Two Different Kinds of People: Ken Taylor and Joe Courtney

Courtney

After listening to the Dick Gordon podcast of one of the houseguests in Iran (they weren’t hostages) only then did I realize the role that Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor played in both keeping the Americans safe and in enlisting the CIA to get them home. I get that Argo tells the story from the point of view of Tony Mendez and I get that Mendez never got any credit for that mission because it was classified but the movie makes it out like Mendez was the hero and not Taylor.

So you can see why Ken Taylor, after seeing the film in Toronto (I’m guessing this is maybe the reason Argo didn’t win the audience award) is miffed. I’d have been miffed too if I’d spent many months sheltering and sometimes driving the guests to a different location when Iranians were coming to call. I’d also be pissed if, the way the guy tells it to Dick Gordon, it wasn’t that big of deal, this fake movie business, and all they really did was go to the airport and get a plane. Sure, they were scared — but they were told to look at Mendez’ face and see if he smiled or frowned. He smiled, they got on the plane and flew away.

But did Taylor huff and puff and demand that Affleck “change the movie” just as Oscar ballots were sailing into voters mailboxes? Did he say that Affleck has “tarnished the reputation of Canada forever!” Did he get a Maureen Dowd shout-out or have every outlet online cover the story?  He did protest but very quickly after that Ben Affleck met with Taylor, added a note at the end of Argo, invited Taylor and his wife to the premiere and such — it seemed as though the issue was handled.

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By contrast, the Spielberg camp never approached Joe Courtney to try to try to work out any compromise but probably because Courtney came out guns blazing, talking to anyone who would listen and making a big deal about the part in the movie where a Connecticut congressman votes no instead of yes on the 13th amendment.

The press feasted on the Spielberg story but the part about it taking place right as ballots were being sent out to Oscar voters? Nothing.  Flatline.  No one wanted to rain on the Argo parade, least of all the American press. Only Melena Ryzik at the NY Times and Steven Zeitchik at the LA Times even thought to ask about the Oscar angle.

It isn’t the role of any politician, even one endorsed by Ben Affleck, to keep quiet in hopes of not ruining 13 years of hard work by Spielberg, 6 years of research and writing by Tony Kushner — Courtney felt its his duty as a citizen to expose Spielberg before Oscar voters are tricked into voting for that movie!  Courtney was not obligated to care. But the differences between the two men and how they handled themselves this year, and perhaps how the different film campaigns themselves handled the whipped up “controversies,”  is striking.

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Does it make Argo a worse movie because it wasn’t really telling us the truth? No. Does it make Lincoln a worse movie because Connecticut actually voted yes on the amendment? Nope.  At the end of the day Argo is about Tony Mendez. The movie only had room for one hero.  Argo is more of an original screenplay based very loosely on real events, most of it is made up from whole cloth.  It’s not about the truth – it’s about painting the CIA and Hollywood as good guys who saved the day once in the 1970s.  It had to create the kinds of myths Hollywood movies are made on – one rogue CIA agent doing the right thing and bringing the Americans home.  And looked at how well it worked – it’s about to make Academy history by winning Best Picture.

Lincoln is partly about the historical events surrounding the 13th amendment but it is much more about our lives today, here in America. It is about what equality means, how hard it is to recognize first and then how hard it is to fight for it.  It is about changing minds by first changing the law.  No one in Connecticut at that time and for a very long time after believed in equality — voting yes or no on the amendment doesn’t change that.

Do we really want our artists now to not tell these stories for fear of Joe Courtney or Maureen Dowd beat-down if the facts aren’t 100% correct?  Do we really want to choke yet more life out of American storytellers until there really is nothing left but the most bland of useless films that take no risks at all for fear of ensuing hysteria?

Every year I hear dirt on Oscar contenders. I see things I shouldn’t see. I know things I shouldn’t know.   Those things are usually kept quiet until long after the Oscars – breakups, affairs, divorces, tax fraud.  Oscars are about perception and the fleeting delusion that “best” can really be determined in such a short time.  If the Oscars were about the movies there wouldn’t be ads. Contenders wouldn’t need to kiss babies.  But we all know it is about more than that.  So congratulations to Joe Courtney on his October surprise.

Affleck is bewildered by Ken Taylor speaking out about it now, “I admire Ken very much for his role in rescuing the six houseguests. I consider him a hero.In light of my many conversations as well as a change to an end card that Ken requested I am surprised that Ken continues to take issue with the film,” he said. “I spoke to him recently when he asked me to narrate a documentary he is prominently featured in and yet he didn’t mention any lingering concerns.I agreed to do it and I look forward to seeing Ken at the recording.”

