Lessons in Oscar Watching: Every David Needs a Goliath


As I was thumbing through the headlines and tweets about Ben Affleck, the DGA and Steven Spielberg I suddenly realized — after 14 years of observing the Oscar race — that in order to have a David you need a Goliath.  Though Lincoln was an incredibly difficult film to get made, though even Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg had trouble getting it made, even though they budgeted to keep it around $65 million it somehow got propped up as the Goliath.   I kept wondering why there was a kind of spiking the ball every time Affleck won and Spielberg lost – and the headlines on the web finally clued me in.

As a sidenote: apologies to all of the nominees, Affleck, Spielberg, you name it, they’ve been dragged through the mud or will soon be dragged through the mud. All they tried to do was make great movies and suddenly they were thrust into the latest episode of the Christians vs. the lions. The awards race is an ugly beast and it is choking the life out of film – while at the same time it does miraculous things too with movies that would get no exposure otherwise. It’s a two-sided coin – on one side, medusa and on the other, double rainbow.

So beware the need for a Goliath and remember, you never want that to be your albatross heading into the race. Though people like to be on the side that’s winning, they definitely don’t want to ever be on Goliath’s side.

This really only happens in a split or mixed up year. When you have a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, The Artist or No Country for Old Men it doesn’t make a difference because there really isn’t a choice.  But The Social Network was the Goliath and The King’s Speech was the David.  Brokeback Mountain, the Goliath, Crash, the David.  It’s a strategy that can work as long as the opposite side plays into it. Since Lincoln never won any major awards yet headed into the race with 12 nominations it naturally took that slot. An underdog Lincoln was, an underdog Lincoln remains.

And therein, my new Oscarwatching rule: never become Goliath.

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  1. Frederick Helmer
    February 3, 2013

    I actually think Life of Pi is the bigger Goliath. It will sweep those technical categories and has a good chance to win directing along the way. Whereas, Lincoln may only win Best Actor.

  2. Mel
    February 3, 2013

    I think it all comes down to the following formula to win best picture now: be as inoffensive as possible, don’t be perceived as a front-runner too early in the game and peak at the right time.

  3. Bette
    February 3, 2013

    “This really only happens in a split or mixed up year. When you have a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, The Artist or No Country for Old Men it doesn’t make a difference because there really isn’t a choice. But The Social Network was the Goliath and The King’s Speech was the David. Brokeback Mountain, the Goliath, Crash, the David.”

    I don’t understand the above comment at all. Brokeback dominated in a way no other film but Schindler’s List. NY to LA, Globes to BAFTA, DGA, PGA and WGA to BFCA to 20something critics prizes overall, best box office, etc. How in the world was that a split or mixed year? Crash didn’t even have a Globe nomination for Picture or director. I get why it was a split with Social Network (all the critics) and King’s Speech (all the Guilds), but Brokeback had them both.

    And why was there no choice with Slumdog? Wall-e was a much finer choice, and it won Best Picture LA, etc. Why with No Country? Yes, it had the guilds and many critics prizes, but Atonement took the Globe and BAFTA and the year’s true best There Will Be Blood took LA. Blood and Wall-e were great choices. And most critics would contend that Tree of Life was a better choice last year than Artist. Why does one need marketers to create the David? Why don’t the films speak for themselves, the way they did this year, for a rare rare change, when Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour deservedly cracked the top 5 at the nominations? Or back in 2002, when the Pianist won Director, Screenplay and Actor, before ultimately losing Picture (in a move that made zero sense by the Academy)?

    The answer, of course, is politics. That’s what is prevalent on so many of these threads, politics, while naturally a prize for film/art, should be about film/art. But the Oscars aren’t. They never were. They are an irrelevant disgrace, Bunuel was right.

    Also, if a film truly is a goliath, then perhaps its taken on the goliath status because so many groups thinks its the true best, like Brokeback or Social Network. Munich was the favorite at the beginning of the 2005 awards season. Brokeback became goliath because of its unprecedented victories in picture and director. Then, Social Network eclipsed Brokeback’s critics record, only to get crushed at the guilds. But why can’t the critical best go all the way? Because its the Oscars.

  4. JP
    February 3, 2013

    “And therein, my new Oscarwatching rule: never become Goliath.”

