Monday, January 14, 2013

State of the Oscar Race: Can Argo Still Win?

In this mixed up and messed up Oscar season, the lay of the land as we know it can change at any time. On Thursday morning the snubs of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow left our jaws on the floor, as two once great contender seemed to collapse within an instant. Then on Thursday at the horrendously orchestrated Critics Choice Awards (Seriously the BFCA just got it all wrong), Argo took the top prize. Last night at the Golden Globes, it did the same thing. More importantly, Affleck won both director awards as well. So my question is this: can Argo, despite a lack of a Best Director nomination, still win Best Picture at the Academy Awards? After the nominations were announced, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi emerged as the strongest contenders, despite the fact that none of them had won any major precursor events, and still haven't. Is Argo still in the mix?

I theorize that with PGA/BAFTA/DGA/WGA/SAG supporting across the board in all major categories, Argo is still one of the top contenders for the prize for Best Picture. At last night's Golden Globes, the room seem elated with the fact that that Affleck had won. Despite the Director's Branch of the Academy not agreeing, Argo and Affleck still seem very well liked throughout the Hollywood community. Plus, Affleck could pull a stunner and win the DGA, a nice middle finger to the more highbrowed members that also belong to AMPAS. A trajectory could follow something like this. First, SAG goes to either SLP or Lincoln, confirming that these two are the actors' favorite choices. The PGA could easily go to Argo, as will most likely the BAFTA where it cleaned up in nominations Wednesday morning. The WGA will probably be split with Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Then it comes down to the DGA. In fact, it really comes down to the PGA and the DGA. Could the directors pull a coup d'etat and give Affleck the prize.

Everyone points out that the last film to win without a director's nomination was Driving Miss Daisy. But Driving Miss Daisy missed the DGA as well, something Affleck did not. Driving Miss Daisy also did not come out in 2012. This has been a strange year where statistic after statistic is constantly proven wrong. For example, there are those that argue, rightfully so, that the BFCA and HFPA ballots were both turned in before the Oscar nominations had been announced, when Argo looked like the top contender for the prize. If they had been released afterwards, maybe SLP could have beaten Les Mis, although the HFPA rarely thinks like that. But the BFCA surely would have switched gears, as their constant need to match the Oscars gets more ridiculous every year.

Despite this contradictory evidence, a win is a win, and Affleck's heartfelt speeches are being watched by plenty of voters who could easily be charmed back onto the Argo bandwagon. My point to this winded and confusing rant is that in this year, I choose to believe that anything is possible, because time and time again it is proven to me. SLP could benefit from being the underdog movie with Weinstein on its side. Life of Pi could be the visionary film that sweeps the voters off their feet, and a way to honor past snubs of Ang Lee films. Lincoln is the one at the moment that seems to have it all going its way, and it is right up the Academy's alley. But the one to watch out for is Argo, and I firmly believe that its director snub only strengthened the will and determination of those that champion it. Basically, I think it is safe to say that Bette Davis put it best in All About Eve when it comes to Oscar night 2013: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."

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