From my perspective they’re lucky to have dealt with a guy like Taylor.  It could have been much, much worse.

Maybe no one takes the Oscars seriously enough to be bothered with the dirty tricks. After all, what does it matter in the end? The rich get richer, the movie stars get a lot of publicity and the rabble gets to look on in wild worship at all of their beautiful heroes. The stakes are low and the egos are high. But I’ll walk away from Oscars 2012 knowing the difference between a Ken Taylor and a Joe Courtney.

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60 Comments

  1. February 23, 2013

    it’s about an ordinary man doing extraordinary things, it’s about trust, courage, fear and freedom.

    Which would be awesome if it wasn’t all a lie.

    President Jimmy Carter said on CNN two nights ago: “90% of the contributions to the idea and consummation of the plan was Canadian but Argo gives full credit to the CIA.”

    Argo is about “trust and courage”? only insofar as Argo says “trust me” and then has the balls to spin 2 hours of bullshit.

  2. CB
    February 23, 2013

    No one in Connecticut at that time and for a very long time after believed in equality — voting yes or no on the amendment doesn’t change that.

    Except the entire delegation that voted to ratify the amendment…? Also, I think that is one of the great blanket statements of our time.

    The press feasted on the Spielberg story

    Where? All I saw were a few online articles that had Rep. Courtney’s quote and then Kushner’s rebuttal. What ‘feasting’?

  3. CB
    February 23, 2013

    BTW I’m not an Argo fan (it was fine, unspectacular, and is getting way too much credit for basic competence) but come on – this Oscar narrative only exists to those who seem to create it. Sasha, you keep getting mad that Affleck is a likable guy who uses his likability and is being rewarded for it. I genuinely think he’s just a dude who’s looking to avoid anyone getting hurt – and that the Oscars are just a game to him anyway. He probably wants one, but he actually seems very healthily unemotional about the whole thing.

  4. Kai
    February 23, 2013

    ….And that’s why you can’t take Argo to Canada.

  5. CMG
    February 23, 2013

    I actually think Taylor would be such a better ambassador (no pun intended) for the movie than Mendez. Not just because Mendez while on the press tours for this film comes off a little uninteresting, it is the fact he has publicly said he was glad this film was made to have the CIA as ‘the good guys’ unlike those Bourne movies that he hates because they are what the public sees of the CIA (really). I find that a little problematic, especially when the film has the Iran Hostage Crisis as a backdrop and the CIA unable to see the Iranian Revolution coming is one of the great pre-9/11 intelligence failures in the history of the agency (and that is saying a lot). This is briefly mentioned, by a British intel officer (a little convenient that it is a foreigner) to Mendez in the movie, but it does not seem like the CIA portrayed in the movie has any regard for this mistake beyond rescuing the hostages (or rather, these six individuals) even as the prologue shows their agency planted the seeds for blowback in Iran.

    And even as a Zero Dark Thirty partisan it is a blessing and a curse that the real Maya is still undercover. Blessing because if you read the Washington Post profile of her, that does sound a lot like Maya in the film, she comes off as a real handful to deal with on a personal and professional level, to be polite. I mean, she never even got promoted after this. Can’t imagine if she was able to go out publicly that the filmmakers would actually want this as the public face of the movie, especially in the portrayal that I would not necessarily agree with people who think she is this special strong female character. She’s problematic, interesting, and complicated as hell. There is definitely some privilege for the filmmakers in having her undercover because I doubt she would have completely approved of the portrayal and the filmmakers would have to try to work a composite out. Yet when I say a curse, it is actually pretty amusing that even with this stuff comes out about the real person, people still think moments in the movie come off as a ‘movie moment’ despite some of these scenes actually had happened. I heard an Oscars podcast where the entire panel (who were all exhausted by the movie and just ‘admired’ it) said they were turned off by the ending and how it was disrespectful to the character and Jessica Chastain. Except the crying on the plane really did happen. Same with the writing the days on the wall scenes. The filmmakers and actors have brought this up but only in midst of people believing certain moments were made up about her as if to place her as a ‘lone-wolf’ on purpose as if to have some underlying feminist message among other bunk thrown at the film.

