DGA Awards: 'Argo' Increases Its Hold On Oscar's Best Picture Prize With Affleck Win

By all coventional signals, Warner Bros is sitting with a hot hand right now with Argo.

After winning a key SAG award for Cast, a very predictive Producers Guild honor for Best Picture and now tonight an all-important DGA win for Ben Affleck as Best Director, the writing would seem to be on the wall. The Oscar award for Best Picture would seem to be Argo‘s to lose.

Voters really seem to like this picture. You could feel it in the room tonight at Hollywood And Highland’s Grand Ballroom where in three short weeks the Governors Ball for the Oscars will be held, and you can just feel Ben Affleck will be celebrating once again even though he was snubbed for Best Director at the Oscars.

This is a rare year.

Related: DGA Awards 2013: Ben Affleck And ‘Argo’ Lead Winners List

Affleck won Best Director for Argo at the DGA even though he is not Oscar nominated. That means that this year the winner of the Best Director Oscar will not match up with DGA for only the seventh time since the DGA has been handing out their awards. And with all those other Guild awards it has been racking up, Argo is an unquestioned front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar. Add to that the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award and you have a juggernaut. Who would have predicted that early in  the season?

When i ran into Lincoln producer Kathleen Kennedy tonight after the DGA ceremony she seemed resigned to the writing on the wall.

Except… This is an odd year. Anything can happen, and with ballots not going out until February 8th the tide could still turn. Guild awards could be meaningless and the race could be turned on its head at the Oscars. It’s not too late. But the traditional bellwethers are suddenly overwhelmingly in favor of Argo.

The fact is Affleck is extremely likeable and he has been campaigning effectively. Argo somehow has become the movie of the moment against heavyweight competition and looms as the consensus film of the year. He’s also learned to be extremely humble which plays very well in Oscar season.

With only one more major Guild show to go, the Writers on February 17 (two days before Oscar ballots are due) Argo would seem to be in a commanding postion although we can never underestimate the quirks of Academy voters. For its sake you can only hope that Argo has not peaked too soon. Reaction tonight among the rank and file DGA members I talked to indicated a strong wave for Argo. But it’s a weird year and the vote of a particular guild could matter less than ever.

It is a very curious year and its getting curiouser and curiouser.

  1. It’s disgraceful that Ben wasn’t nominated for an Oscar he was cheated because he’s a handsome movie star. I’m glad he’s winning all these other awards and hopefully those who denied him an Oscar nomination will feel very guilty and stupid when Argo wins Best Picture.

      1. And that’s YOUR opinion. See how it works…whatever you write is your own opinion. Except what I just wrote. That’s a fact.

    1. It’s not about Ben.
      The strength of Argo’s appeal among biz folks is the story beat that the hostages were rescued with the help of Hollywood which made a big difference in the success of the CIA operation, coming at a time when Hollywood is constantly bashed as aloof and out of touch with the big middle of the country.

      It makes us feel good in the biz, and that will go a long way on Oscar night.

    2. Are you insane? Why do you think he’s winning all these awards? He’s a white-bread fat-free snack. An easy choice. And he is playing the humble act too well at this point, starting to lose control of it. “William Wyler’s a real director, Capra’s a real director, Scorsese’s a real director, Spielberg’s a real director”? Come on. Can you pick a more ingratiating set of examples, especially for the older Academy crowd? It’s beginning to get embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s fine and so is Argo, but this level of praise and attention is not about the film anymore. When people are done having fun rooting for Affleck, this will turn, because there are probably equally “fun” stories on their way that are going to pull out from under him this high pedestal that should never have been put there in the first place. I feel bad for the guy. He’s like Carrie on prom night before the bucket drops. Am I being too cynical?

  2. It won’t win. The voters won’t want to bring up that a movie won “best” but the director wasn’t even nominated.

      1. After Driving Miss Daisy won, the academy came under heavy criticism and since then, every best picture winner at least had a best director nomination.

        1. You’re forgetting Crash. Crash won best picture in 2006, but didn’t win the best director award. Ang Lee, who is up for the award in Life of Pi this year, won it for Brokeback Mountain in 2006. And that the last time a film won best picture but didn’t win best director.

