Ben Affleck

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Ben Affleck will always be tied to Ebert for all eternity. Argo was the last number one movie ever named by Ebert, predicted to win the Oscar (rightly) by Ebert, and To the Wonder was the last movie reviewed by Ebert. Kind of strange, don’t you think? Either way, here is what Affleck said about Ebert at last night’s To the Wonder preem, from Variety – “last summer” would have been before the Telluride film fest – the WB already knew what they had with Argo, which one of the reasons it went to Telluride at all and now I wonder if it wasn’t Ebert who tipped them off:

“I went and visited Roger last summer,” Affleck recalled at the Pacific Design Center gala. “We talked about ‘Argo.’ I met with his wife and saw his living conditions after his surgery and I was so moved by his cheerfulness, the way that he sort of bore that burden.”

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“If you are losing a tug of war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy a new rope.” – Max Gunther

A quick timeline:
January 10th
– Oscar nominations, Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow left off
January 10th – Ben Affleck wins Best Picture and Director at the BFCA
January 13th – Ben Affleck wins Best Picture and Best Director at the Globes

January 24 – PGA ballot deadline
January 25 – SAG, DGA deadline

You build momentum one win at a time, but particularly so if it is an unexpected win. What Ben Affleck’s double wins did on the heels of his presumed “snub” threw fire on gasoline and set into motion a narrative that would turn what was once a wide open Oscar race into one of those years where one movie wins everything — like Slumdog Millionaire. In fact, that was the last time a movie won as many awards as Argo is winning. The drama continues every step of the way because everyone knows that the one award Argo can’t win is Best Director. It was a blessing in disguise.

That it is up against evil Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln makes it all the more juicy. I just saw a headline yesterday that read “will Argo steal Lincoln’s Best Picture Oscar?” Even when it was clear Argo was going to win that narrative kept chugging away and will continue up to Oscar night. People love that kind of thing.  It makes us all think justice is being done. The good guys are winning against the bad guys.  It’s the nature of humans, and the nature of the Oscar race.

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Fans truly believe that Ben Affleck was “snubbed” by the Academy and that the Academy will be sorry when Argo wins Best Picture.  Every pundit from Scott Feinberg to Steve Pond is saying Argo can’t lose – by now, the guilds tell the Academy what to do anyway so perhaps the Oscars are just an afterthought — or maybe they will surprise us. Doubt it. This scenario has only played out twice and both times the Academy chose a film that had a corresponding director nomination – they defended their choice.  The DGA backed their choices for Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg but the Academy went a different way with Out of Africa and Braveheart.  Now, Spielberg will be on the losing side of that scenario as Argo sails to victory.  So Spielberg will have lived twice through one of the rarest events in Academy history.  Argo is fifth in line for most nominations and has no director nom.  That pretty much sends the message that the movies the Academy nominated most strongly, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings, Les Mis are not as worthy as the one that got less nominations than any of those.  Funny, that.  Either way, an object in motion stays in motion and the winning streak doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

A tweet just now:

He still has an Oscar race to finish first but hey, if he can withstand that he can withstand anything.

This press release was paid for by RawNews.com. Raw News is in no way affiliated with Ben Affleck. This release is intended to encourage Ben Affleck to run for U.S. Senate.

Although Ben Affleck has not officially announced a Senate run, recent interviews indicate an increased likelihood that a campaign could already be in the stages of initial campaign planning. Matt Foster went on to note, “Our petition aims to garner support for Ben Affleck should he decide to run. This includes not only Massachusetts residents, but anybody else who wants to stay informed of campaign updates. We hope to generate some additional buzz if Ben Affleck does decide to run for Senate and should he decide to announce his candidacy, we’re sure he’ll win.”

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Ben Affleck was in Washington D.C. today to testify before the House Armed Services Committee about security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The issue is close to Affleck, who founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, a charity organization benefiting the African nation.  Salon assists in spreading a rumor said to be spreading:

Rumors are spreading around Capitol Hill and elsewhere that actor-director Ben Affleck might be considering a Senate run for Massachusetts. Politico notes that Affleck, who was in D.C. today to speak for more U.S. involvement in Eastern Congo, was also scheduled to meet with other lawmakers, including Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.),”who is widely believed to be replacing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.”

