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Best Director – Heroes, Just for One Day

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“Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and is this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes.”
― Mark Twain

As we march towards the Oscars and Hollywood readies itself to crown its new king, the director category sits there like the guests at the dance who didn’t bring a popular date. Every other member of every other branch, seven in total, but only six if you count the individual branches using the preferential ballot, picked Argo.  But the directors didn’t.

In the past 40 years of Academy history, Chariots of Fire is lone Best Picture winner that trailed its competition with the 4th highest nominations tally overall.  Argo stands in line behind 4 other films this year with only the 5th highest total.  With that 8th nomination, a directors nod, Argo would have tied with Silver Linings Playbook and Les Miserables, giving Affleck a realistic chance to win.  But there was a reason Argo was left off the Best Director list.  No one has adequately come up with a good enough reason to satisfy his fans.  “It was a fluke,” some say. “It was just a quirk of weird timing in a weird year.” But the truth is that the directors branch knew Argo was a frontrunner and they knew everyone expected them to nominate Affleck.  We were all surprised when he wasn’t on the list.   Probably he split up the vote along with Bigelow, Tarantino, Anderson and other strong directors in a strong year.  Affleck’s unexpected absence ended up working in the film’s favor and now, inexplicably, Argo is the film to beat.  No film has ever won with the fifth most nominations.

If the names that replaced Affleck and Bigelow had been bad choices, lazy choices I could see condemning the Academy.  But you have to admire a group that picked Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke, stepping outside the box to reward visionary auteurs.  How can you complain about that? For once, the Academy has proved itself more daring than the critics.  Whoda thunk it?

In a logical world, the strongest two directors in the race would be Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee.  And in a logical world Affleck would have been nominated, you might be thinking, but without the perception of a “snub” it’s hard to imagine this kind of momentum being built.  After all, Argo entered the race the film people were least excited about.  They liked it okay, some thought it was great, but after he was “snubbed” it became #teamaffleck.  So if Argo prevails its win will be bittersweet.  No director nom has already predetermined that.  I don’t think George Clooney, Ben Affleck or Grant Heslov are going to care how it was won, the winning will be worth their time and trouble, director nod or no.  They are the producers. They will all walk away with Oscars anyway.

Everyone was expecting the same old Spielberg with Lincoln. They were expecting rousing battle scenes and smeary sentimental rack zooms.  They were expecting “more action scenes” and not a movie about people “just sitting around talking.” They wanted Gone with the Wind and they got To Kill a Mockingbird.  And they hated him for it. The fanboys especially. But it wasn’t just them — many in the bubble of film criticism and blogging, and those who cheer on from the sidelines of this dog and pony show we’re all a part of it — they just couldn’t stand to sit there and listen.  To listen.  Just to listen.

The beauty of what Spielberg and Kushner did with Lincoln was to bring what we all remember as Lincoln’s external world and transform it into his internal world. I admit you have to have patience for that. Most people don’t. Not when you have movies that give it all to you in one go — and there are a few of them this year and one is probably about to win Best Picture.  But if you do listen, if you do take the time to watch this film again, a whole different movie will emerge.  The film is about passing the 13th amendment but it is also, and primarily about, changing minds.  And not the minds of the people in the film. Their minds won’t be changed for hundreds of years. They mostly had to be tricked into doing the right thing and that was Lincoln’s gift — knowing when to exploit opportunity to do the impossible.  The Emancipation Proclamation was passed following one of the bloodiest battles of the civil war.  And the 13th amendment was passed right before the end of the war, with leverage to end the war being the main motivator.

A movie about people talking that’s made almost $175 million? 12 Oscar nominations? Lincoln got caught up in “they admire it, they don’t love it.”  Emotions are temporary. They don’t amount to much in the end except for recording a moment in time and what people were feeling at that moment. If I could wave my magic wand and change anything about the Oscars I would change that. I would say, make it about what it’s supposed to be about: high achievement in filmmaking.  Extraordinary work rewarded, not momentary passion. But I am not a magician. I’m just a lowly Oscar blogger and no one ever listens to me.

Another such triumph is Ang Lee’s Life of Pi — a celebration of life but it’s also a brilliant example of Lee’s willingness to go as deeply as possible to make the film he wanted to make. So much of it rests on the shoulders of the film’s star, Suraj Sharma, who worked so closely with Lee throughout that one could make the logical assumption Pi was Lee’s own avatar.  For Lee, it is a movie about the power of God. For many of us, it is also a movie about the willingness to choose God.  It is about that but it is also about cinema — about 3-D and the endless possibilities therein.  Like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, Lee plunges us into the third dimension not so that we think “wow, that looks real” but instead to pull us deeper into the story — full immersion.  That is what 3-D, when done right, has to offer.  But Pi works on its own, without the 3-D.  It’s true it’s polarizing, like Lincoln, but the best films always are.  The preferential ballot doesn’t allow for these kinds of films to win, that means it’s going to be a while until a truly great movie can ever win the Best Picture Oscar again, maybe if they switch back to five.

The one to watch out for is probably Benh Zeitlin. I’ve never had a movie take the breath out of me like this before. I thought “breathtaking” was just a word.  But it does have meaning and it happened to me at the end of Beasts of the Southern Wild. I suspect this film could upset in both Director and Screenplay. Can it win Best Picture with a preferential ballot? Oh, probably not.  But its originality is what got Zeitlin the Oscar nom for directing. It never once played it safe – Zeitlin decided not to listen to the critics or anyone else who told him he couldn’t do something. He decided he would do what he wanted regardless.  He and his producer found a way.  And they did it for under $2 million.  Instead of celebrating Zeitlin, and the Academy’s willingness to embrace change, the chattering class instead were upset that the Oscar race they were predicting was derailed.  Though I agree that Affleck deserved a nom, and so did Bigelow, how can you not be thrilled with Zeitlin also getting in?

