I was speaking with some of my writers recently about who and what could be winning Best Picture and the subject came up about Argo. With Argo winning Best Picture and Director at the Critics Choice Movie Awards and Golden Globes, Ben Affleck’s film is in a position to make unprecedented history and I’m not just talking about being the first film to win without a Director nomination since Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
When it comes to the Producers Guild of America, this is when you can really start talking up the Daisy example. Critics and Oscar-lovers love to cite the missing Director fact but not many remember that Driving Miss Daisy was the first film to win the Producers Guild of America award in 1990. The group didn’t choose nominees for the first three years of its inception but the light-hearted comedy managed to best Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society, and Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot. Granted, the film was announced as the winner after the actual Oscar ceremony, three days to be exact, so this is a unique circumstance to say the least.
No film has won Best Picture without being nominated by the Producers Guild. And while that’s a fact, nearly all of those winners had Director nominations attached. The only and closest scenario for Affleck’s situation is Ron Howard. In 1996, Howard made one of the finest films of the year, Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Kevin Bacon. Thought to be a frontrunner, Howard was nominated for the Golden Globe Award and won the Directors Guild of America. As it stands today, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg are the only two filmmakers to win DGA and not be nominated for the Oscar. Spielberg won the DGA for The Color Purple (1986).
When it comes to the Screen Actors Guild, the correlation with Oscar is a bit different since their top category, Cast Ensemble is not “Best Picture” so to speak. The first year of the SAG awards, coincidentally Apollo 13 won the top award. When Howard and his film lost to Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, Gibson’s film became the only Best Picture winner not to be nominated for SAG Ensemble, a problem Argo does not have.
Not sure how far Argo can go but with this race as wide open as it is, don’t be surprised to see your own predictions fall by the wayside on Oscar night. Nothing is definite and chances are, if you or I get a prediction right, it doesn’t mean we’re smart, we’re just lucky. Surprising to many, Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper were left off in the category too and both have their fans and thought Oscar was within an arm’s reach. There are many chasing Oscar. Who will get there, nobody knows…yet.
Steven Spielberg is probably the hands down favorite to win Director for Lincoln and it’s hard to imagine his film missing Best Picture. The Weinstein Company is putting every last dollar, ad, and trick to get David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook in front of voters and audiences. While many are anticipating the Picture/Director split, the occurrence when two different films win the top two awards, it is a weird action when it happens. The power of Weinstein is definitely something you cannot deny, but the hurdle for Silver Linings Playbook is getting David O. Russell on the Oscar stage along with an upset in Adapted Screenplay over Tony Kushner and Editing over William Goldenberg and Michael Kahn. It’s no secret that comedies are a hard sell for Oscar voters, and the last comedy to win was Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). Is Playbook on Annie level? I’d argue not. Is Russell a potential future Woody Allen? Eh. The Weinsteins have convinced voters of many crazy things before including Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan and The King’s Speech over The Social Network. We could be in for ANOTHER disappointment. Disappointment if you’re not in love with Silver Linings like others.
PGA will be announced on Satuday, SAG Awards on Sunday, and DGA on February 2.