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Would The Members of The Academy Like a Do Over?

By John H. Foote

Do you think they have looked over the list of nominees, admitted their obvious errors and would be interested in doing it all over again? Do you think they have watched the Golden Globes, the BFCA and Producers Guild with keen interest, wondering how they blew it so badly?

With the Producers Guild of America (PGA) honoring Argo as the years best film, suddenly Ben Affleck‘s knockout movie is looking more and more like the frontrunner for the Academy Award. The one major stroke against the film is the lack of a nomination for Best Director. Not since 1990 has a film won the Best Picture Oscar without a Best Director nomination, Driving Miss Daisy (1990) turning the trick over twenty years ago.

Now before I venture any further, let me state that the PGA win for Best Picture does not always line up for an Oscar win as Best Picture. Not so long ago there were a number of years that the Best Picture winner from the PGA did not win the Oscar as Best Picture, so there is still room for that sort of thing to happen. Apollo 13 (1995), The Aviator (2004), Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006) are just four of the PGA winners that did not go on to Oscar glory. There could very well be a repeat of that this year if the Academy goes in the direction I think it will and honor Lincoln and Steven Spielberg as the years best, but with Argo surging through the latest series of awards, there is without question hope for the film. Steven Spielberg could win his third Academy Award for Best Director for Lincoln and watch as Argo takes Best Picture, just as he did a few years back when Shakespeare in Love (1998) upset his war epic Saving Private Ryan (1998). Or Ang Lee could take the director Oscar for Life of Pi which was deemed unfilmmable yet was turned into a breathtaking film by the Oscar winning director.

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It has all left me thinking that the Academy voters might want a do over in the category of Best Director.

How was ben Affleck left off the list when he has been the front runner for the prize since TIFF? The word in Hollywood was that they wanted to honor him, they wanted to acknowledge his comeback as a director, far surpassing his work as an actor. So how is he left out after being nominated for a Directors Guild Award, which he seems almost assured of winning now. Affleck, if nominated for an Oscar would almost be assured the win, his film is that well liked, and his achievement that much admired within the industry. So how did he miss the final five?? Especially when nominated for that precious DGA??
Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win both the DGA and the Academy Award for Best Director for her seething film The Hurt Locker (2009), and seemed a shoo-in for her second nomination and potentially award for Zero Dar Thirty, which took some of the major critics awards before the nominations were announced. Like Affleck, she was a shocking exclusion, because she too was a nominee from the DGA and her film actually surpassed her previous Oscar winning work. IS it the boys club rearing its ugly head? I doubt it because they so embraced her back in 2009, and she has never been on the outside looking in. So what happened?

Where the Oscars got it right was in ignoring Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, who managed to get a DGA nod, for a film over populated with excessive close-ups, its weakness, clearly (well maybe not), bad direction.
My thoughts are if the members of the Academy could vote again we would have very different results.

At this writing Steven Spielberg seems poised to win his third Academy Award for Best Director for his superb Lincoln, but can Lincoln beat off the increasing tide of support for Argo? Two weeks ago when the nominees were announced, I had no doubt, today, I have nothing but doubts. I am thinking more and more Argo will win Best Picture over Lincoln, but that Spielberg will prevail as Best Director, with Ang Lee an outside chance.

But at this point who the hell knows? The winner of the DGA will help determine something, but exactly what? If Affleck wins it bodes well for Argo though the director himself has no chance for an Oscar. If Spielberg wins the race is over and Lincoln is headed towards Best Film.

I cannot remember a year when things were so bizarre, when there were such major exclusions from the race leaving it so totally wide open. 2001 comes to mind because so many of the years best films were all but passed over, and the years best film, and most nominated, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) lost to an inferior film, A Beautiful Mind (2001).

Craziest race in years…just nuts….

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John Foote

John Foote