Michael Haneke wrote and directed Amour, the other critics darling next to Zero Dark Thirty pre-controversy.  Haneke is an odd duck. His films are usually strangely cold. But he is an auteur like no other.  He enters the Ingmar Bergman realm with Amour. How thrilling to be living at a time when the directors branch is reaching back to those roots, when they really respected these outside-the-box directors enough to nominate them.  Amour is a love story but more than that, it’s an explanation of what love is. Love isn’t skipping down the street and kissing in the rain, it isn’t being rescued by Prince Charming, and it isn’t a way to find life’s ultimate happiness.  Love is a slog.  It’s sticking by someone even as they begin to decay.  It’s the desperate ties that bind us to each other.  I’ve never really seen a movie define it that way before.  Haneke is always surprising no matter what he’s doing.  He’s an old timer but he’s young in the mind.  I could see him upsetting also in the screenplay and director categories.

And then there is David O. Russell who, like Affleck, is showing the awards community that he really wants to win.  He went down the awards gauntlet with The Fighter and lost to Tom Hooper but he’s back with the kind of movie Oscar voters are supposed to love.  The relentless campaigning for Silver Linings could push it through to a surprise win; after all, Argo doesn’t have a lead performance to pin itself to as most Best Picture winners do. The Artist — Jean Dujardin, The King’s Speech — Colin Firth, even The Hurt Locker had a corresponding nomination for Jeremy Renner.  Even when the lead actors aren’t nominated, having that strong, central performance matters.  And Silver Linings has that, plus four acting nods.  The Academy liked it enough to give Russell a director nomination to boot.

To win Picture and Director, Russell would have to be the first and only movie since Annie Hall to win without having first won the Globe in the musical/comedy category.  Since their narrative has shifted from love story to mental health story, perhaps they have a better shot at it now.

Lincoln has 12 Oscar nominations, heading towards $175 million, three acting nominations and director nod. Life of Pi has 11 Oscar nominations, and insane worldwide box office of $550 million and climbing, and a director nomination.  As far as the Oscar race goes, and Oscar history, these would be the two films to beat.

It seems as if these two would be the most likely contenders for Best Director. It’s funny to think of it like that since both these men had what many consider to be the biggest Best Picture upsets in Oscar history; Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love (most nominations), and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (most noms) losing to Crash.  For Spielberg to win his third directing Oscar that would put him in the ranks of a select few who have won three: Frank Capra, John Ford, William Wyler.  John Ford is the only director with 4 wins.  No director has won a third Oscar for directing since 1959.

In a split year, you have to go back to 1966 to find the winner of Picture or Director that didn’t go to the film with the most nominations. Reds vs. Chariots of Fire, Brokeback vs. Crash, Chicago vs. The Pianist, etc.  That makes it seem both likely and unlikely that Spielberg might win a third.  He certainly deserves it and his 40 years of filmmaking put him in the leagues of a select few; that he is still making great films all of these years later is astonishing.

Right behind Spielberg is Lee, who hasn’t made as many films as Spielberg but has tried something new every time.  How many directors do you know that could have made movies as diverse as Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, then Sense and Sensibility, then Brokeback Mountain, then Lust, Caution, then Life of Pi? A versatile, robust body of work by a cinematic genius is also very worthy of the prize. Like Spielberg, though, he hasn’t won any major awards yet because both have been thwarted by the Argo steamroller.

To my way of thinking, though, and it chafes against the general consensus and the status quo, Oscar doesn’t like to split.  When it does split, the DGA usually determines the Best Director Oscar.  But it can’t do that this year.  So I think one of three scenarios will play out.

The first, and to my mind most likely, picture and director will not split. So, either they will pick Spielberg and they will pick Lincoln to go with it and not have to defy Academy history to do so.  Or they will pick Ang Lee and Life of Pi or they will pick David O. Russell and Silver Linings Playbook.

The second scenario is that it will split and Argo will win and Spielberg or Ang Lee will win Director.  That’s the generally agreed upon consensus.  With the brutal treatment of Spielberg and Lincoln in the press of late, god only knows what kinds of whisper campaigns are circling around it, I fear the worst in that regard.

The third is the weirder one to call and that’s a split with either Argo winning, or even Lincoln or Life of Pi winning and one of the newbie directors taking the award in a freak surprise.  Most of the scenarios we’re predicting have similar parallels at some point in Oscar history so it is definitely not your typical year.  But Ben Zeitlin, or Michael Haneke could win.

When we say wide open, we mean WIDE OPEN.

At the end of the day, I think Lincoln deserves to win a multitude of Oscars.   Behind Lincoln for me would be Life of Pi. And after that, Beasts of the Southern Wild, then Amour, Zero Dark Thirty, then Argo, then Django Unchained, then Les Miserables, then Silver Linings Playbook.

For Best Director in a split I’d probably have to predict:

1. Steven Spielberg
2. Ang Lee
3. Benh Zeitlin
4. Michael Haneke
5. David O. Russell

For Best Director in a non-split year I’d have to go:

1. Steven Spielberg
2. David O. Russell
3. Ang Lee
4. Benh Zeitlin
5. Michael Haneke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

88 Comments on this Post

  1. Only five branches picked Argo, actually. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are both decided upon by the sound branch.

    I don’t rate Benh Zeitlin’s chances. That was the only nomination in Director that was truly a big shock. It’s between the other four, for me. And that’s an extraordinary situation for this category to be in.

    I was hoping that this might be a crucial category on Oscar night – that a Spielberg win here might signal a Lincoln win in Picture, and any other director might signal an Argo win. But as you say, Sasha, these five guys are participating in a very close, exciting, potentially crucial race which has yet been almost thoroughly overlooked by most Oscar-watchers. This is a far more interesting category than Picture this year, in part because it may help to decide it.

