong in my opinion. The importance of a movie isn’t it’s subject, but the way it’s shown and presented in the form of cinema. Hitchcock has more than a dozen masterpieces filming mainly silly crime stories, and I would pick one of his movies over a boring political biopic any day to win a best movie award. This is not president Lincoln VS Argo operation, it’s Lincoln directed by Spielberg VS Argo directed by Affleck.

  149. If ARGO wins Oscar it will be the SECOND film in PGA/Oscar history that won without nomination for its director (because PGA started giving their awards in the year od “Driving Miss Daisy” – and they rewarded this film!).

  150. Part of me is a bit resistant with the idea that, if Argo wins, it will be because it’s the safe and uncontroversial choice. To me, Lincoln is the “safe”, the one people expected to win. It’s obvious to me that, now with Argo winning PGA/SAG ensemble that there are MANY people who think that this is the best movie of the year. It doesn’t mean that they’re sheep, it means that they got something truly meaningful from Argo as well.

  151. Paul Voorhies

    @Reichdome

    But……it’s not just about the producers. It’s about the make up artists, costume designers, screenwriters, actors, etc. etc. who made the A
    “Argo,” the film within the film. All of them made a difference in Argo, and The Academy is going to have a hard time not essentially voting for themselves.

  152. Jack Traven II

    Thumbs up for this great article (especially the last paragraph). … Once again. :-)

  153. ‘Spielberg obviously loves his character (your whole country probably does), but do you feel the passion for the film itself? Would some key scenes work without John Williams tender score?’

    Uhh, well…yes.
    Victor, with all due respect,
    Who are you to say who is or isn’t passionate about Lincoln?
    $170 million at the box office – are you polling every viewer across the country?
    Because a few hipster bloggers are too ….something…to get the nuances and the complexities and the epicness of what Lincoln, the man, did – you seem to be doing exactly what all those hipsters are doing…you’re oversimplifying the film – and that has more to do with you, than Spielberg.

    And Sasha,

    You’re passion for Lincoln is consolation to me this season.
    I can’t express how much this film means to me…it is huge, epic, sweeping, beautiful, relevant…sublime.
    Are people so cynical that they don’t see that? Or they so jaded that they can’t be moved by this great man, story?
    I just don’t understand it ….
    Thank you for giving me something to hold onto…to confirm that what I feel for this film is not an isolated emotion.

  154. Victor Barreto

    Yvette, I’m entitled to have an opinion. Just like you have the right to think it’s irrelevant as hipster blogging.

    However, according to your own post I’m now judging you for 3 reasons:

    1)”Or they so jaded that they can’t be moved by this great man, story?”

    It doesn’t matter if Abraham Lincoln has a great story or not (of course he does). What matters in this discussion is if the FILM treated the material in a memorable way, which I don’t think it did, it was just fine. People say Spielberg is now a mature director, well to me he was 5 ways more fantastic and deserving of a win in “Munich”.

    2)$170 million at the box office

    If that’s relevant for proving a movie is good, than open the Academy gates for Twilight. Of course, when I say I didn’t feel the passion for the material, I’m talking about MY experience. Just like in any form of art, I form my opinion based on my own experience, not in what the majority or the critics said.

    Which bring me to the third point:

    3)”Thank you for giving me something to hold onto…to confirm that what I feel for this film is not an isolated emotion.”

    You make it sound like it’s important to be a part of a “approval mass”. If you were the only person who liked Lincoln, you would simply discard your opinion just because there is no other “to hold on to”?

  155. Victor,
    My point about the 170 mil is that it means that a shitload of people
    are going to
    See this film…
    How the hell do you know who is or is not ‘passionate’ – and no …box office does not equate with artistic success but the the two are not always mutually exclusive either.
    It’s just that those who find Lincoln ‘safe’
    or ‘sentimental’ etc…
    I have to wonder what film you’re watching. Explain what you saw Victor, because just throwing catch phrase criticisms – ‘self-important’ etc..
    Or using that predictable Spielberg-is-crass bs is just lazy.
    Lincoln is the antithesis of a
    ‘safe Hollywood biopic’ …
    And some of you are completely missing it.
    Thats fine, but don’t pretend that its something it’s not. It’s cerebral and thought provoking and if you missed that…
    You missed it. Lincoln requires you to think beyond the funny wigs and sepia tones. It’s like when someone looks at a
    Pollock painting and says it just looks like a mess and that a child could have done it.
    When maybe you’re the one who just doesn’t get it.

  156. Victor Barreto

    Yvette, first of all let me admit I agree with you when you say there are many people out there who hate Lincoln (or Argo) for lame reasons. However, I don’t like your tone on how you put it, simply because you also didn’t expose the reasons for liking Spielberg’s film, aside the usual adjectives… Saying it’s ” huge, epic, sweeping, beautiful, relevant…sublime” is as simple as saying it’s safe and sentimental – no analysis there. So, don’t put yourself outside the lazy bowl just yet.

    Second, I personally consider Award-watching and film watching 2 different hobbies. The movies I consider the best usually have zero chances of winning any major award (beside the festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Venice, etc), so, it doesn’t really matter to me if Lincoln or Argo wins the Best Picture Oscar, because the movies I consider the best cinema had to offer in 2012 aren’t even in contention. There are rare occasions where one or two appear amongst the list, but usually just as a honorable mention (nomination with no chances). With that said, the real deal to me is which is the best with a real chance. This year there are just two, Argo and Lincoln.

    Argo is a fine film. One watch is enough, but it’s well made, with a good balance between wit and tension, and an engaged cast. And BTW, the sepia you mentioned as a lame tool can be found in Munich, a Spielberg movie (very superior to both Argo and Spielberg)!

    Lincoln, on the other hand, is the kind of movie that does have the self-importance factor, in it’s 2h30 full of not so important scenes. Yes, there are moments in which it’s not conventional, some are of a imense beauty that only a master like Spielberg could capture (Lincoln lying in the ground beside Tad comes to mind). But just look at the voting scene. Vote by vote, with John Williams score, transforming what was probably a sober court event in a larger than life Hollywoodian scene. For most of the public, probably a tearjerker moment, but I see it as a low blow, which weakened the story. Thought-provoking? Maybe on some key moments, but I still prefer bolder takes on politics, like Oliver Stone’s JKF, or Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana, which make much better use of their long running-time.

    So, I prefer Argo, simply because Lincoln winning would encourage even more what I consider is a plague in Hollywood, long self-important biopics (The Iron Lady and Ray for example). But Affleck winning wouldn’t be my first choice either, it’s just the way the game played. Like Sasha Stone said, it could end up very badly for him.

  157. Fact: looking at Argo’s awards history, it has only been winning since Affleck’s snub at Oscar DB, proving how indeed effective “poor Ben Affleck” narrative has worked.

    I’m soo tired of being disappointed year after year, with The Social Network (had a real chance of winning until the last moment), with Hugo (no chance of winning, so I never hoped), and now with Lincoln, a film I do feel passionate about.

    I’ve seen Lincoln 3 times now, and it’s been amazing how I always managed to see it differently everytime, different focus at different scenes. I never think it was boring or a simple self-important biopic. It’s a substantial and entertaining film.

  158. “This best picture race was over a long time ago: Argo will win the Oscar because academy members want to believe they work in an industry so noble filmmaking actually saved lives. It’s pretentious and outrageously laughable but there you go: With this vote, they are going to kiss their own ass.”

    Well said, my friend. Come to think of it, Argo is as hollywood as a film can be, ignorant (especially when it comes to the culture of the “othe country”) in certain parts, lacking in a sound argument involving different points of view, self loving and self important.

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