  6. February 23, 2013

    The public knows that the CIA and our beloved CANADA worked together on this. Who put more sweat into it? Canada… and we know this.

    You know this? Can you remember where you learned it? I’m not trying to argue. Just really curious how you came by the knowledge that the Argo mission was Canada’s idea, Canada’s plan.

    What do you think most Americans know about the Argo scheme and where do you believe most Americans found out what they think they know?

    You seem to have a good source for your knowledge about how things really happened. So I’m curious to know if you think the 20 million Americans who bought a ticket to Argo have the same good information that you do. I’m asking in all sincerity.

  7. filmboymichael
    February 23, 2013

    Listen, Sasha isn’t wrong and she’s not an Argo bully – I believe that she quite liked it….what I think happened here, is that this controversy surrounding the truth of Argo came out before its theatrical release.

    It was big news here in Toronto during TIFF because of the liberties it has taken as to how much responsibility the US had in this mission (not very much at all. Tony Mendez, I believe went to Iran for a day). What I think happened here, was the spin machine went into overdrive and Affleck and co. acknowledged the Canadian involvement. Was it enough? We’ll find out tomorrow.

    I think had this information come out last week and not 3 months ago, the movie would be in big trouble. It also had the Zero Dark Thirty controversy which helped all the films deflect.

  8. filmboymichael
    February 23, 2013

    I also do think that Affleck handled the whole situation with tact and class – inviting the Taylors to LA to view the film and including them on the DVD extras is really a classy thing to do.

  9. CMG
    February 23, 2013

    Sasha had Argo in her top 10 and believed Affleck should have gotten a director nomination. She is just turned off by the industry-wide pandering and poor Ben attitude that happened to the movie.

    Kushner’s response included the fact those voters who voted NO had their names changed to not specifically attack any congress person’s record on the 13th amendment. So he changed nobody’s specific vote but, yes, on the record the film has Connecticut having two NO votes. But let’s be real, if Courtney cared THAT much about accuracy, would he not have looked up those names in some database that holds the historical record of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation and realize these members did not exist? Why did he not do this in December or very early in 2013? I mean Congress had recess in that time period, not like he had much to do anyways.

    And I agree with Ryan. Argo’s advantage was people, even those who lived in the period, really did not know much about the story, unlike the 13 amendment passage or even the UBL manhunt. They knew about the crisis, they knew about the failed attempts like Operation Eagle Claw (that really hurt Carter), and the end of it. The story was very minor and I would say because it was not American-focused but rather, a Canadian-led mission that nobody paid mind to it either at the time. It had little to do with it being something classified by the CIA (especially in the age of FOIA when people then were allowed to make requests on such classified info) because the CIA’s role was again, minor in an already very minor rescue mission.

  10. Sasha Stone
    February 23, 2013

    Sasha, you keep getting mad that Affleck is a likable guy who uses his likability

    Keep getting mad? No. Just pointing out what an asset it can be on the campaign trail.

  11. Sasha Stone
    February 23, 2013

    Except the entire delegation that voted to ratify the amendment…?

    You’re saying that every congressman who voted yes believed in equality? Did you know that it took a federal override for Connecticut to change its state constitution that prevented the black vote after the civil war?

  12. CB
    February 23, 2013

    I did know that – but you also said, “No one in Connecticut at that time and for a very long time after believed in equality — voting yes or no on the amendment doesn’t change that.”

    Do you really believe that?

  13. February 23, 2013

    –No one in Connecticut at that time and for a very long time after believed in equality — voting yes or no on the amendment doesn’t change that.

    – Except the entire delegation that voted to ratify the amendment…?

    Read the Amendment. It’s not about “equality.” Equality isn’t part of it. Just read the friggen Amendment. It’s like 30 words.

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Anybody who watched the movie might have noticed the hoops Thaddeus Stevens was forced to jump through in order to AVOID saying anything about equality.

    You know, Kushner sort of MADE THAT THE WHOLE POINT OF ALL THOSE SCENES WITH THADDEUS STEVENS. sorry to yell, but yeesh, that was the entire reason behind Stevens’ own personal crisis. THE NECESSITY of AVOIDING talk of EQUALITY in order to the GET THE AMENDMENT PASSED.

    If you missed that, then you missed a major message of the film.