  2. If film is a visual medium then this year’s heroic directors are, in my humble opinion, Ang Lee and Benh Zeitlin.

  3. Astarisborn

    Very insightful read Sasha, as usual.
    Ill go with this for now:
    If split – Ang Lee
    Non-split – Spielberg.
    True indication may be after BAFTA wins and other awards tonight.

  4. I sincerely believe Zeitlin will win. This race is wide open, but I believe this is Beasts best chance at glory. With the 2 front runners not nominated, I sincerly believe that the 2 outcasts in the group, Haneke and Zeitlin can win. I’m going with Zeitlin because of his massive campaigning all year.

  5. Great insight. This is why I can’t get behind the so called snubbing of Bigelow and Affleck, because this lineup includes some very bold and worthy choices. There is not one person in this lineup that deserves or warrants discarding to Affleck or Bigelow. Frankly I honestly don’t care if the press associated with ZD30 got Bigelow snubbed( and I actually think the press helped the film garner more public attention and more cash at the box office that it would have normally) or that Afflecks film was seen as too light, the 2 surprises were worthy selections. My personal favorite, Haneke, I would love to see win. It was a film hard to watch but never less a very poignant and ambitious movie it ins own right. But Ang Lee is also a worthy choice and another personal favorite. He turned a book I thought impossible to do into a cinematic triumph. All nominees in this category are worthy and I’m glad to see its a race that’s still a tossup.

  6. Henry Z.

    Argo has the fourth most nominations – not fifth! Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook are not counted separately, but equally.

  7. therealmike

    If Michael Haneke doesn´t win, David O´Russel will.

  8. I hope AMPAS will from now on always close voting before DGA anounces their nominees. It’s just so much more interesting and un-biased.

  9. danemychal

    Sorry, Henry Z., but you are wrong. In terms of official scoring, the nominations count would look like this:

    1. Lincoln (12)
    2. Life of Pi (11)
    3T. Les Miserables (8)
    3T. Silver Linings Playbook (8)
    5. Argo

    That is how ties are listed. Check records for something like The Olympics, for example, if you don’t believe me.

  10. Daveylow

    What disgusts me, and I’m pretty sure I’m right, is that if Ang Lee had not been nominated, no one would have complained or say, “Ang Lee was snubbed.” Before the nominations, several bloggers were saying that he would be ignored. Which is really taking a great filmmaker for granted.

  11. The J Viewer

    [At this moment, BAFTA has yet to come.]

    [PREDICTION *for now*]

    Awaiting BAFTA, for now I see my BP Oscar prediction (still) go to LINCOLN.

    In case Lincoln really wins,
    Spielberg
    or (Ang) Lee (alt.) picks BD Oscar in my opinion.

    In case Argo should really win,
    Lee
    or Spielberg (alt.) picks BD Oscar in my opinion.

    In case SLP should really win,
    O. Russell
    or Lee (alt.) picks BD Oscar in my opinion.

    In case Life of Pi should really win,
    Lee picks BD Oscar in my opinion.

    Etc.

  12. Before the nominations, several bloggers were saying that he would be ignored.

    I remember that! All the naysayers, jumping on the Django and Les Mis bandwagons and figuring that Ang Lee thus would be left off. That was one of my favourite things about the 10th of January this year!

  13. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Argo has the fourth most nominations – not fifth! Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook are not counted separately, but equally.

    Four films are ahead of Argo. That means Argo is the fifth film in line. That sentence has been reworded in the post.

    Math of the Titans.

  14. Argo winning Best Picture when Affleck is the face the film and didn’t get nominated is simply unprecedented. When has something like this ever happened? My Fair Lady winning despite no nomination for Audrey Hepburn? At least they had a valid excuse–she was lip-synching–and Rex Harrison won. This was the case for a lot of movie musicals, and films featuring child actors.

    Otherwise, I can’t think of the last time a film won without “the face of the film” even nominated.

    Zeitlin is probably the “happy to be nominated” slot, but even though I didn’t think that highly of Beasts, I think Zeitlin is more deserving than Haneke or Russell, on his own merit as much as because the other two films are more screenplay- and acting-driven.

  15. Terometer

    If the oscars can be judged by sheer directing talents, it’s between Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour. Steven Spielberg and David O. Russell should not even be nominated. The star of Lincoln and Silver Linings is their screenplay, not director.

  16. MoviePooch

    Steven Spielberg and David O. Russell should not even be nominated. The star of Lincoln and Silver Linings is their screenplay, not director.

    You are aware that David O. Russell also wrote the screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook aren’t you? Also, Steven Spielberg’s direction of Lincoln extended to the development of the script. He worked directly with Kushner, and other screenwriters, for years to hash out exactly the movie he wanted to make. It’s not like the screenplay was just handed to him and he simply made what he got. So I think this and more makes them both very deserving of their director nods.

  17. What happened to your Les Mis Team, Terometer? You expected Hooper to win?

    :)

  18. David O. Russell is going to win. Right when ballots were delivered he was getting headlines meeting VP and on tv promoting the film. If Lee or Spielberg were going to win, they would have won a precursor award already. Zeitlen has no chance. Haneke is only other viable option to win.

  19. David O. Russell is going to win. Right when ballots were delivered he was getting headlines meeting VP and on tv promoting the film. If Lee or Spielberg were going to win, they would have won a precursor award already. Zeitlen has no chance. Haneke is only other viable option to win.

  20. Tero Heikkinen

    Haneke would have a good shot winning if he was not nominated for Original Screenplay, same goes for David O. Russell who is bound to lose both Director and Screenplay. Haneke is strong in Screenplay, but he will get at least FLF, as we already “know”.

    I think three trophies for him would be too much in just five categories.