  3. The Academy has allowed write-in votes before, and it should again this year. The small directors branch of the Academy shouldn’t prevent the other 95% from voting for Mr. Affleck or Ms Bigelow or Mr.Hooper, etc. There are 9 Best Picture nominees, 10 actor, 10 actress, 10 writing entities nominees, why only 5 directors? Let the whole of the Academy truly choose their Best Director winner.

    1. Um, there’s only at most 5 nominees for the other categories. Only Best Picture has more than 5.

      Anyway, I hope the members of the Academy rewards Argo by letting it win all 7 of it’s nominations to give a message to the directing branch that they got it wrong. Also, whoever wins Best Director, I hope they refuse the award knowing that Ben Affleck is the true winner.

      But that’s wishful thinking…

  4. I agree. Whatever happened with the director snub, it will be very surprising to see Argo win best picture. If for nothing else it will be to save face to pick something else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a crazy left field pick at this point.

  5. Argo is an OK movie, nothing more but so is Lincoln too. Neither should win. But then the Oscars has nothing to do with quality. It is a popularity contest. Why did Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick never win this overblown thing?

        1. First of all, the original post never qualified his “Kubrick never won an Oscar” statement as a DIRECTOR’S Oscar. Second, maybe if he would have showed up to actually accept the Visual Effects Oscar he would have won for a film down the line. The Academy notoriously dislikes giving awards to people who don’t give a damn about the award.

          1. Tell that to Woody Allen, who never comes to the Oscars to accept his awards yet won a best screenplay award for Midnight in Paris.

    1. At least the Directors branch of the Academy at the time saw fit to nominate Hitchcock and Kubrick. Today’s branch look like idiots for not nominating Affleck. And deservedly so – they are idiots.

  6. Argo will win best picture. The members will accept the reality of its success, and not the lack of nomination for Affleck for directing. It will be easier for the Academy to get by with the oversight of Affleck, but ignoring Argo will be a big black eye for the membership and Oscar credibility. The public and the media are keeping close tabs.

    The bigger challenge for the Academy is best actress. Emmanuelle Riva should be a slam dunk winner, but I am concerned this may be less obvious to the entire Academy voters. However, for anyone who watched Emmanuelle Riva’s performance in AMOUR…there is no doubt.

    1. Actually that’s not true. I watched Riva’s performance in Amour and would not say she was the best. Not even my #2 on that list. So your sweeping generalization of her obviousness is obviously wrong.

      1. Really? I don’t know what performance you were watching. Riva’s performance was immense and miles ahead of the other opposition in that category. Lawrence will win it as flavour of the month but the portrayal Riva brought to the table was wrenching to witness. Raw but compassionate and honest with no reliance on histrionics, just the truth.

        Amour is a film that asks questions of it’s audience and for that reason it should also win Best Film and Director for Haneke. This won’t happen, though Foreign Language is surely a formality (a shame for A Royal Affair which is also impressive).

      2. Dear Abby,

        Our opinions may differ, but I am not wrong. Emmanuelle Riva’s performance is in a league of its own. This is no way takes anything away from the Jennifer or Jessica or the other actresses nominated. Frankly, I think one of these two may, indeed, win.

        But, I would bet a whole lot of money that all these gifted actresses voted for Emmanuelle Riva in their hearts, and probably, on their ballots, too.

    2. As a member of the public, I could care less whether or not the guy from “Reindeer Games” and “Gigli” wins a directing award over true talents like Ang Lee and Michael Haneke.

  7. I have to say I find Argo’s sweep of the guilds almost suspicious. Has a film, for example, ever won Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards without a nomination or win in the film acting categories? How does that even happen? I, for one, I am not disappointed in Affleck’s snub by the director’s branch of the Academy. I’ve watched Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Life of Pi and Django Unchained and all make MUCH MUCH MUCH more compelling best director bids than Argo; Life of Pi is my absolute favorite. This for me is the year the Academy gets it right. Ang Lee will deservedly win Best Director; Life of Pi or Zero Dark Thirty will deservedly claim Best Picture.

  8. Argo is entertaining while you’re watching it and instantly forgettable the minute you leave the cinema. It’s not even as if Hollywood is lauding a crowd favourite. The delirious love for this good, not great, film is like the year the mediocre Slum dog millionaire swept all before it (you know, the ‘feel good ‘ film about Indian beggars having their eyes gouged out for sympathy money).
    I hope BAfta and Oscar show more sense but I’ doubt they will, there’s a sheep-ish quality to voters in this business.
    I saw LIncoln for a second time last night. It has its flaws but It is head and big Abe shoulders above Argo.