  14. Christophe
    February 23, 2013

    Shake the Vote: Who should win at Oscars? – Today Entertainment

    http://todayentertainment.today.com/_news/2013/02/22/17057540-vote-who-should-win-at-oscars?lite

    BP: Lincoln 34%, Argo 34%, SLP 9%
    BD: Spielberg 63%, Lee 18%, Russell 14%
    BAM: DDL 66%, Jackman 11%
    BAF: Jlaw 44%, Chastain 26%
    BSAM: Jones 40%, De Niro 24%, Waltz 14%
    BSAF: Hathaway 47%, Field 37%

  15. CB
    February 23, 2013

    I understood it Ryan – my issue is that Sasha said, “No one in Connecticut at that time and for a very long time after believed in equality — voting yes or no on the amendment doesn’t change that.”

    Does she actually believe that?

  16. February 23, 2013

    I’m not sure how Courtney (who, I agree, was at best extremely ungracious) “ruined 13 years of hard work by Spielberg, 6 years of research and writing by Tony Kushner”.

    Unless the endgame was not make a good movie (which I think they did), but win the Best Pitcure award.

  17. Simone
    February 23, 2013

    Why was my comment deleted?

  18. February 23, 2013

    I understand your point too, CB. We might have avoided this particular sticking point if the line had been worded “Almost no one in Connecticut…” or “Very few people in Connecticut…”

    But to answer your question upfront: I do not think Sasha believes that there was not one single person in the entire state of Connecticut who believed in equality.

    But it’s a common idiom to say “no one” and “nobody” when we might not really mean that literally.

    Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
    Trust No One!
    Nobody loves me anymore…
    (ok, that last one, bad example)

  19. CB
    February 23, 2013

    That’s fair. To be honest, I was being a bit of a lawyer there.

  20. JamDenTel
    February 23, 2013

    Wait, this movie wasn’t about corn starch?

  21. eclipse22
    February 23, 2013

    ughh i wrote something long, but as i opened another tab to research an expression to be sure how it was written and used i accidentally close the awards daily’s one and thus lost my comment

    on that subject why don’t you guys have an auto-save feature? i’ve seen it on many forums where if you accidentally change pages or category you can go back and your message will reappear when you click on said feature!

    many a great passionate plea of mine have been lost this way on your site sighhh

    vivement dimanche! sunday night can’t come soon enough one way or the other i’ll be glad its done with

  22. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    I think it’s funny that so many people online were complaining that Lincoln was just ‘a boring history lesson’ and now suddenly they care about HISTORY in all its minute details.
    I really believe that if those two votes had represented a southern state, the consensus would have been ‘so?’
    It’s a non-argument. If you want to look deep enough, others have pointed out that Connecticut was one of the south’s most active proponents of southern slave ownership. It’s revisionist wishful-thinking on the part of a state that sees itself as progressive.
    Detractors of Lincoln only had a few nitpicky things to bitch about: ‘Soldiers wouldn’t have possibly memorized the most important, popular, reprinted words during the war by it’s beloved president! What were Spielberg and Kushner thinking?’
    Courtney’s ‘revelation’ just gave them a concrete, if lazy, hazy excuse to cry ‘historically inaccuracy’!
    Like they gave a shyte before about the righteous people of Connecticut and HISTORY.
    Others have followed Sasha and Ryan’s lead in asking real questions about the ARGO LOVE.
    At Time, Corliss relates some interesting anecdotes about the Affleck tack of media manipulation and ass-kissing that sheds an unsavory light onto the Argo campaign. And other critics have openly called an Argo win flat-out wrong. AD was the first and most passionate, but Sasha and Ryan are representing a real sense of a collective “WTF?” among commentators and film fans. As Peter Travers said: ‘Is Lincoln a better movie than Argo? You bet.”
    And if we’re nitpicking about facts: The Rolling Stones’ “Little T&A” didn’t even come out until late 1981 – and a viewer, and as a music HISTORY expert, that is a travesty. I mean, if you’re going to pump up your movie with a cool soundtrack – get it right?

  23. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    eclipse22,
    I’ve been trying to post one comment for the last half-hour for the same reason!
    I hate when that happens because by the time you write your fourth post, you’re passion has lost of its steam. It’s never as good as the first one!

  24. Pierre de Plume
    February 23, 2013

    Regardless of how one feels about the inaccuracies of either Argo or Lincoln, and regardless of whether you think the inaccuracies of one is more aggregious than the other, it’s sad that one film – Lincoln – took more devastating media hits. The hit pieces against Lincoln — and yes, they surfaced mainstream, not just an online source here or there — seemed ill-advised and calculated and gathered steam because of the misguided notions and gullibility of those who should’ve known better. (One example: Maureen Dowd of the NY Times.)