    Btw, in BP, Amour was “nominees to be determined”. Do we know the names? Not that it has any chance winning BP.

    More and more I feel like BD could go to Ang Lee and he would be VERY deserving.

  21. Ang Lee did seem to be the most popular at the luncheon.

  22. Jason Travis

    See how there are so many different analysis arguments for EACH contender? You’re seeing it right here in the comment section; I’ve read a case for each director, which means it’s going to be very close. Someone mentioned Russell is going to win because Lee and Spielberg haven’t won any precursors. Has Russell? Besides a Satellite award, has won zilch- and also was not a nominee for the Director’s Guild. Has any director won the Oscar with no DGA nomination?

    I think it’s anyone’s game really, but I would narrow it down to Spielberg and Lee- I don’t think the other three have much of a chance. Haneke maybe, but the academy will most likely bestow him their Screenplay honor to give him credit.

  23. Michael Lewis

    I’ll toss my hat into the ring and predict Argo for at least Best Picture and Best Film Editing, and Amour for Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. I’m basing my supposition on the PGA, SAG, and DGA wins for Argo, and the long, distinguished careers of director Michael Haneke and actress Emmanuelle Riva, as well as their film receiving both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film nominations. Since the competition is extremely keen this year, I’ll also go with Lincoln for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, Life of Pi for Best Cinematography, Visual Effects and Score, SLP for Best Supporting Actor, and Les Miz for Best Supporting Actress. That way the Academy can spread the wealth and still honor work that includes all five directorial nominees plus Ben Affleck.

  24. I don’t know, Riva had a career 50 years ago and then faded completely into obscurity until she suddenly got revamped by Haneke, she was largely forgotten until Amour, even in France.

    Not that I think it should matter (it should only be about the performance they are nominated for), but she’s no Plummer, O’Toole or Von Sydow, who had a career where they remained “big” for the entire 50 year run.

  25. ,Michael Lewis

    Sorry, I just realized that my comments should have said most of the directorial nominees, not all. The four nominations for Beasts of the Southern Wild, a first-time full-length film for young Behn Zeitlin, is an extraordinary achievement in itself.

  26. If the argument is that Michael Haneke will likely only be rewarded in one category (Director or Original Screenplay) rather than two, it’s possible that he could split his votes between the two categories and go home empty-handed (save Foreign Language Film, which he will keep although he won’t be the official recipient). I don’t think this is a reasonable argument. If he wins in one category, I think he’ll win in the other as well, as it might signify support for the film within the Academy. Voters won’t rally behind Haneke in one and not the other, not unless they have some secret forum to discuss their choices. And they don’t.

    Tero, the Best Picture nominated producers for Amour are Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz and Margaret Menegoz. The formerly ‘TBD’ nominees for Best Documentary were also announced a while back:

    The Gatekeepers – Dror Moreh, Estelle Fialon and Philippa Kowarsky
    How to Survive a Plague – David France and Howard Gertler
    The Invisible War – Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering
    Searching for Sugar Man – Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn

  27. Can I ask for the definitive end of the whinning ‘boug the snub of Ben Affleck? I’ve seen 30 films ellegible, only, but here are the directors I felt are more snubbed than Affleck’s effort for Argo (yes, I’ve seen the film, which is competently directed but lacking any soul, or personality, in my opinion).

    1. Quentin Tarantino. “Django Unchained” is multinominated yet they snubbed him. I find this snub way more disgusting. Here’s an “auteur” which delivered one of the best films of the year, which the AMPAS obviously saw and loved. Probably is his ego what prevented him of getting a richly deserved nom.

    2. Juan Antonio Bayona, “The Impossible”. The bastard son of Terrence Mallick and Steven Spielberg’s secret romance.

    3. Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers”. The film is an impossible challenge, accepted and delivered. Only the “splash page” on screen with us following in just one shot all six superheros fighting it is a bigger achievement than anything in Argo.

    4. Drew Goddard, “Cabin in the Woods”. This man delivered a pure cinematic orgasm. It’s likely that, 20 years from now, “Cabin” will be one of the best remembered and loved films of 2012 while “Argo” will be just a nice memory.

    5. Sam Mendes, “Skyfall”. Again, a film with personality, and soul, something extremely rare in Bond’s history. Mendes got not one, but THREE Awards-deserving performances in a 007 film. Craig, Bardem and Dench could have been nominated anywhere and you wouldn’t have heard much complaining about it.

    6. Nacho Vigalondo, “Extraterrestrial”. I know, I know, this is under your radar, but Vigalondo (“Time Crimes”) does it again, a claustrophobic, sometimes Polanskian, film that deals with fantastic almost reinventing it. And rom-coms, by the way. All at once.

    This 6 men deserved more than Affleck an Oscar nom for Best Director, in my honest opinion.

  28. In a NGNG, I’m having the hunch that “Life of Pi” is going to surprise big time and take Picture, Director, Adapted, Score, Visual Effects, Cinematography and Production Design. Maybe even a sweep.

    I think the AMPAS really believes they owe big time to Lee, a big victory, and with the extremely split situation they have, it’s an easy way out.

  29. Film Fatale

    @Jesus

    Juan Bayona was not snubbed. The Impossible is a well-constructed movie but not nearly as good as The Orphanage. He overdosed on sentiment and fell into Spielberg territory with emotional climaxes, syrupy music and too many close-ups of people crying.

    Joss Whedon was not snubbed. The Avengers is a highly diverting and expertly constructed superhero film — no more, no less. It’s superb enough at what it tries to do, which is light years away from what it takes to be Oscar-worthy.

    Drew Goddard was not snubbed. Cabin in the Woods was a lovely meta-horror picture with some subversive ideas and ingenuity. Well-made movie satirizing its genre effectively, self-reflexive, smart. And that’s it.

    None of these deserves to be nominated for Oscar.

