Almost exactly a year ago, I mentioned Ben Affleck’s film Argo as a potential Best Picture winner at the 85th Academy Awards. We had just finished the prior season and with The Artist about to be crowned an Oscar winner, the staff of The Awards Circuit had turned our attention to this potential crop. I wasn’t making any huge claims, but merely saying that it had a shot if things broke the right way. Little did I know what was to come over the course of a year, but we wound up with Argo winning. As fall changed to winter, I wasn’t alone in that line of thinking, but as the calendar changed from 2012 to 2013 and the especially when Affleck was snubbed for Best Director, few stuck with that prediction. The thing is, it was always going to be Argo in the end. We all just over thought things (yes, even I briefly predicted Zero Dark Thirty for a week or two and once even contemplated a Silver Linings Playbook upset) and made the job harder.
As Argo began to sweep the precursors, it crystallized exactly why this was a contender never to count out of the race. It had every going in its favor that a Best Picture winner needs, and almost none of the flaws that wound so many and ultimately eliminated the competition this time around. In a year where it turned out that the consensus pick was always the one to watch out for Argo, managed to unite the most people while turning off the least. Somehow, even the perceived weakness of having Affleck left off of the Best Picture list only served to galvanize supporters. It wasn’t the reason Argo went on to win, but while other contenders wilted and died out in the Best Picture race from just such a snub, this flick managed to thrive.
Six weeks ago, I wrote a piece while traveling from New York to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival that speculated on the possibility that Argo could make history as it did. I was more or less dismissed, and that’s certainly what the popular consensus would have done, but what’s important to note is that even then the seeds were already planted for Argo to contend or win. I stated the following:
“…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 wasn’t going to completely ride the long shot, but I had a feeling and it turns out that it was the right one. Go figure, as that never happens.
In the end, this was the rare year where my personal and professional feelings happened to merge. That’s hardly ever the case, so it’s certainly a nice thing, but as we turn the page to the 2013 contenders I think it’s important to remember this win. Argo is a future case study for not jumping ship. When all was said and done, Lincoln turned out to be appreciated more than loved, Life of Pi was given the most awards but not the big one, and other players like Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty turned out to just be passing fancies for Best Picture. It turned out that Argo was, and likely always was, the one that Oscar wanted.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!