The 2013 Oscar Race, which can go anywhere and award any movie, came (somewhat) into focus over the weekend. Based on Argo winning the coveted Producers Guild Award and the Best Ensemble Award from the Screen Actors Guild, a large voting block within the Academy have spoken. Argo made a comeback to be front and center in the awards conversation striking at just the right time. People are talking about it again. The bloggers are tweeting about it. The stunning Oscar snub for Director Ben Affleck and a string of critics awards wins, unexpectedly placed it on the radar. The art house theater, a few blocks from my Denver residence, Landmark Esquire, opened Argo last week and has had packed showings. This is a place that exclusively opened The Master and Anna Karenina in the past few months is now showing a mainstream blockbuster thriller. This is symbolic reminder of how the big studios delivered what the smaller prestige pictures couldn’t. Argo has become what Zero Dark Thirty was a month ago minus the pseudo intellectual controversy (more on my take on that VERY soon). We will see if Affleck is victorious for the Directors Guild of America awards this upcoming Saturday evening.
This doesn’t bode well for Steven Spielberg’s epic masterpiece Lincoln which looks a little weaker now. However, it was the only movie to win two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the Guilds history. That is an achievement in itself. This hasn’t happened in the history of the SAG awards. A $167 million (and counting) box office gross. This is earth shattering business considering its opening weekend was just $21 million and only peaked in 2200 theaters! Typical wide releases open around 2800-3000 screens! Movies haven’t performed like this since the early 1990’s. The business of Lincoln is a refreshing change of pace that Hollywood needs and must embrace. Plus, this has the look of an old fashioned Oscar pedigree film that the Academy will be transfixed. The historical implications and modern similarities attached to Lincoln stand taller then Honest Abe himself. And the best chances for Lincoln seem to rely on the weaknesses of Argo. Sasha Stone of Awards Daily compiled the following information to show what Oscar history Argo must overcome. Its not pretty:
To win Best Picture it must become the first film in PGA and Oscar history to win without a director’s nomination, the second film in Oscar history to win with the 4th most nominations, and the second in 65 years of Oscar/DGA history to win Best Picture without a director nomination (and the fourth in 85 years of Oscar history)
This is a lot for Argo to overcome, all because the Academy failed to nominate Ben Affleck for Best Director. If he was nominated, it would look like an Argo Oscar victory. Despite this major issue, signs seem to show Argo to be the Oscar Best Picture front runner gaining crucial momentum at the right moment with awards and the guilds. The well edited, tense, very good Ben Affleck movie is quite a crowd-pleaser! It appeases almost everyone in the four quad demographics (young, old, men, women) and offends no one. However, it’s far from Best Picture in my book. What’s happening to Argo is very similar to what happened with Apollo 13 during its award season. Both were a historical retelling of an American rescue mission directed by an actor turned filmmaker. Both features won over the guilds during a divided year of a wide variety of movies (remember Babe and Leaving Las Vegas?). However, it lost the Best Picture Oscar to Braveheart which was clearly the better, more timeless movie of that year. I hope a similar thing happens to Lincoln, one of 2012’s very best. Argo is more easy going for simple minded viewers who cant handle the crisp, wonky dialogue of Lincoln. I will say that since Apollo 13 wasn’t about Hollywood saving the day during an International crisis, Argo could very well be a movie about the industry for the industry to pat themselves on the back!
Now for other contenders: it seems likely Anne Hathaway will win the Best Supporting Oscar for Les Miserables. She is so captivating that she even garners respect from her haters! I have always admired her talents while many have bashed her like all the cool kids loved to do. She earns the awards she has been racking up. The Best Supporting Actor Race is between Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln and Christopher Waltz in Django Unchained. If anyone knows who can win this close race, please let me know! Waltz winning a second time for essentially playing the noble hero’s version of his vile turn in Inglorious Basterds feels unworthy to me…especially in a movie that featured some of the best performances of Leonardo DiCaprio’s and Samuel L. Jackson’s career. Finally, Jennifer Lawrence seems poised to win the Best Actress Oscar for The Silver Linings Playbook. With the Academy falling in love with it by becoming the first movie in my actual lifetime to receive nominations in all four acting categories, it seems to be able to win something BIG. And Ms. Lawrence’s perfect blend of comedy and drama seems primed to win over the voters. Maybe it could take advantage of the split voters and be the emotional movie that steals the Oscar from the historical pictures. Who knows anyway?
We have an Oscar race between Argo and Lincoln with The Silver Linings Playbook as a dark horse spoiler. Stay tuned award movie lovers…