  30. Film Fatale

    @PJ

    You claim that David O. Russell is “going to win” — stating that “If Lee and Spielberg were going to win, they would have won a precursor already.”

    Which precursor, exactly, has O. Russell won again? I must have missed it.

  31. Film Fatale… that’s YOUR opinion, OK?

    And I clearly said, this six are more deserving of an Oscar nom than Affleck, on 2012. Full Stop.

  32. @Paddy – I agree with your argument. If Haneke takes the screenplay he will surely become the favorite for a directing win which is in fact quite normal if we are heading for an Argo or Amour BP win.

  33. I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook yet (I will see it tomorrow) but as for now the most deserving of the bunch is Ang Lee, later – Benh Zeitlin/Michael Haneke (I can’t decide between them) and then very long gap – and Steven Spielberg at the very end. There were many directors who deserved to be nominated instead of him: Bigelow, Tarantino, Affleck, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Christopher Nolan etc. But they had to choose badly – and they had to choose Spielberg. If he wins – it will be the worst decision in this category since Mel Gibson, IMO. I hope it won’t happen!

  34. daveinprogress

    Spielberg or Lee for the Oscar. I would be very happy with either. If Lee wins but Pi doesn’t which is a possibility, it would be a twist for Lincoln to win BP, without its director.

    Likely outcome in my prediction – Argo and Spiellberg; but i think i’m worn down by all the Argo wins in recent weeks. Maybe I should wait for BAFTA…..

    Oscar history would be better served bestowing the first 3D Best Picture winner, and its director his well deserved 2nd BD prize. True art.

  35. If Argo wins BP, then Haneke will take the directing. If Lincoln or SLP wins BP, their directors will take the directing.

  36. montgopl

    Let’s remember that Argo fans will not magically disappear – if they’re in majority, it’s their taste that will determine BD, too. And I just don’t see them vote for Lincoln. It’s Pi or SLP.

  37. Tero Heikkinen

    ^thanks.

    Yes, that is true. They don’t have a secret forum. I can see them voting him en masse in both when there will be enough votes to win in Original Screenplay, but Director will be more spread and Lee or Spielberg takes that.

    Nothing could be worse at the Oscars than not seeing Haneke on stage at any point. That would kill the show for me and many others, and even Riva’s win would not save it.

  38. Tero Heikkinen

    That was mainly for Paddy. I just forgot to refresh… a while ago.

  39. Just watched Lincoln and its such an impressive historical monument of a movie. Its too huge to digest a couple of hours after screening. I think the stars of Lincoln are Tony Kushner and Daniel Day-Lewis. I think any director could do that movie, so without the strong Kushner screenplay and Day-Lewis magnificent acting, Lincoln would have been a boring mess

    Amour I simple love, admire and cannot get the movie out of my head. Riva is fascinating with Jean. I have never seen a movie like this before. Haneke continues to surprise me, over and over again. The theme is universal

    Argo was such a ride and really got under my skin and has staid there ever since december. Argo is a much stronger movie compared to The Town, so looking forward to the next Affleck flick. I dont think that Argo will get best picture. Its too soon. Lincoln will get the best picture prize

    Ang Lee has the most impressive filmography in modern cinema. Only Haneke is stronger. He has not made one really bad movie and continues to challenge himself. My favs of him are The Ice Storm, Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    Best Director Manuel pick:
    Will win: Haneke
    Should win: Haneke
    Could win: Spielberg/ Lee
    Cannot win: ORussel / Zeitlin

    Nominated movies to watch before the Academy Awards on the 24th:
    Life of Pi, Zero Dark 30, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Beast of the Southern,

  40. Film Fatale… that’s YOUR opinion, OK?
    And I clearly said, this six are more deserving of an Oscar nom than Affleck, on 2012. Full Stop.

    And what you initially posted, Jesus, is your opinion. Film Fatale was not arguing that their opinion was definitive, unlike you. Full Stop.

    Bitch plz

  41. This just in, according to Variety….. Argo wins the scripter! Surprise, surprise! Wishful thinking, probably

  42. Film Fatale

    LOL Paddy, and thanks for the chivalry.

    And Jesus, sorry, but I don’t think many share the opinion that Bayona, Whedon and Goddard should be Oscar-nominated for their films this year — it’s not just me, although yes, it is my opinion.

  43. So… Affleck is the greatest hero!

    ;)

    PS: I used measure my words, but I must confess: as I hate that BOTSW, that FSOTB Zeitlin and everything about that stupid and overrated movie.

  44. I agree with whoever said that it’s disgusting that an artist like Ang Lee whose monumental and daring achievement in Life of Pi would not have been given a second though had he been snubbed.

    I remember being totally amazed just by the sheer achievement Lee accomplished with Life of Pi. It was visually-stunning, made creative and impressive use of the 3D format, and yet true to Lee form, it was a very intimate and human. I think Lee did the best balancing act of any director this year.

    I personally would give the award to Michael Haneke because his work in Amour was incredible. A small, nuanced film about love and aging and deteriorating could have fell into so many traps or been stilted. Yet Haneke pulled off a moving film that didn’t really follow any of the rules most expect. I admit that it took a second viewing of Zero Dark Thirty for me to fully appreciate it. What Kathryn Bigelow built up to that intense and suspenseful end is nothing short of genius. It’s sort of like Chastain’s performance. It’s not an obvious achievement and many may think both director and actress simply followed the plot devices and moved it along, but upon another look, you notice just so much was put into the direction and performance. It’s not a work that can be easily appreciated on face-value.

