“Argo” director Ben Affleck has continued the winning streak he began at the Golden Globes and maintained at last weekend’s Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild of America Awards.
Earlier at last night’s 65th annual Directors Guild of America Awards Dinner, Affleck’s honor didn’t seem like a done deal when rival Steven Spielberg received a standing ovation. Had the tide shifted back to the three-time DGA winner with his passion project, “Lincoln”?
But, no, that round of applause while leg-stretching was a consolation prize, an ovation but no award. It was a total "We love you, BUT… step aside, Stevie."
Still, Spielberg could end up winning the Oscar because Affleck isn’t even nominated as a director. Shame on you, Academy!
How did this enormous snub occur? Blame this year’s fluky awards calendar where the Academy tried to get the jump on the guilds and the critics groups to break news. They had already voted for their nominees by January 4th, while the DGA didn’t announce their nominees until January 8th. In other words, the Oscar-voters didn’t have their usual crib sheet.
That changed the race – and Oscar history. It orphaned DGA nominees Ben Affleck (“Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) without Oscar nominations. Only two of the DGA nominees – Spielberg and Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) – will now compete for the gold statuette against David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Michael Haneke (“Amour”) and first-time director Benh Zeitlin (“The Beasts of the Southern Wild"). And we spin again.
Historically, the DGA winner becomes the favorite to walk away with the Oscar, too. Since 1949, when Harry S. Truman was the U.S. President, there were only six exceptions to this pattern, including “Cabaret” director Bob Fosse beating out Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather” in 1972 at the Academy Awards, and Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” trumping Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13” in 1995.
The DGA Awards also foreshadow the best picture winner. Fifty times since 1949, the film directed by the DGA’s pick for best director went on to win the best picture. Now, there will be even more reason for the Academy members to belatedly show Affleck and his movie the love by delivering best picture to “Argo” on February 24th.
In other honors, the DGA awarded the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary to Malik Bendjelloul for “Searching for Sugarman.” The debut feature, which also won the PGA last weekend, is now the obvious Oscar favorite.
Watch a scene from the award-winning 'Argo':