    Argo hasn’t even won yet and there’s already buyer’s remorse for pete’s sake.

  25. Question Mark
    February 23, 2013

    I take all historical revisionism in art as rote. After all, Shakespeare took plenty of liberties in writing about Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra, Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, etc. but nobody argues that those factual inaccuracies kept those plays from being amongst the greatest ever written.

    As I’ve noted in a past post, literally the only place I’ve heard about this Joe Courtney controversy is here on Awards Daily. As opposed to the Argo controversy, which was everywhere where the movie came out (granted, I’m Canadian, so we heard more about it). Lincoln simply didn’t capture people’s imaginations; its momentum had faltered long before Courtney opened his mouth.

    Sasha, you are very much a proponent of the belief that every Best Picture be “important” or should in some way reflect America’s/the world’s mood during that year. I don’t agree — this is the kind of thinking that leads to weak movies like Mrs. Miniver winning in 1942. I could care less about a film’s direct relevance to its time, I just want to see the best (or, at least, a very good) movie win the top prize.

  26. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    QuestionMark,
    Can I ask:
    Exactly when did Lincoln fail to “capture people’s imaginations”?
    Because I believe that myth has become an easy catch-phrase for its detractors….
    The Industry is one thing because alot of other things come into play…but a generalized ‘people’ is quite another.
    BTW, Lincoln has made at least 50mill more than Lincoln. Where are all these statements of ‘you know, Lincoln was ok, but it just didn’t ‘capture my imagination’
    Its a knock based on nothing to back it up.

  27. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    Lincoln has made at least 50 mill more than Argo…

  28. February 23, 2013

    Yvette, eclipse22 — so sorry to hear your thoughts got lost. it’s happened to me before too. we’ve all been there. I try to remember to at least copy lengthy things periodically to clipboard in case of glitch but we always forget to back up when we really need to.

    the more fancy features we plug into the comments and on the main page, the more bandwidth strain it puts on the server. and that leads to slow page loading or sporadic site crashes on high traffic nights . but we’ll keep this problem in mind when the site undergoes it’s annual remodeling in a few weeks.

  29. eclipse22
    February 23, 2013

    felipe, me neither, me neither….

    it reminds me of laying blame for this or that anywhere but square on your own doorsteps

    if spielberg and supporters believe they made the best film they could possibly make after years of research and pre-production , then good on them and to hell with detractors and naysayers, the baby is out in the world and its a harsh place!
    i know this to be true otherwise i’d protest even more passionately at the things sasha repeatedly says about ARGO but we’re talking movies here and not some life or death situation!

    anyhoo i’ll be watching life of pi today i’m determined to see it before oscar night or else it might not happen in the foreseeable feature! i’m not in the least interested in seeing it but i’ve heard nothing but nice things about it!

  30. eclipse22
    February 23, 2013

    thanks ryan, hmmm i see the problem ! As it is AD takes a good 20 seconds to load anyway but i don’t fret about it because im aware of all the features around the posts !
    well see what you can do , i’ll try to be more careful on my side and do as you suggested next year! :)

  31. Pierre de Plume
    February 23, 2013

    Exactly when did Lincoln fail to “capture people’s imaginations”?

    Yvette, you beat me to the punch! :)

  32. steve50
    February 23, 2013

    Thanks for posting this, Sasha.

    Affleck did handle it with class. It was a simple “calling-on-the-carpet” complaint regarding content, resolved in a reasonable, polite fashion. We all know it’s just a movie and are frankly not surprised how the focus was changed to suit a more exciting (and patriotic) storyline. It happens all the time. The twinge in the butt, however, comes from the fact that this very fictional recreation is about to be declared Best Picture, which is a little hard to swallow.

    Far worse were the attacks of Lincoln and ZDT smacked of politics, Oscar and otherwise, and you can’t shout over a mad dog. Affleck should consider himself extremely lucky that the facts are only important when they effect the “homeland.”

  33. Pierre de Plume
    February 23, 2013

    Exactly when did Lincoln fail to “capture people’s imaginations”?