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A wonderful choice for a wonderful film festival. The SBIFF is one of the fests worth attending on the west coast because of its Executive Director, Roger Durling. It is his passion and knowledge about films, and the Oscar race, that drives the fest. It was announced yesterday that:

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, will honor director, producer and actor Ben Affleck with the Modern Master Award at the 28th edition of the Fest, which runs January 24 -February 3, 2013, it was announced today by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling. The Tribute will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at the historic Arlington Theatre.

Affleck hit it out of the park this year with Argo, his second film that will hit the $100 million mark (it’s already at $85 million), and his best reviewed film so far.

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Always risky to say a movie is a unanimous hit with critics because even as the raves stack up we never know if a writer will come along to undermine a great average. Today with 40 top critics weighed in, it feels safe to name Argo the best rated mainstream movie of 2012. It vaults to the top of the heap with an 87 average. Metacritic rates 13 reviews as perfect scores of 100 and more 3/4 of the reviews rank higher than 80. With no negative reviews whatsoever and only 4 that are somewhat middling, Argo has achieved that rarity of critical consensus — it’s not even polarizing; it’s an undisputed smash. The critics agree with Lou Lumenick: Argo is “a blue-chip Oscar contender.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Ben Affleck not only stars in but also directs, and “Argo,” the real movie about the fake movie, is both spellbinding and surprisingly funny. Many of the laughs come from the Hollywood guys played by Goodman and Arkin, although to be sure, as they set up a fake production office and hold meetings poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel, they aren’t in danger like their “crew members” in Iran…

The craft in this film is rare. It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that’s so clear to us we wonder why it isn’t obvious to the Iranians. After all, who in their right mind would believe a space opera was being filmed in Iran during the hostage crisis? Just about everyone, it turns out. Hooray for Hollywood.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

It’s a doozy of a story and so borderline ridiculous that it sounds like something that could have been cooked up only by Hollywood. Ben Affleck, however, who directed “Argo” from a script by Chris Terrio and cast himself in the pivotal role of Tony Mendez, realized that comedy alone wouldn’t do. American lives, after all, were at stake (a situation that contemporary viewers will be all too familiar with), and so, after opening the movie with a bit of history and archival imagery, he rushes into the moment’s jarring, unsettling craziness with a cinematic whoosh…

Better yet, after setting your pulse racing, he smoothly downshifts, easing from the high anxiety of the opener — which evokes 1970s political thrillers like Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of the Condor” — into something looser, mellower and funny.

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Have you ever seen a movie where you walk out saying, “That was just a great fucking movie”? That’s Ben Affleck’s Argo. Inexplicably, a film that draws its strength from humor and suspense, winds up being more moving the second time through. Perhaps because once you have been through the suspense part of it you get to know the characters better and therefore care about their outcomes more.

My second viewing of Argo came last night at the glorious Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Wilshire in Beverly Hills, otherwise known as the Academy theater. I was kindly invited to go to the most swanky of all screenings with celebrities in attendance and everything.  There was even an after party — which my friend Craig Kennedy and I skipped. Not to humble brag but I will never turn down an invite to the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Cushy seats, big wide screen, mostly quiet audience — it’s nothing short of cinema heaven. But you are never going to get an impartial crowd, particularly, at premieres, not with stars in attendance. Once you file in with the party-goers you pass various checkpoints where you can oggle celebrities, if you are inclined towards that sort of thing.  The first checkpoint is past the lights and press tables at the edge of the photography corridor. Standing there last night, you would have seen George Clooney, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck take their pub walk to the theater’s entrance. At the bottom of the stairs is another gathering spot for celebrity watchers. Then you head up Gone with the Wind-esque red carpeted stairs to a mirrored wall, which I swear is a flattering skinny-mirror, in dim lighting for the badly aging and vain among us, and then up another flight of stairs.

At the top of the stairs is where you really get a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with the famous.  I once saw George Clooney exiting the john and it reminded me of that line from Annie Hall, “look, there’s God coming out of the men’s room.”

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