    However, like Sasha, Behn Zeitlin simply blew me away. There’s just no words to describe what Beasts of the Southern Wild did to me. I just couldn’t believe the spectacle and beauty of what I saw. To say that Affleck was snubbed to me is saying that the Academy made a mistake in nominated either Haneke or Zeitlin and that is simply not the case. Too bad people aren’t saying David O. Russell was the one who robbed Affleck because that I can get behind. However, on Oscar morning, when all the rumblings initally took place, the brunt of the anger over Affleck’s “snub” was directed at Zeitlin and Haneke for the simple fact that many simply never heard of them or seen the movie.

    Tarantino did a masterful job with Django in his own cinematic flair. The only reason why I’m not making a bigger case for him is because I keep unfairly comparing Django with Inglorious Basterds and I feel Basterds was the superior work.

  45. Oh, and I forgot to say that people have underestimated Spielberg’s work in Lincoln to the point where Lincoln is truly underrated. As a law student (and a Poli-Sci student in undergrad), Lincoln really got me. The scene in which Lincoln talks about all the political and philosophical difficulty (not to mention Constitutional issues) he has to think about regarding the Southern States (are we at war with the actual states? Are we at war with those rebelling in those states but the states themselves are still part of the union? Should we treat them as foreign nations? Etc.) It’s just so fascinating.

  46. Jack Traven II

    Somewhat off topic.

    Today I watched All the President’s Men on DVD. And after having seen it once again I realized three things. First, I will (probably) never get tired of watching this film. As always I was completely captivated by it. Secondly, I now understand this year’s discussion about why a film that is admired rather than loved doesn’t win Best Picture.

    Already while watching the four-time Oscar-winning film I understood why it (might’ve) finally lost to Rocky. It’s “only” comfortably enthralling, it’s talky, it’s political. No (excessive) action scenes, no love story, no lovely happy ending that lets the audience leave the theatre with a smile. In contrast to the boxing drama. But in spite of owning a lot of heartbreaking feelgood films I never thought of buying the Rocky-DVD. I only saw it once and that was it. No need to see it (yet) again, no need to buy the DVD. In contrast to All the President’s Men.

    So, that year was (almost) like this year’s Oscar race seems to be. Apart from the fact that Rocky had the most nominations, a Best Director nod, a Best Actor nod and finally won against All the President’s Men which had only the 3rd most nominations and no Best Actor nod. So, Rocky became the most predictable Best Picture winner. In this respect the 1977 Oscar race could be viewed as a somewhat ironical version of the 2013 Oscar race.

    Lincoln is comfortably enthralling, talky, political. But it has the most nominations, a Best Director nod and a Best Actor nod. Argo has one excessive action scene, it has, well, no love story, but a lovely happy ending that lets the audience leave the theatre with a smile. But it has the 5th most nominations and no Best Actor nod. But as we know the (Oscar) times have crucially changed. The phrase “the film with the most nominations most definitely (almost) always wins” is passé. And since the Academy changes its rules and preferences as often as most people change their shorts the outcome of the Oscar race really became unpredictable. This year more than ever.

    So, without having the important director nod (the only big difference regarding the comparing Oscar years) it even seems possible that Argo has a shot at winning Best Picture. Who knows?

    But isn’t this more fun? No one knows anything. And as much as we want it to be predictable (maybe to see our own horse cross the finish line first), I think, we have to get used to these changed times. But who knows what the future has to offer? Maybe a nice pair of new shorts. ;-)

    Anyway, at the end of the day it is like you said, Sasha, what matters most are the films, not the awards. And that’s the third thing I realized when watching …

  47. acmilan03c1

    It IS more fun this way, Jack! But don’t get used to it. I’m quite confident in predicting we won’t see anything like this again for quite a while, and next year the race will promptly return to its usual, predictable self.
    All the President’s Men is pure brilliance and one of the most engrossing movies ever. It’s easily my favorite of the year (and easily in the top 5 of the decade – yes, THAT decade, when so many monster-classics came out) and should have won, of course. I’ve watched it countless times on TCM and I never miss it when it’s on TV. Like you, I too will never get tired of watching it.
    I do think it’s much, much stronger than Lincoln (which isn’t really Lincoln’s fault, since it’s so rare one manages to produce a movie as good as ATPM), while Rocky is stronger than Argo, but probably not by as much, if I’m being honest.

  48. Fabinho, what a gent. Where’s the justification for calling Benh Zeitlin a ‘FSOTB’, as you put it?

  49. 1976 was a great year.

    I personally loved Network the best.

  50. Astarisborn

    I loved Lincoln, Beast, 0dark30, Argo and looking forward to seeing Amour. There are many great, brilliantly executed films and memorable performances this year. There is only one movie that moved me with all of my emotions and is embedded in my mind like no other and that is Life of Pi. Emediately after I saw it, I began to realise that not only is it beautifully filmed as most would agree, but it challenged me to think, analyze, and appreciate the great art of film and also take a deep look at myself. I hope Life of Pi becomes the first 3D film to win Best Director or Best Picture or both.

  51. ChrisFlick

    I admire four of these achievements and could champion those four but the one that would stick in my craw (for this film) would be Russell, and I really admired The Fighter. But I just find the aggressive campaigning around this movie offensive. Trumpet him if you will as a director of large casts and group scenes, he is wonderful at that; and it is no small feat. But to start putting the idea forward that this is a serious movie about mental illness, as if it were putting on a costume, seems grotesque ‘talking points.’ Of the nine films it is the least.

  52. unlikely hood

    Tero:

    Nothing could be worse at the Oscars than not seeing Haneke on stage at any point.

    Imagine this scenario:

    Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver

    Best Supporting Actor: Robert DeNiro

    Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

    Best Actor: Bradley Cooper

    Best Director: David O. Russell

    Best Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

    You really think that would be a better Oscars than Haneke staying in his seat? Which one would be more of an embarrassment 10 years from now? Just the Haneke snub scenario? Really?