    Addendum: Lincoln garnered 12 imagination-capturing Oscar nominations. And here’s some international box office numbers for comparison:

    Life of Pi: $466.2 mil
    Brave: $298.1 mil
    Les Miserables: $215 mil
    Django Unchained: $208.6 mil
    Argo: $77.1 mil
    Lincoln: $59 mil
    Flight: $45.4 mil

    Argo is doing better than Lincoln overseas but neither is a blockbuster outside the USA. Note the numbers for some of their best picture co-nominees.

  34. NIc V
    February 23, 2013

    Ben Affleck needs to send President Jimmy Carter a gift. I just listened to President Carter who asked how he felt about Argo and Mr. Carter stated that he hoped the film would win Best Picture. Then Mr. Carter was asked his recollections of the events surrounding the hiding Americans in the Canadian Embassy. Mr. Carter stated that most of the organization and orchestration for getting those American’s out of the Canadian Embassy was due to Canadian efforts. Mr. Carter then followed up with this quip “Other than that the rest of the film is pretty accurate.” So Ben gets dodge the bullets that Zero couldn’t dodge with the Torture Issue and Lincoln couldn’t dodge with the CT vote issue. Nice to have this come out after the ballots are already a done deal and the NY Times can’t be don’t front page cover stories. And I just got this from CNN telephone interview between their reporter and President Carter.

  35. w.j.
    February 23, 2013

    Ryan, you wonder who said Canada put more sweat into the mission in Iran? How about your president, Jimmy Carter? Why don’t you listen to him? Would he not be very close to the mission? I would find it very sad if Argo wins best film, especially considering it is such a complete distortion of the truth, and because Lincoln is a much superior film (as are Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi and Amour). Why has this issue been so completely ignored when Zero Dark Thirty was raked over the coals on the issue of torture? I remember the true history of the event depicted in Argo quite vividly and how thankful the U.S. was for Canadá’s involvement in helping to save the lives of its citizens. How could the distortion of this truth NOT be an important issue?

  36. Nic V
    February 23, 2013

    ***You seem to have a good source for your knowledge about how things really happened. So I’m curious to know if you think the 20 million Americans who bought a ticket to Argo have the same good information that you do. I’m asking in all sincerity.***

    Had I started reading the full article I wouldn’t have repeated what Ryan said initially. I mean I knew the Canadians were involved but not too the extent that Jimmy Carter finally admits too. I also agree this doesn’t diminish the film but …and this is a big damn but….you can’t play the game one way and then pull cards out of the other players hands and pretend that you did something you didn’t. That annoys me. I had not heard the full interview with Carter and only just got the snipet where he was asked who orchestrated the escape and his answer just stunned me. I think it’s damn shame that Zero and Lincoln got shredded and no one says anything about the little train that could until the train is in station.

  37. February 23, 2013

    First, I’d like to say that, if it weren’t for this web site, I’d be feeling very alone in this world in my suffering great frustration over Argo beating Lincoln in every awards ceremony up to this weekend. So thank you, Sasha and Ryan!(And even if Argo beats Lincoln tomorrow night, it won’t be as bad for me as it would have been without awardsdaily.com. On the other hand, I’m not watching the ceremonies. After all, I’m not a masochist!)

    Secondly, I, too, saw the entire Jimmy Carter interview and was floored to learn how completely off Argo’s depiction of the events was. I mean, I already knew that most of the movie was, at best, an exaggeration of real events, and that the screenplay used one trick after another to heighten a suspense that wasn’t actually there. But I didn’t realize that the mission really was almost all Canada’s vision and effort. Talk about distorting the story! Now I wish that the movie had actually been told from the Canadian perspective. Such a movie wouldn’t have gotten all the American ultra-patriots in an extended, months-long, love-tizzy, and winning the Best Picture Oscar would have been a lot less unlikely. But it probably would have been a more challenging film to write and bring to life, and a better film overall.

    Finally, I see that a question I posted on another thread (about backlash against some Oscar winners) was pretty much bleeped over. It occurred to me some time after I’d posted it that it probably came off as snarky and/or rhetorical, and I’m sorry if it did. What I’d asked was whether there might be a backlash against Lincoln if it only won Best Director but not Best Picture. I asked the question only because I’m not really sure I understand how these backlashes develop.

  38. February 23, 2013

    I meant to say that if Argo had been told from the Canadian perspective, it would have been a lot less likely to win the Oscar for Best Picture, rather than a lot less unlikely….