    A Beautiful Mind (against The Fellowship of the Ring, that was David then… a fantasy film had never won), Chicago (against The Pianist), The Return of the King (against Mystic River), The Departed (over LMS) and No Country for Old Men (over Juno) were pure Golliath.

    But as much as we all praise The Hurt Locker, a David vs. Golliath text feels incomplete without its inclusion. It’s the greatest David (15 millions against 750 millions) ever and a proof that sometimes it’s good that Davids wins.

    Also: I’m not sure The Social Network is really Golliath. I think it is the David that we all thought was Golliath based on the 1st half of the season. The King’s Speech is a biopic, deals with a historical issue, has 3 respected stars starring in it.

  5. daveinprogress
    February 3, 2013

    No chance of you being the Goliath, Sasha – you’re no Philistine.

    And you love the movies that you love.

    I’m happy being ‘Hugo’ and ‘Pi’ to ‘The Artist’ and ……..

  6. Bette
    February 3, 2013

    Mel is exactly right. So why are the Oscars taken seriously?

    Only one thing, Mel. Crash’s Oscar was extremely offensive indeed. To those who love Crash, sorry, that doesn’t matter whether you or I or most others like Crash or not. The simple fact is, its Oscar was purely political, awarded to a film with mixed reviews, but about the “right” topic, race relations, to hide the Academy in its bigotry and homophobia. It was the “acceptable” choice to stop the gay film. Unacceptable.

  7. A.J
    February 3, 2013

    Can we stop acting like the race is over? Look what the new calendar did to nominations, who knows what it will do to voting! Before nomination morning everyone KNEW Bigelow and Affleck would be nominated, now everyone KNOWS Argo will win Best Picture. But you know what? Nobody knows anything.

  8. JP
    February 3, 2013

    “I don’t understand the above comment at all. Brokeback dominated in a way no other film but Schindler’s List. NY to LA, Globes to BAFTA, DGA, PGA and WGA to BFCA to 20something critics prizes overall, best box office, etc. ”

    I know that some guilds didn’t exist then but Slumdog guild swept is unprecedented: PGA/DGA/SAG/WGA/Editors/Cinematographers/Art Directors/Cinematographers/Sound Mixers. This film stands along with SL as the greatest phenomenon in the awards season’s history.

  9. Sasha Stone
    February 3, 2013

    It’s about perception, Bette – about the underdog taking over the “frontrunner.” I think I finally understand one crucial piece of the Oscar puzzle. Remember The Aviator vs. Million Dollar Baby or Benjamin Button and Slumdog even…Saving Private Ryan and Shakespeare in Love… Anyway, it’s interesting. Now that Argo has it in the bag watch how their campaign is going to step on the gas I just saw a Chariots of Fire esque TV spot. It’s pretty masterful, the whole thing.

  10. Sasha Stone
    February 3, 2013

    Wow, JP, I never put it together like that but I do remember Slumdog’s crazy SAG ensemble win. That was wild. That was pure love for that movie. It had it all.

  11. Sasha Stone
    February 3, 2013

    AJ, I am sorry to say that I do think it’s over.

  12. gbocampo
    February 3, 2013

    There will be doubters, but my gut feeling sticks with Silver Linings for BP. I don’t know why. Passions votes are all over the place for Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lincoln, Silver Linings, and Argo maybe. An Argo win might not be as easy as it is looking right now.

    BP: Silver Linings
    BD: Russell
    BActor: Day-Lewis
    BActress: Riva/Watts (IKR)
    BSupActor: Jones
    BSup.Actress: Hathaway
    Orig.Screenplay: Django
    Adapted Screenplay: Argo
    Editing: Argo
    Cinematography: Life of Pi

  13. manrico1967
    February 3, 2013

    I think in terms of difficulty, LIFE OF PI is by far the greatest achievement of the years. (Well, I think PI is by far the greatest achievement of the year, period).

    Yes, LINCOLN took forever get started. But PI is based on a book that defeated more than one director. They simply decided that the book was unfilmable. Ang Lee and his collaborators were not even sure if they had the technology to make it believable (The making of PI was already in progress when AVATAR came out).

    PI was a far, far bigger gamble than LINCOLN. There was a real chance that PI could be a complete disaster, artistically and financially. That it is a complete triumph on both aspects is a testament to Ang Lee’s brilliance and courage.

