How 'Argo's' SAG Win is Shaking Up Oscar's Best Picture Race (Analysis)
'Argo,' 'Silver Linings Playbook' Win ACE Eddie Awards
If the movie that you're supporting for the best picture Oscar is not named Argo, it's officially time to start panicking.
What appeared to be a wide-open race just weeks ago -- really up until the Academy's directors branch declined to nominate Argo's director, Ben Affleck, for the best director Oscar -- has rapidly morphed into one that has been dominated by the Warner Bros. dramatic-thriller. On Jan. 10 it won the best picture and best director Critics' Choice awards. On Jan. 13 it won the best picture (drama) and best director Golden Globe Awards. And then this weekend, on back-to-back nights, it won the PGA and SAG's top prizes -- best theatrical motion picture and outstanding performance by a cast in motion picture (a.k.a. best ensemble), respectively -- neither of which it had been widely expected to win.
Many predicted that the PGA would go for Lincoln (and namely Steven Spielberg and his longtime but still Oscar-less producer Kathleen Kennedy). As for SAG, it was supposed to be the place where Silver Linings Playbook (which had nominees in three of SAG's four categories for individuals and made their film available to the entire SAG membership via screeners, streaming, and movie theater vouchers) or Les Miserables (which, like most of the ensemble category's past winners, had the longest cast list on this year's SAG ballot) would mark the beginning of a comeback.
Instead, it has been all Argo, all the time -- its funny and heroic portrayal of a producer (played by its best supporting actor Oscar nominee Alan Arkin) certainly didn't hurt it with the PGA and its filmmakers' talking-point about it featuring 120 speaking parts undoubtedly boosted it with SAG -- which is not good news for the other eight best picture Oscar nominees -- the aforementioned three, plus Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty.
There are statistics that suggest Argo can still be stopped at the Oscars: namely, only one film in the last 80 years has won the best picture Oscar without also receiving a best director nomination, and two films have won the PGA and SAG prizes and still lost the best picture Oscar, Apollo 13 (1995) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
Plus, other films have been given some reason for hope by the Academy itself. Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Life of Pi all scored directing, screenplay and film editing noms, without which few films have ever won best picture. Lincoln scored the most overall nominations (12) and has grossed more domestically than any of the other best picture nominees ($164 million and counting), two things that it shares in common with most past winners. Silver Linings Playbook, which became the first film in 31 years to score an acting nomination in all four of the acting Oscar categories, clearly has tremendous support from the Academy's actors branch, which accounts for 20% of its overall membership. And Life of Pi became only the fourth film to ever score nominations in all seven of the technical Oscar categories.
Moreover, since the Oscar nominations were announced, Les Mis won a Golden Globe for best picture (Argo won the drama category and Les Mis won the musical or comedy category) and Zero Dark Thirty has become a major box-office hit and topic of national debate.