  39. February 23, 2013

    Ryan, you wonder who said Canada put more sweat into the mission in Iran? How about your president, Jimmy Carter? Why don’t you listen to him?

    w.j. I think you misunderstood me. I’ve been tweeting the Jimmy Carter remarks for the past 36 hours — and 4 hours before you scold me for not listening to Jimmy Carter I quoted him again on this page about 35 comments above you. We’re on the same side of the issue, ok?

    Check the first comment at the top of this column.

  40. February 23, 2013

    Simone, Wasn’t me who deleted you, but probably the adjectives that you were using to describe us were the reason.

    How would it be if somebody insulted you with those words? You might appreciate a comment being deleted that directly insulted you, right?

  41. February 23, 2013

    “Lincoln has made at least 50 mill more than Argo…”

    Yvette, it’s actually less than 50M. It’s $49.5M. And, I only point that out because once Argo wins Best Picture, it’s going to close that gap a bit more.

    And, worldwide, the difference is only $31M currently, but Argo came out first, so Lincoln has the advantage there.

  42. February 23, 2013

    Yvette, it’s actually less than 50M. It’s $49.5M. And, I only point that out because once Argo wins Best Picture, it’s going to close that gap a bit more.

    Argo was released on Blu-ray/DVD last Tuesday, Feb 19. Its box-office has just about topped out.

    :(

  43. dkeba
    February 23, 2013

    It was RIDICULOUS (sorry for yelling) that first time Benh Zeitlin (had to look it up, what a pretentious way to spell Ben) got a director nod. I hope ZD30, Argo or Les Mis win just to stick it to the directors branch. They should not be allowed to dictate who gets best picture. No way, no how was Beast of the Southern Wild EVER in consideration to win best picture. That vote was just a waste, as was the one for the foreign dude since he will get foreign picture and everybody knows that was just another wasted nomination. They should just do away with the whole directors nomination process and just give best director to whoever wins best picture.

  44. February 23, 2013

    RIDICULOUS that first time Benh Zeitlin (had to look it up, what a pretentious way to spell Ben) got a director nod. ..They should just do away with the whole directors nomination process and just give best director to whoever wins best picture.

    …says somebody who thinks the word “whomever” is pretentious

  45. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    Vince,
    If Argo came out first – and it came out a long time ago, shouldn’t it be farther ahead in gross if it is indeed the Most Beloved Film of the Year? Lincoln is still in wide release and continues to perform well nearly three and a half months after it’s release.
    Argo is still playing catch up. Like months after it’s release, everybody had to be reminded that Argo was the film people were most passionate about.

  46. February 23, 2013

    I was suprised how little the film took cognizance of the Canadian role in general, but it is a well known fact that Canada itself prefers officially to take a quieter role, preserving its appearance of independence from the US (at least before Harper), while, for the most part, being very willing to co-operate to the highest degree in all the important things. This allows Canada to play intermediary roles in some situations – the Iranian situation being a good example. In a way, it’s business as usual. But I personally feel a bit miffed myself about the degree to which Taylor’s role was diminished.

  47. February 23, 2013

    Sorry, Yvette, I’m only dealing with the numbers. Please follow along. This site reported on Argo’s remarkable box-office showing back in October. Even more remarkable: it bumped up its screens to make $17M+ more (almost half its budget) after Oscar nods. Lincoln, which benefitted from the holiday season, and having been released one mother after Argo (being one month “fresher”), has also made an additional $32M+. Right now, Argo has been leading Lincoln for the last three weekends. And, them are the facts.

    But, as Ryan shared, its DVD release should theoretically siphon most of the gas left in its box-office take.

  48. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    Every nominated film gets a bump – my point remains: Lincoln was THE movie to see this season. Argo had its run, didn’t pass Lincoln throughout its first release duration…thems the facts.

  49. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    Besides Vince, Argo is the greatest film of all time. Lincoln a boring, history lesson that people just feel passionate about. And its still ahead of Argo.

  50. Yvette
    February 23, 2013

    Meant to say Lincoln is just a boring history lesson people DON’T feel passionate about….
    and it’s still ahead of Argo.