    Now, to the notion that people are “against” LINCOLN because it is too good and that there’s a lot of envy against Spielberg is ludicrous.

    In 1993 Spielberg had the biggest box office hit and the biggest critical hit with JURASSIC PARK and SCHINDLER’S LIST. That year Spielberg was not Goliath, he was Godzilla. And yet his movies won 10 Oscars that year. There was not backlash.

    And what about DDL? No one seems to have any problem with him winning his third Best Actor Oscar. Or the he won only 5 years ago.

    Except for a minor critics group (In Texas I think), LINCOLN has not won a single BP award. Or Spielberg a director award.

    If LINCOLN wins BP at the Oscar, it will be its first major BP award. Even CRASH had a major BP award before the Oscar (The Chicago Critics group).

    Some Goliath.

  14. Jeremy
    February 3, 2013

    Argo is such a boring ass choice. I’d be depressed as fuck if I ran a website for this dog and pony show, posting every day, predicting which movie looks Oscar-Award-Worthy six months out from the damn release date just because so-and-so is attached to direct it/got good buzz at name film festival/poster looks interesting/etc, and then the safest, least offensive, 7/10 movie won in the end. Like the year before that. And the year before that.

    NCFROM was an anomally, not a changing of the guard. Do you ever look in the mirror and go, “Why bother?”

  15. PaulH
    February 3, 2013

    Rather, like Wilt Chamberlain famously said, ‘Nobody roots for Goliath.”

  16. PaulH
    February 3, 2013

    “But as much as we all praise The Hurt Locker, a David vs. Golliath text feels incomplete without its inclusion. It’s the greatest David (15 millions against 750 millions) ever and a proof that sometimes it’s good that Davids wins.”

    Grrr. Aargh. The perfect capper to a day when Super Bowl Ex Ex Ex Ex Vee Eye Eye ends on a blown call by the refs that screwed the Niners out of a title just so Ray Lewis, double-murderer and 6 kids by 4 women can go out a winner.

  17. Jade Fox
    February 3, 2013

    “NCFROM was an anonymity, not a changing of the guard. Do you ever look in the mirror and go, “Why bother?””

    Yeah I thought NCFOM was a change by the Academy. I thought they would finally have some nerve and not be afraid to pick a great movie even if it didn’t make them feel good. But that’s clearly not the case. Just look at what happened with Zero Dark Thirty for fuck’s sake. All that momentum squashed because of three senators, a bunch of media pundits who apparently don’t realize that depicting inhumane acts doesn’t mean a filmmaker is endorsing them, and one journalist who went as far as comparing Bigelow to a Nazi propagandist. It getting the shaft in the guilds was purely political and Sasha’s right Argo did benefit from it.

    Sasha, you’re a better woman than me having to deal with the stupid people you do.

  18. Terometer
    February 3, 2013

    “they definitely don’t want to ever be on Goliath’s side.”

    Too late. Steven Spielberg is ruined by people who want to establish a record breaking victory for him. And that’s when Argo the David emerges.

  19. montfort
    February 3, 2013

    I’d be glad to know it was over and write down all the correct answers and clean up at my Oscar Pool, but there are nine movies in the race and many people are going to stick with their choices no matter what. So the real question is which film do movies like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour and Django Unchained and, especially, Zero Dark Thirty pull from when they get votes. The answer is: NOT LINCOLN! It ain’t over ’til it’s over. And though I loved Argo, there is no question in my mind but that Lincoln is the better film. Will the Oscar go to the film I love? Or the film I liked a lot? At the end of the day, history will pick the true standout. I don’t even remember the plot of Crash; Brokeback Mountain still sends a depth charge through my heart. The eternal themes of Lincoln are, perhaps, not for the shorter attention spans of the present day. But that does not lessen its power, nor proscribe its future. I will watch Lincoln again and again, but I have already seen Argo.