    :)

  53. edkargir

    If life of pi and or lee wins it would be a lot worse than the kings speech and hopper win.pi is the weakest of the 9 films. Bosw is a masterpiece but I know it won’t win nor will the second best film zd30′.so I’m rooting for slp win bp bd basp and yes best actor cooper had a tougher role than DDL who was also great.

  54. Edkargir

    If Amour does not win best foreign language film it will be the biggest upset of the night . Regardless of what wins bp and bd.

  55. “If life of pi and or lee wins it would be a lot worse than the kings speech and hopper win.pi is the weakest of the 9 films. ”

    Sure. Have another.

    You say you admire Beasts of the Southern Wild and Zero Dark Thirty yet are rooting for SLP? It’s @unlikely hood’s nightmare scenario come true.

  56. Bryce Forestieri

    So if ARGO wins Best Picture does it mean it’s better than THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, Z, and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE combined???

  57. Bball_Jake

    I still think Slver Linings Playbook can still take Best Picture, Director in an Annie Hall scenario. I’ll most likely put it down like that on my prediction ballot. Argo has a really strong chance of winning though, I just dont know.

  58. Tero Heikkinen

    Unlikely hood: Yes, that would be a nightmare, but it can’t happen. The Haneke scenario could – although it’s very unlikely.

  59. Tero Heikkinen

    I rate the 9 as follows:

    1. Amour, 2. Life of Pi, 3. Argo, 4. Lincoln, 5. Beasts of the Southern Wild, 6. Zero Dark Thirty, 7. Django Unchained, 8. Silver Linings Playbook, 9. Les Misérables.

    First two are undeniable masterworks, next four are great to near-masterpieces and the last three are just good. And as this is the Director thread… how I see them in order for these particular efforts (erasing previous works, due-factors etc…):

    1. Ang Lee, 2. Michael Haneke, 3. Steven Spielberg, 4. Behn Zeitlin, 5. David O. Russell.

  60. unlikely hood

    ^

    I pretty much agree with your rankings, though I’d tuck Argo between Django and SLP. I loved Django, though if QT made a movie every year his shtick would get older a lot faster.

  61. Tero Heikkinen

    Best thing about 1976 was my birth. I would say it was the best thing of the decade for me (yes, that decade). I’ve only regretted it less than a hundred times.

    Best film of 1976 is All the President’s Men.

  62. Edkargir

    Steve50, beast and zero are my first and second choice for bp but do not think they will win so I’m rooting for my 3rd choice slp .i think king is better than pi and think if pi wins it would be a bad choice even though worst films have won bp. I thought lee should have won bd and crouching tiger sh won bp over gladiator which was a very weak bp.

  63. Robert A.

    My rankings for this year:

    LOVED:
    1) Amour
    2) Beasts of the Southern Wild

    LIKED A LOT:
    3) Argo
    3) Life of Pi
    3) ZD30 (I wimpishly can’t decide how to rank these three yet)

    LIKED/ADMIRED WITH RESERVATIONS:
    6) Lincoln
    7) SLP

    NOT A FAN:
    8) Django Unchained
    9) Les Miserables (although I am a fan of Eddie Redmayne!)

    My 1976 BP Rankings:
    1) Taxi Driver!!!! (On my Top 10 of all time)
    2) ATPM
    3) Network
    4) Rocky
    (Embarrassingly, I haven’t seen Bound for Glory)

    PS Love Carrie to death!

  64. daveinprogress

    Yay to all the ‘Network’ fans. It feels apt to sing the considerable praises at this juncture of one of the best screenplays of all time. Paddy Chayefsky’s ‘Network’.

  65. For ’76 I’ve got (in order) Network, Seven Beauties, Harlan County, Taxi Driver, and All the Presidents Men. Unlike many other years, the order hasn’t budged since 1976. They all hold up great.

  66. daveinprogress

    Not sure if it was a record then, can’t think of any since – but ‘Network’ secured 5 acting nominations! Winning 3 of them.

  67. edkargir – Dude – don’t abandon your favorites! Predict whatever, but support the other two – they are much more worthy because YOU liked them better. Who cares if they have a chance or not?

  68. Victor Barreto

    “How thrilling to be living at a time when the directors branch is reaching back to those roots, when they really respected these outside-the-box directors enough to nominate them. ”

    Rly?

    If they respected them so much, they would have awarded them. Bergman Oscarless? Gosh. Godard wasn’t even nominated for director, ever.

    And if Pi, Amour, BotSW, or SLP win Best Picture, they will probably defy history and precedents even more than Argo.

  69. Victor Barreto

    And for you all making tops, I believe neither Stroszek or Seven Beauties are from 1976. SB just got its nominations for that year.

  70. Moment I’ll never forget. Standing in line to see Network in Jan, ’77, when word came down the line that Peter Finch had just died. Then we all watched the movie. Talk about a shaken audience.

  71. Robert A.

    “So if ARGO wins Best Picture does it mean it’s better than THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, Z, and THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE combined???”

    Huh? This makes no sense. These movies are all from different years. When the Academy votes, they’re choosing what they collectively consider the best movie of one particular year. If they give a movie from Year A Best Picture and don’t give a movie Best Picture from Year B, they’re not saying that the Year A movie is necessarily better than the Year B movie. They’re just saying for that particular year, in that moment in time, X was the movie they collectively preferred over the others from that year.

    If Argo wins Best Picture, I think it will rank as a good Oscar BP winner. Not one of their best winners like The Godfathers, Lawrence of Arabia (although I secretly don’t love this movie quite as much as I’m supposed to), All About Eve, Unforgiven and so on, but certainly not one of their worst (Greatest Show on Earth, Going My Way, and Crash!).

  72. Bryce Forestieri

    Hey Bette

    what position does NETWORK have in the infallible Sight & Sound?

  73. Robert A.

    “Hey Bette

    what position does NETWORK have in the infallible Sight & Sound?”