  51. CMG
    February 23, 2013

    This kind of reveal by President Carter is pretty convenient in timing. But nobody in the US had as much high-stakes as say the people on the Hill and Langley who attacked Zero Dark Thirty (should that have not have signaled how the filmmakers were much more uncompromising in their portrait than being painted as propagandists?). When the Canadians complained it was mostly met with shrugs and a lot sneers from people who did not seem to mind the jingoism in Argo. It was a small story that had little to do with America. But Affleck wanted to amplify the involvement and the story while making the only US people involved, the CIA who share the blame and burden for what happened to Iran, as the good-guys in addition to Hollywood. Nobody sees this problem because it is of the past, it is a small story, and it is a pandering film that went for entertainment value. But it is dishonest about its era of the past, even looking at how Argo treats the CIA versus what films like Three Days of the Condor or Missing treated the CIA you clearly see they are on polar opposite ends (one film in fiction and one film that delves into true events) and wonder how could one view the CIA in the 70s as what Affleck does. Affleck seemed to think the end of the 70s in America needed some little silver lining event to be happy, why show all of that footage of reactionary populist anger to crisis(?), and the Iran Hostage Crisis itself is too muddied and murky to make the end of that the moment. So let’s celebrate this little moment even if the human stakes, human cost, and characterization do not really feel like it existed after the first 20 minutes of the movie.

  52. Sasha Stone
    February 23, 2013

    Meant to say Lincoln is just a boring history lesson people DON’T feel passionate about….
    and it’s still ahead of Argo.

    That Lincoln is losing everything should make everyone STFU about it. It is most certainly NOT boring – only to stupid people. If it isn’t winning any consensus votes – kiss my ass. Neither did Vertigo or Citizen Kane. Please in the name of all things holy stop saying that shit.

  53. Bill
    February 23, 2013

    1. As an American viewer of Argo I left the theater thinking “Thank God for Canada!”
    2. Congressman Courtney was just pointing out the error in (an otherwise great) Lincoln concerning the vote of the Connecticut members of Congress was jarring. The real drama was that the first Democrat to vote for ratification of the 13th Amendment in the House was the sole Democrat from CT whose vote elicited cheers from onlookers at the time because it showed Democrats were joining Republicans to vote for Emancipation.

  54. February 23, 2013

    Yvette, I never called Lincoln a boring history lesson, so take your gripes elsewhere. Is English your first language? You certainly have me fooled, if it is. I thought The Hobbit was “the” movie to see this year. You mean, it wasn’t Django Unchained? What a difference $20M makes.

  55. Yvette
    February 24, 2013

    Sasha,
    I only meant that statement mockingly. I hate the myth that Lincoln is a ‘boring history lesson’ as much as you do or even more aggravating, the myth that its a movie that failed to incite ‘passion’
    Because its box office belies those myths its detractors keep selling.
    I should have put quotations around the ‘boring’ comment.
    I want an upset Sunday night. What an Oscar telecast to remember…
    I’ve already conceded a loss for Sally and probably TLJ….but If Clooney gets a win as producer over Kennedy….and Kushner loses to Argo…
    It would such a travesty.

  56. steve50
    February 24, 2013

    “This kind of reveal by President Carter is pretty convenient in timing.”

    Wasn’t it? The ballot deadline had passed. The box office tap was almost dry and the DVD was just released. The only convenience achieved is sales based on curiosity.

    “Good” CIA (aided by Hollywood heroes) trumps “bad” CIA, always and forever more, in a popular vote.

  57. K. Bowen
    February 24, 2013

    It’s a movie about the American involvement. It’s like saying Patton is inaccurate or unfair because it ignores the Russians on the Eastern Front. Maybe in a perfect world, everyone would sit down for a movie about the Canadian efforts. But in this world would anyone watch that film?

    BTW, is Casablanca accurate? Does it ignore the heroic efforts of Captain Renault b/c it focuses on Rick?

  58. Yvette
    February 24, 2013

    K.,
    Argo seems to get a pass for all its inconsistencies, incompleteness, omissions……Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty were derailed by less. That’s the difference.

  59. Pickles
    February 24, 2013

    To K. Bowen . . . Wow! Just wow! I guess in the minds of you and Americans like you, Canada is that piece of dog poo on the bottom of Americans’ collective shoe. Nobody in your country admits to even knowing we exist until you want us to go along with something your country wants. eg. Allowing hundreds of planes to land in Canada on Sept. 11 regardlesss of the danger. We did it, no question . . . And with not a helluva lot of thanks either. But, that’s okay . . , who cares about that shitty country to your north. I liked the movie Argo, even though I knew all through it that the credit was taken from Ken Taylor (you see, we Canadians knew what Taylor had done all along) but it did not surprise me, in the least, to see Americans taking the credit for something they did not.

    Rant over.

    By the way, i am still holding out hope that Lincoln will win BP tonight!

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