  20. Tony
    February 4, 2013

    In an unprecedented year with master-class achievements, the film industry (meaning the Globes, the Guilds and very soon the Baftas and the Academy) picked the most mediocre choice imaginable. I read somewhere, that being huge communities of thousands of voter, the guilds are eligible to pick “the right” winner. Well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. A little bit of knowledge in probability and statistics (and i have a lot of it since i’m an engineer) reveals that by the law of large number, when the number of statistical samples in the population is growing without limit, all countable variables show tendency towards their average values or expectation with a probability approximating one.
    So in other words, Argo while far from being the right choice is the year’s average choice. Simple and short term celebration of mediocrity. And that is what strikes me the most. After snubbing Bigelow and her grand ZDT, making it the ultimate looser, and the critics irrelevant, i started to feel comfortable with Lincoln winning. On January 11th and shortly after, Lincoln felt like the VERY RIGHT CHOICE, a critical, commercial and artistic consensus. Right now, i feel betrayed and stupid. I never saw Argo coming, never saw its power. I still don’t see it. What is so great about that likable average???

  21. Koleś
    February 4, 2013

    I still don’t see how can anyone say that the race is over? Goliath or no Goliath “Lincoln” is still the movie with the most noms and is a stone cold lock for Best Actor (and that quite often goes in pair with BP). “Argo” might very well sweep the guilds, but in no way is anything even close to a lock in any of the categories. No one can say that “Argo” will win Editing or Screenplay without hesitation and these are the awards that “Argo” MUST WIN to even think about BP. No secret that “Argo” is not the best edited film out of the five nominated, same goes for writing. I still think that the damage done by the lack of Best Director nod will matter in the end.

    Here’s an interesting statistic, but maybe a little over the top. I think only one time in history a movie that scored both Best Actor and Best Director didn’t win best Picture and that was “The Pianist”. DDL is a lock, so if Spielberg wins director “Lincoln” wins Picture. I honestly believe that if Tom Cruise won for “Born on the Fourth of July”, Stone’s picture would have won.

    I have no idea who will win Director, but Spielberg is the obvious choice. An unprecedented win by Haneke would be astonishing, but also well deserved. It is the best picture in the race, but I’m just happy it’ll get it’s due somewhere else. Best Picture and Director look well out of reach. David O’? I don’t think so. The movie has a very crutial Editing nom, but it’s headed down the same line “The Hours” and “Erin Brokovich” did. A lone award for actress is as far SLP will go. Zeitlin? Happy to be there. No real threat. So it boils down to Lee and Spielberg. “Life of Pi” will score big in the technicals and might very well be the evenings most awarded picture, 5 Oscars are very possible. So that puts “Life of Pi” in the “Hugo”, “Aviator” category. That leaves Spielberg.

    If DDL, Spielberg and Kushner win (and maybe even TLJ) it’s the same set of awards that “The Pianist” had. But “Pianist” wasn’t the most nominated picture that night (it wasn’t even the second). “Chicago” had a shitload of technicals (sound and editing, very important) and an Acting win (out of four noms), something that “Argo” doesn’t have and won’t get. “Lincoln” will win, both Best Picture and Best Director.

  22. Andrew
    February 4, 2013

    Sasha, Lincoln wont win because AMPAS is just not into it as a BP, as most of the precursor groups weren’t either. It is a simple as that.

    Nothing to do with David and Goliaths.

  23. Akumax
    February 4, 2013

    The snub has helped Argo but love for the movie has always been there. Will it continue?
    Now, in front of the Oscar ballot, after all this guilds momentum for Affleck and his movie, I think the mind of a lot of members, who don’t have Argo in their first place slot, could go: I don’t think Argo is the best picture + it is the frontrunner = I place it in the bottom part of the list.

    If there is a Goliath, now that is voting time for real, it is Argo. Perception changes fast. I’m not saying the LOVE for Argo is going to disappear or that it will not win, but it is not over.
    3 things that could either help or hurt Argo on the Oscar ballot:
    - frontrunner status in such a strange year.
    - lack of the director nom, once the “poor Ben” feeling has faded in the light of a DGA.
    - Possible BP winner with just that one Oscar in the bag.

  24. Edkargir
    February 4, 2013

    Beast is much bigger achievement than pi which I think is the weakest of the 9 bp nominees. By the way Capote should have won bp over over BBM and Crash.

  25. Bob Burns
    February 4, 2013

    Argo is suicidal for Oscar ratings long term, given the current schedule. One month of people knowing the outcome of your telecasts?

    People don’t even bother speculating about winners anymore…. they sound like suckers or are just repeating something everyone already knows.

    Why dod the other contenders even bother to spend money campaigning during February?

    The Academy has got to move up the telecast into January.