  9. Yeah, the Academy really likes to cheat handsome movie stars like Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson out of Best Director trophies.

  10. Years from now, we’ll cringe over the thought of this perfunctory film winning over such true works of art as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Amour, etc. because of a wrong-headed pity campaign for a director who made millions acting in shitty movies. Ugh – this is embarrassing.

  11. The dictator Shah of Iran was installed and supported by America. Iran retaliated by detaining some American diplomats. That was 34 years ago. ARGO and its awards are Hollywood’s timely propaganda contribution to the Jewish state’s campaign to immerse America in yet another Mideast war, this time against Iran. Netanyahu’s Israel, AIPAC, Israel Firsters and ingenious distribution of enormous amounts of Jewish money have achieved disproportionate control of our democracy. Termination of the criminal treachery and treason demands immediate priority. The Government of the United States must again serve American interests, not the Jewish state’s paranoid pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and racist empire.

    1. Really? Wow.

      Dude, your tinfoil has slipped to the side a bit, you might want to be sure it’s buckled on a wee bit tighter before you post again. Oh, and double check your medication levels as well.

  12. I thought Argo was the best picture of the year, and as an Academy member I am PISSED that I can’t vote for Ben Affleck.

    1. You should not confuse best of what you’ve seen with best of the year. Herein lies the bigger problem.

  13. The Academy has been irrelevant for about 20-25 years now.Sure it is a great honor for the actors and actresses that receive one but the majority of the general public knows it is an insider dog and pony show. Not nominating Affleck is just another example. The Academy may not respect his work but the general public thinks this guy is a multi talented artist who will only get better and better as a director. If he continues on an upward path as a director with the quality of the first four movies he has done,he will get his best director award. It still does not make up for the travesty of not even being nominated for Argo.

  14. Pete, you asked “who would have predicted that early in the season?” While nearly everyone I know (which includes Acad voters) liked “Lincoln” they loved “Argo.” They all loved DDL’s performance but that does not make a Best Picture winner.

  15. Very pleased because I really do think Argo was the best movie of the year. Lincoln also had some brilliant moments, but the pacing was slow and there were long dry spells. Contrast this with Argo where from the opening frame the narrative was propelled forward. Nothing is a lock when it comes to the Best Picture Oscar, but I think Ben not being nominated for Best Director will create sympathy for the movie and make people want to support it in other ways. Argo looks hard to beat.

  16. Internationally speaking, Lincoln is quite a poor film. I live in Italy and basically nobody here is enjoying the film while everyone seems to get bored soon after the opening credits. From here it looks like Argo and all the other nominees are definitely better than Lincoln and deserve the oscar more than Spielberg’s political flick.
    IMHO, ZDT is by far better than Argo among intelligence-related movies and I’m disappointed that Sony is giving up on such a fine piece of art.

    1. It’s a great idea but they now have 10 nominees for best picture and only 5 for the best director so no matter what, 5 directors won’t be nominated even if the films they directed are one of the 10 best picture nominees.

      What they should do is expand all the major categories to 10 nominees. Director, Actor, Actress should each have 10 nominees since best picture was artificially inflated to 10 they did that to increase TV ratings hoping more people would watch if more films were in contention.

  17. “Argo” & Affleck winning all these awards really sticks a thumb in the eyes of the people who decide who get noms at the Academy Awards. All the people who got snubed may be enjoying this.

  18. Can someone explain how directors qualify for the directors’ branch in AMPAS but aren’t–apparently–in the DGA? Are we talking about retirees or what? I want to understand why there was such a discrepancy this year in the two groups regarding nominees.

    1. The rank and file of the DGA are actually Assistant Directors and UPMs – not necessarily particularly artistic/creative people. They tend to be very practical/problem solvers – essential to fine films. This vote is no surprise. It reflects a different jury with different sensibilities. That’s all.