    I’m not Bette but I can answer this.

    Network did not score in the Critic’s Top 250, I don’t think. It did, however, score 224th in the Director’s Poll.

  74. At this point, I’m almost predicting Argo runs the table and wins in all its nominated categories (including Alan Arkin). Which makes the Affleck snub all the more baffling.

    Lee is the most logical BD winner, but as bizarre as this awards push has been, why not, BOSW wins it’s only Oscar for Best Director.

  75. I think Russell’s winning this. He’s the only “safe” choice not to have won here, he’s directed 7 acting nomintions out of his last 2 films (hello Mike Nichols), he’s campaigning his ass off, his film way overperformed with nominations, and he’s actually a nice enough guy these days.

  76. Film Fatale:

    “Juan Bayona was not snubbed. The Impossible is a well-constructed movie but not nearly as good as The Orphanage. He overdosed on sentiment and fell into Spielberg territory with emotional climaxes, syrupy music and too many close-ups of people crying.”

    I rather like my sentiment in saturated doses, thank you very much.

  77. I will participate in Bette’s 1976 film round-up!

    1. The Ascent (Shepitko)
    2. Face to Face (Bergman)
    3. L’Innocente (Visconti)
    4. Taxi Driver (Scorsese)
    5. Sebastiane (Jarman)
    6. Network (Lumet)
    7. Duelle (Rivette)
    8. Mr. Klein (Losey)
    9. The Tenant (Polanski)
    10. Ai No Corrida (Oshima)

    Runners-Up: All the President’s Men; The Marquis of O; Small Change; Carrie; 1900; The Bad News Bears; Satan’s Brew; Stroszeck; Cria Cuervos

    The best film of the 1970’s:

    The Last Picture Show

  78. Only Russell and Zeitlin are OUT.

    Lee, Spielberg and Haneke are neck and neck the way I see it.

  79. “This 6 men deserved more than Affleck an Oscar nom for Best Director, in my honest opinion.”

    Film and Paddy, that is a quote of my original post. It seems you have a problem with basic language comprehension. Don’t feel insulted, but it is really frustrating to be giving my opinion and that people distort it, so they can complain about. Deserved more IS NOT “I feel they snubbed”.

    Seriously… You guys just reminded me WHY I left.

  80. ARGO FAN

    I want argo to win..but if it were lose it better be to life of pi because i honestly feel it is the best movie of the year…but i still support argo since ben affleck was deliberately snubbed.

  81. acmilan03c1

    Bound for Glory is my no. 2 of the year. Taxi Driver is third, and Murder By Death is probably fourth. Everything else I just like but don’t love, Rocky included.
    I’m not a big fan of Network and it doesn’t make my BP lineup. It doesn’t do anything for me on a personal level; the point it makes is not one that interests me greatly or makes me feel in any way that it requires a whole movie production to be expressed, instead of a paper or an article, or perhaps a play, or even that the former is the most suitable medium for such a story.
    This type of work has little to no rewatch value for me; stuff like Fargo (which I find nowhere near as funny as most people seem to think it is, and it mostly just makes me feel sad), No Country for Old Men (which I actually HAVE watched more than once, and while it does get A LITTLE better on second and third viewing, but not by that much, it’s still not even among my favorites of 2007, which was a pretty weak year for my tastes), There Will Be Blood etc., they’re not my thing. All well made (some, very) and interesting, but that’s about it, if you ask me. But yeah, people just love a dark, twisted story these days, and I tend to think these movies are a bit overrated mostly because of this…
    I like Bergman, though, for instance. He has very deep messages worth exploring, and he explores them in an unique, interesting and, more importantly, CINEMATIC way. I’m not a HUGE fan, but I like most of his movies quite a bit more than all of the above. I also like movies based on plays. Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and The Lion in Winter, for example, are two of my favorite movies and I can rewatch them to no end (especially the former). Those, and also Lincoln, to get back to this year, I feel are stories worth telling IN A MOVIE, stories that gain something by being shown on the big screen instead of on a stage.

  82. Oscar has passed over previous directing nominees – Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut, Kurosawa – some more than once, all masters working in there own language. And although Haneke is joining their ranks with Amour , it would be the biggest surprise of the night and a true first if the full academy awarded a director an Oscar for directing in a language other than English.

  83. @Rob – I think Haneke has a decent chance of winning the Best Director. There is not an extraordinary talent ahead of him in the line up. I hope Academy will not repeat the past mistakes and award Haneke what he deserves.

  84. @ Rob & Sammy: totally agree about Haneke and his deserved place in world cinema. From The Piano Teacher to Cache to The White Ribbon, he’s produced startling work in the past decade. I’m hoping for the same gasp of surprise that greeted the unexpected Polanski win ten years ago.

  85. To me “Network” is one of the greatest films of all time. Just my opinion, though. It’s a shame that it didn’t win BP/BD.

  86. unlikely hood

    The thing that strikes me about 1976 is that it was the last year not to feature a very broad, funny comedy. Everyone was so serious that year – well, except Mel Brooks (but Silent Movie wasn’t that funny) and Marlon Brando in The Missouri Breaks, but the rest of that film was serious. It’s a coincidence in some ways – Woody Allen was between masterpieces – Love and Death and Annie Hall – and so was Monty Python. Next year brought Kentucky Fried Movie, then Animal House, and Hollywood hasn’t looked back – some SNL alum has been mugging in a film every year since.

  87. for 1976, Network is one of my top 10 films of all time, the other 1976 films don’t even compare. Seven Beauties, however, was also awesome.

    I hope to god, Haneke wins. He deserves it. Ang Lee would be great, too. In fact, all the winners would be great except Spielberg. That film had NOTHING to show for its directing. And I’m sorry I won’t take that as a sign for great directing. I liked Lincoln but Spielberg doesn’t deserve it.

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