  26. The J Viewer
    February 4, 2013

    Just a thought in general: Am I the only one that still believes (Ang) Lee, following Affleck’s DGA win, is now standing tall for the showdown with Spielberg in the BD Oscar?

    Not championing Lincoln, but for the time being I still see Lincoln on the top spot for BP Oscar winning chance. And do let us wait and see what ladies and gentlemen at BAFTA have to bring on to the table. The race is not over yet.

  27. edgar v
    February 4, 2013

    If Argo does win, that’ll be seriously depressing. It’s a film of such colossal averageness, I’m stunned it’s even being considered for all these prizes. I can’t think of a single memorable moment in the whole film. What it does have going for it is a wittily written script, but even that doesn’t bear up to much analysis (that line about the rhesus monkey for example – it turns out they never do have to teach anyone how to direct). And in an age dedicated to authenticity, it seems odd to reward a director who’s shown so little interest in the country whose history he’s profiting from. Compare Affleck’s utter disengagement with the political issues his film skirts over versus the love and respect Spielberg has been eloquently expresing for Lincoln. Please, please, ye Oscar gods, anything but Argo!

  28. acmilan03c1
    February 4, 2013

    Actually, Koles, there is a second film, The Informer (1935), that won both Best Director and Best Actor but lost Best Picture. That one, however, wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, so I think your stat is valid. Anyway, overall, even if you don’t take into account whether those films were nominated for Best Picture or not, then the winners of BD+BA have won BP 21 out of 23 times.

    Sasha, I think you’re giving up way too fast. I agree that if Argo wins the WGA as well, then we pretty much have to admit it’s the favorite (but even then it’s NOWHERE NEAR over, Lincoln and even Life of Pi still have a decent shot to upset, certainly much better than any film had at the last two Oscar ceremonies), but before that I think it’s premature. Braveheart hadn’t won any of its major Best Picture precursors either, just like Lincoln, and then it won the Eddie and the WGA (for which Apollo 13 was also nominated) and went on to win Best Picture. Braveheart wasn’t even nominated for any SAGs or the PGA… Therefore, it was in an even worse position to win and, nevertheless, the Director snub proved more important.
    No, Argo is nowhere near a lock and never will be until it actually wins, if that is indeed what will happen. I think it is not. There are at least 4 different very strong stats (that I know of) going against it right now and only one or two, really, going against Lincoln, both of which are not as strong as the 4 Argo has to overcome.

  29. phineas
    February 4, 2013

    spielberg simply has chosen the wrong prez.
    A entertaining movie about JFK would have given him better oscar odds.

  30. Argo
    February 4, 2013

    Let me ask you something..what makes you think it was always Lincoln vs Argo?? It may be a fact that Lincoln was never in the race and you pundits are simply hyping it for some dollars

  31. phineas
    February 4, 2013

    If Lincoln does win, that’ll be seriously depressing. It’s a film of such colossal boringness, I’m stunned it’s even being considered for all these prizes. I can’t think of a single memorable moment in the whole film. What it does have going for it is nice costumes, but even that doesn’t bear up to much analysis. And in an age dedicated to authenticity, it seems odd to reward a director just because he made a movie about a president everybody like. Compare Spielberg’s boring presentation of history versus the love and respect Afflect has been eloquently expresing for Hollywood. Please, please, ye Oscar gods, anything but Lincoln! ;)

  32. Koleś
    February 4, 2013

    12 Oscar noms, 10 BAFTA noms, 7 Globe Noms, 4 SAG noms (2 wins) DGA, WGA, PGA, ASC, ACE, ADG, CAS, MPSE, CDG noms. Sure, “Lincoln” was never in the race.

  33. Kane
    February 4, 2013

    “Never become Goliath”

    Unless that last name is Titanic, Return of the King, Ben-Hur…granted Titanic is still considered the bastard that took it away from L.A. Confidential and I’m not sure what Ben-Hur’s reception was like. But LOTR seemed pretty loved every way from Sunday.

  34. Andrew
    February 4, 2013

    Sasha, what happened to all your Argo love from earlier in the season? Remember that? The “parents test” is the ultimate test. My parents just saw Lincoln and they both fell asleep. They loved Argo.

  35. February 4, 2013

    12 Oscar noms, 10 BAFTA noms, 7 Globe Noms, 4 SAG noms (2 wins) DGA, WGA, PGA, ASC, ACE, ADG, CAS, MPSE, CDG noms. Sure, “Lincoln” was never in the race.