  19. RE:DougW there are multiple acting noms due to the fact that there isn’t just one actor in any given film. Also in regards to TV ratings the average people tune in to see their favourite actors at the premiere Hollywood event of the year. While directors do have assistant and 2nd unit directors there is usually 1 director per film. Limiting the field to only 5 director nominations make it all the more exciting(especially since the change to 10 best picture nominations) and prestigious to be nominated. Now that it’s impossible for all of the best picture nominees to correlate with the directing nominees its much more interesting to see which directors stand out to academy members compared to which films get a best picture nomination. Argo is a very good film but I dont think Mr Afflecks direction is anything special. You would have to be pretty inept to mess up a script like Argo. I think had anyone but Ben Affleck directed Argo the snub would not have been as big of deal nor would it be winning the DGA, Golden Globe etc. Hollywood loves a comeback story and I think that is playing to Argo’s advantage from an awards stand point. (see Dances with Wolves and Braveheart amoung other films with actor turned directors)

  20. So Affleck did a good job and got some great performances but i mean… come on, really? the keystone cop sequence at the end really brought this down in terms of being thought provoking material.

    Also, if no one has noticed THERE ARE NOW TWICE AS MANY AVAILABLE NOMINATIONS FOR BEST PICTURE THAN THERE ARE FOR BEST DIRECTOR. ONLY HALF OF THE NOMINATED BEST PICTURES WILL ALSO GET DIRECTOR NOMINATIONS. your person not getting a nod is one thing but the shock everyone is experiencing is another. DO THE MATH, it’s going to happen next year too. (and these might be pity wins)

    1. Of course there are more films nominated than directors. That is not a shock. However, when a director who isn’t nominated is winning top critics awards, guild awards, and the film is frontrunner for best pic, then that get be qualified as a snub.

  21. Affleck has won the Producers Guild honor for Best Picture, DGA win for Best Director, a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director. These awards reflect his talent as a filmmaker and I’m still stunned he got snubbed a Best Director nomination. The Academy decides to nominate two other directors (Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke) whose films the majority of the outside world haven’t heard of or seen. However, I do not think his snub will deter Academy voters away from Argo due to its incredible track record of awards.

    In addition, I think the commercial success of Argo will catapult it to Best Picture.

  22. Argo is just an average film. People like the fact that Ben Affleck is handsome and the movie didn’t completely suck. He is not a director with vision. He is an actor with a great crew.

    Lincoln is more mediocrity from a director who doesn’t know when to shut up and no one will tell him. also,aren’t we all tired of Daniel Day Lewis crawling out of his hole every five years to method act and win shit?

    The real best picture should be Silver Linings Playbook which has the best of everything. David O Russell is an asshole and so the DGA hates him but he is good at what he does. The film is a safe bet because neither Spielberg nor the overrated Affleck will win.

    1. The first half of “Silver Linings” is great; the second part devolves into a “crazy cures crazy” romantic comedy-cum-bizarro-dance competition. Jennifer Lawrence’s character should have been the one in the institution; I found nothing endearing about her nutty behavior or the tidy wrap-up at the end. All Pat did was trade one woman/emotional crutch for another (who in the long run would be much worse for his mental health). It was a cringeworthy conclusion.

      1. I still don’t understand the love for the very overrated Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is not award worthy ( the poor girl was trying too hard and her youthfulness hurt her performance ) , and she had zero chemistry with Bradley Cooper.

        I agree. All these awards given to Ben Affleck is too much, because he is not a visionary director. Affleck is an effective director- not brilliant. I truly hope Argo doesn’t win the Best Picture Oscar, because it is completely undeserved. Plus, Ben gives his typically bad performance in Argo- so wooden and unbelievably flat. Because of the success of Argo, now, Matt Damon and Channing Tatum feel they are qualified to direct . This is just unbearable much for me.

        1. @Rinse, I totally agree with you about Lawrence’s performance. That was a character that should have been cast as originally written, in her mid-to-late thirties. I didn’t feel her sleeping around was a response to the tragedy of her husband’s death as much a young girl just playing the field because she could. Lawrence’s mugging in every shot was just overbearing. And you are right about the lack of chemistry; Cooper and Chris Tucker had more of a spark. I continue to hope for an Emmanuelle Riva win for Best Actress.

          I was impressed, unexpectedly, with the film when it was focused on Cooper’s release from the hospital and the family dynamic, and which is had kept that at the center. Although was I the only person distracted by the fact that there was apparently only one police officer in the Philadelphia area and he patrolled the streets 24/7 just waiting for Bradley Cooper to get into a fight? :)

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