Well, here we are. The Golden Globes only managed to confuse us more about the Oscar race, something I wasn’t sure was actually possible. It’s almost as if every phase of the season has thrown us for a new loop. A few months ago I wrote a piece (found here) that spoke about why I had ‘Argo’ as the frontrunner. That remained the case until a few weeks ago, when I moved towards ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ based on its exceptional critics awards run. Then, the Oscar nominations happened and suddenly we didn’t see Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow nominated, making me doubt that either film could win. I was expecting to mostly be moving away from them, but then the Globes on Sunday brought me back to Affleck’s film. It’s definitely not the frontrunner, but I think it remains a viable Best Picture player. Unlikely, yes…but we’d also be looking at a juicy rarity in the world of the Academy Awards.
While the odds still favor ‘Lincoln’ as the Oscar night favorite for Best Picture, I’d caution not to declare the race over at all. Both ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ have emerged as stronger contenders than expected, while ‘Les Miserables’ has moved down a few pegs, keeping ‘Argo’ more than in the conversation right now. Currently I have Affleck’s movie trailing only ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ for Best Picture. Third place in a field of nine is hardly a bad spot to be in, and considering that many had other movies higher up than ‘Argo’ before the nominations, I don’t think the film has suffered much at all.
The Best Director snub clearly hurts the film with the Director’s branch of the Academy, but in some ways this may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for ‘Argo’. Now, it’s not quite the consensus pick, and in fact seems to be the popular underdog of the lineup. This isn’t the little movie that could in the traditional sense, but it does mostly fit in with the perception that Oscar voters enjoy backing the little guy from time to time. Sometimes, being the underdog is actually the position that some contenders long to be in, and Affleck’s movie certainly is the underdog now.
History isn’t particularly on the film’s side, as an ‘Argo’ win would mark only the fourth time in Oscar history that a movie took home Best Picture without a Best Director nomination, with the last one being ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ almost a quarter century ago. The two films couldn’t be more different (I don’t think nearly as many people were as up in arms over Bruce Beresford not making it into the Best Director field), but considering no flick since that one was able to do what it did, ‘Argo’ had better look at that bit of history to see if it can defy what’s become the status quo of Best Picture and Best Director going hand in hand.
Ultimately, I’m not nearly ready to call ‘Argo’ the film that’s going to win the Oscar, but if we see Affleck win the prize from the Directors Guild of America and the film itself win with the Producers Guild of America, then all bets are off. Especially if ‘Argo’ is able to score an upset Screen Actors Guild win, or if something like ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ takes home the Best Ensemble prize, then I think the Affleck snub won’t wind up meaning too much. ‘Lincoln’ could still ultimately take home the gold, but to not at least consider ‘Argo’ is quite foolish to me at this current moment. I’m not 100% sure what to make of the race right now, but that’s part of the fun of it all, right?
I’m curious to see what you all think about this, so I’m turning it over to the Awards Circuit community for further debate and discussion. Can ‘Argo’ defy history and win Best Picture? Is it completely out of the running? Is the truth somewhere in between? I think there are arguments to be made for each position, even if I obviously see things in a certain way. Now’s the time to make your thoughts known, so have at it ladies and gents…
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!