    Lincoln was in the race until Argo was not. Which made Argo the David and Lincoln the Goliath. Which now puts Argo back at the front of the race.

  36. Koleś
    February 4, 2013

    I still don’t buy that “Argo” is in front. That pesky director snub is too big of a deal. If the BAFTA embrace Affleck then I’ll be sure. Lots of things suggest that the Brits will go for it, like that acting nod. But until then I say it’s far from over. BAFTAs and Eddies might well turn the tide, especially the screenplay awards (BAFTAS match the Oscars 9 out of 10).

  37. Zach
    February 4, 2013

    After everything, it would be kind of shocking for Argo to lose. Even Brokeback lost SAG. Argo could (and should) still lose WGA, but it’s not as important. It’s way ahead of where Apollo 13 and The Color Purple were at this stage of the race.

  38. AJ
    February 4, 2013

    Lincoln is a snooze; SLP deserves best picture and Jennifer Lawrence hands down the Best Actress.

  39. Apocalypse Pooh
    February 4, 2013

    Spielberg is hated for his success, for his goodness, for his sentiment, and most importantly, for his freakish talent. It’s like Mozart and Salieri. Spielberg reminds people of their own failures, and legions of people in the industry hate him for it. They can’t prevent Spielberg from making movies, they can’t stop moviegoers from loving and appreciating his work, but they sure as hell can deny him Oscars. Until the torture controversey, everyone was running behind Zero Dark 30, but when that went south, instead of breaking for Lincoln, they all went to the next, easiest choice. Anything but Spielberg. No wonder Amadeus won all those Oscars. It told the truth about people and their petty vicious envy.

  40. Alfredo
    February 4, 2013

    Don’t you think that David would be Silver Linings Playbook?

  41. February 4, 2013

    Like Sasha, I am a huge admirer of Lincoln and believe it to be the years best film in a tie with Zero Dark Thirty, though the Academy would do such a thing — Spielberg would take my Best Director award because of the choices he made with the film to focus on performance and writing, a bold move for a director known for his visual genius — I am so tired of the Spielberg bashing and hating, which seems to be specifically led by critics and writers on the web, Jeffrey Welles among them — I admire Mr. Welles and his work, but must say his attacks on Lincoln and Spielberg have disgusted me — I thought the days of Spielberg bashing were long gone, forever eliminated with the emergence of Schindler’s List (1993) — what a shame to be gifted and have the films one makes make money — but wait, truly great films are to play in dusty art houses with an audience of 12., is that correct?? — what does it say about the contempt some critics have for audiences that they go after a film that is making money, and a masterpiece to boot?? Argo is a very good film, but it is not one for the ages, which I believe Lincoln to be — in twenty years they will still be talking about Lincoln, whereas Argo will be forgotten — I will not attack those who think Lincoln is a bore (you are dead wrong) or subject anyone to why I think Lincoln to be the years best, I think Sasha has beautifully covered that more than once — what shames me is being in the business where a film and its filmmaker are so relentlessly attacked for being excellent, that is their sole crime, for earning great reviews — what a shame, what a shame the Oscar race has come to such a negative, nasty mess, and I worry that we writers who cover it are part of the issue. Spielberg might win the Oscar he deserves, he might not, and Argo will likely win Best Picture, I just do not care anymore — for me Spielberg made a masterpiece, again, and nothing changes that — good on Affleck too for what he has accomplished and yes he should have been nominated for Best Director…the whole thing is shameful…

  42. Greg Robinson
    February 4, 2013

    At the nomination phase the AMPAS’ director’s branch made up its mind that Argo was not going to win Best Picture pretty much like they decided The Color Purple and Apollo 13 was not going to win. The directors’ branch may be small but it carries a lot of influence and as such the rest of the membership will follow suit. Right now Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour gave a better chance of winning Best Picture than Argo. In 1985 and 1995 Out of Africa and Braveheart had already won Best Picture. The Academy does its own thing and always has in years like this. No way will it backdown on its original stance regarding Affleck’s ‘snub’ because that will be admitting they were wrong and it will want to be seen as a group that will not be pressurised into voting according to hysterical populism. Lincoln does not need to rebound because it has already won. It will sweep to Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay Adaption in the very least. Argo will be lucky if it wins Best Film Editing.

  43. rufussondheim
    February 4, 2013

    Thanks to whomever said that Lincoln might not even be the #2 film. Sure, it got lots of tech noms, but so did Ang Lee and Life of Pi. Neither Lincoln nor Pi have been too impressive in the BP/BD precursers so putting them as the number 2 is spotty.

    Argo is the clear #1 at this point. It’s anyone’s guess who is #2. My friend who bets and always asks me for Oscar betting advice asked me about best director. David O. Russell is 14 to 1. I told him to bet that.

  44. Greg Robinson
    February 4, 2013

    Adding to the above Out of Africa and Braveheart’s wins were decided at nomination phase. Argo can sweep the Baftas and win the WGA for all I care it will not prevent the AMPAS from putting an end to this Argo awww shame poor Ben circus. They will end this insanity and Lincoln will sweep.

  45. Sasha Stone
    February 4, 2013

    Thanks to whomever said that Lincoln might not even be the #2 film. Sure, it got lots of tech noms, but so did Ang Lee and Life of Pi. Neither Lincoln nor Pi have been too impressive in the BP/BD precursers so putting them as the number 2 is spotty.

    We’ll never know. What we do know is that the nominations are decided by preferential ballot. That’s why having more nominations often counts for a lot. They have to be passionate number 1s in there, not just eh, okay, so that one. Lincoln showed up across the board because it is a passionate choice among the techs, the directors, the actors and the whole branch. But it doesn’t have any major wins in the precursors. When all was said and done, everyone thought it was a smackdown between Avatar and Hurt Locker because Avatar had won the Globe. But when the Oscars were handed out and Precious took adapted screenplay and supporting actress and Hurt Locker took both sound categories, it was clear that Argo wasn’t a favorite indeed. To be a movie like that you aren’t represented in a major branch like the actors branch. So to me this disproves your theory. Argo was decided as the race went on. Clearly after the nominations, going to show you how important publicity, buzz and momentum can be.

  46. Sasha Stone
    February 4, 2013

    Dear John Foote – thank you for your comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  47. Sasha Stone
    February 4, 2013

    Don’t you think that David would be Silver Linings Playbook?

    I would have thought so, yes. I really did think it would be a bigger player than it has been. Also, it could be the Braveheart too in the end since it has what Argo doesn’t have: a director nomination and four acting nods.

  48. mecid
    February 4, 2013

    Well said, John H. Foote.

    I am pretty sure Spielberg is getting such hate because of his success as both commercially and critically.

  49. Ben Fan
    February 4, 2013

    John Foote, if Lincoln’s writing and acting is one for the ages, then it will be recognized as such. Hasn’t it with DDL’s wins? We shall see with WGA…

  50. The Dude
    February 4, 2013

    Well said, John H. Foote.

    I haven’t seen ZDT, Les Mis and BSW, but as for the other 6, Argo and SLP are easily the ones that will be almost completely forgotten 20 years from now, unlike the other four (although Django will be seen as a minor Tarantino probably).

  51. Eric P.
    February 4, 2013


    Actually SLP was the snoozefest. What was so exciting about seeing a pretty typical love story with Bi-polar disorder sloppily tacked on to add some gravitas? The script was weak. The direction was slightly more acceptable. The performances were OK at best (Cooper nailed it, Lawrence was overrated.) Some truly great acting happened this year (i.e “Amour”, “The Master”, “Lincoln”, “Holy Motors”), yet SLP seems to be the ACTORS choice? I just don’t get it.

  52. Aaron B
    February 4, 2013


    “The Informer” was indeed nominated for Best Picture.

  53. John
    February 4, 2013

    See i think Lincoln is clearly in the top 3 and i think itll get many 1s on ballots. Many. Problem is, i see potentially more 1s for argo and/or Pi. That preferential ballot. Grr.

  54. acmilan03c1
    February 4, 2013

    ““The Informer” was indeed nominated for Best Picture.”

    Indeed, sir! I somehow managed to miss the Best Picture nomination when looking at its IMDb page… Thanks for the correction. 21/23 is still very strong.

    (Argo) “It’s way ahead of where Apollo 13 and The Color Purple were at this stage of the race.”

    Huh?! Apollo 13 was second in nominations with 9 to Braveheart’s 10. Argo is fifth with 7 to Lincoln’s 12. Apollo 13 won two Oscars EVEN THOUGH it lost Best Picture. As for Argo, people are seriously considering the possibility that it might win just the one Oscar, for Best Picture, that’s how much “ahead” of Apollo 13 it is. Apollo 13 wasn’t even up against any opponent that had hit every single important precursor (nomination-wise), as is the case with Lincoln.
    No matter how many irrelevant precursors it wins (read: Globes, BFCA, which are about as useful for predicting Best Picture as any other random award, since you can at best say they get it right about 60% of the time), Argo isn’t even close to being in a better position than Apollo 13 was. It’s strong, but not that strong. Not yet.
    Now, like I said, if it wins the WGA it will become the favorite for Best Original Screenplay a the Oscars, and then it’s probably in slightly (and I do mean slightly) better shape than Apollo 13. Remember, no film has won Best Picture without a win in either directing, writing, or acting in 72 years. And, newsflash: Arkin ain’t winnin’! Also, no film has won Best Picture with just one other Oscar since The Greatest Show on Earth, 60 years ago.
    I mean, you guys are making Argo the favorite because it’s winning stuff, but at the same time you ignore the stats and how important the things it’s NOT winning or getting nominated for are. I can understand saying the stats are irrelevant and anything can happen, but if you’re going to use the stats to make Argo’s case, use ALL of the stats, not just those that suit you, OK? And when you do, you’ll see that it’s not at all clear who the favorite is right now.

  55. acmilan03c1
    February 4, 2013

    …”at” the Oscars I mean, of course.

  56. JP
    February 4, 2013

    “Argo is suicidal for Oscar ratings long term, given the current schedule. One month of people knowing the outcome of your telecasts?”

    You are right. As much as I prefer Lincoln to win, this opinion has nothing to do with audiences liking more Argo than Lincoln or Lincoln than Argo. It’s the whole proliferation and polarizing outcome almost every awards season had in the past decade and the sense that smart studio films focused with an adult target don’t bring box office that is killing the Oscars ratings. 2012 proved the last part doesn’t apply always… but the first part is stronger than ever this year. As I wrote in another post, this is the 6th consecutive year PGA and DGA have gone to the same film. The proliferation of awards is by far the biggest killer of the awards. We basically know every year who is winning BP. And unless this film is called Titanic or The Return of the King, general public doesn’t care about watching a show. As far as I remember, in the past, the Academy Awards ratings were half the ratings of Super Bowl. Nowadays, it’s 20%.

  57. dp
    February 4, 2013

    Goliath asked Bill Clinton to introduce Lincoln at the Globes. Goliath also screened Lincoln at the White House- releasing photos of DDL in Lincoln’s room. This film campaigned as the pre-eminent film of the year (i.e. it became the ‘establishment’ nominee) directed by one of the Goliaths.

    Meanwhile, you have the awe-shucks, everyday working man Affleck winning everything (the “stealth campaign). Remember though that he won 2 major awards for both pic and director without the influence of the Oscar snub (Critics and Globes)- 2 awards that could have gone easily to Lincoln.

  58. February 4, 2013

    I have to agree with dp. As well, the commentor who pointed out the Goliath that was LOTR. No David prevailed there. And one could argue that No Country, The Artist and Slumdog as David’s without Goliaths. Gladiator .. LOL … Was a David in search of a Goliath.

    However, I do think Argo and Lincoln fit the narrative a little better. The Hurt Locker, a film championed by critics fits the mold with Avatar even better. Same with The Aviator and MDB.

    Great theory, but doesn’t apply as often as postulated.

  59. tr
    February 4, 2013

    If the awards race was really about which movie is the best instead of politics then we wouldn’t see so many guild sweeps year in and year out. It’s simply not probable for guilds comprised of thousands of people to agree across the board nearly every year.

  60. Byron E. Gray
    February 4, 2013

    I think the majority of academy members decided to vote for Argo a long time ago. Why? For the simple reason Argo puts Hollywood in a good light; it makes the industry look noble for saving lives. I don’t think the recent glut of awards for Argo is a pity party for Affleck. I think the rest of the academy’s branches were as surprised as everyone else that he wasn’t nominated by the directors branch. I think they intended vote for Argo all along.

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