Oscar Upheaval: What does 'Argo' Globes victory mean?

AFFLECK-GLOBES

Image Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Getty Images

prize_fighter1_bannerEvery time it seems like the dust is settling, something kicks it back up again.

Just days after Ben Affleck’s epic directing snub for Argo seemed to invalidate that movie’s chances of winning Best Picture, it seems to be emerging as … the frontrunner?

Note the question mark in bold.

Argo won both best director and best drama at the Golden Globes last night (after claiming similar honors at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards on the night of the snub-tastic nominations), and even though there is no crossover between those groups and Academy voters, the victories have become rallying points for those who feel Affleck was done a grievous wrong. (The more divisive Kathryn Bigelow of Zero Dark Thirty and Tom Hooper of Les Miserables, also left off the Academy’s director list, don’t seem to be generating the same backlash. At least, not that I’ve heard so far.)

Could Argo claim the Oscar for Best Picture as the rest of the Academy tries to compensate for the directors branch overlooking him?

That was a theory put forth by many awards insiders and Academy voters at the parties last night. “If I were the frontrunner, I’d be worried,” said one member.

That means, once again, somebody needs to keep an eye on Lincoln’s back.

In many ways, the Golden Globes — presented by the 90-odd members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — are more irrelevant than ever. This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved its nominations to a few days before the Globes, and removed even the perception that the Oscar nods are shaped by what happens on the NBC telecast.

Nominees still turn up for the telecast because the nationwide broadcast is great exposure and a useful campaign stop.

Les Miserables‘ Anne Hathaway spent a lot of time in her acceptance speech for best supporting actress praising  Lincoln‘s Sally Field, her closest rival in the category. It was a classy move by Hathaway, but also a shrewd one. Frontrunners stay frontrunners by staying humble.

Daniel Day-Lewis also gave a charming, modest speech after claiming best dramatic actor — which seemed like it might become a song as he kept talking while music rose to play him off. At this point, after winning virtually everything, one imagines he could spike the trophy on the ground and just shout, “YEEEEEAAAAAHH, BOI-YEEE!” into the microphone while pumping his fist. But instead, he has remained the consummate charmer.

Spielberg’s loss to Affleck deprived him of a chance to be charming at the microphone. While being Steven Spielberg certainly has advantages, he faces a fair amount of jealousy, too. He has been unfairly snubbed plenty of times by the Academy, but still — he’s no one’s idea of an underdog. We’d like to pretend these things don’t factor into the awards race, but they absolutely do. In that strange way, Spielberg is so successful that it does kind of make him an underdog — or at least presents a formidable challenge. (How’s that for circuitous logic?)

As for predictions, perhaps the more tuned you are to the frequency of Academy voters, the less likely you are to gauge who will be honored by the HFPA, which is known to be wooed by affable celebrities and strong-arm executives.

That’s where I went astray in guessing Lincoln, which had a leading 12 Oscar nominations on Thursday, would win the best drama prize and that Steven Spielberg would win best director.

Luckily, your humble Prize Fighter correspondent did all right with the rest, correctly predicting:

A Les Mis victory for best comedy/musical.

Hugh Jackman taking comedy/musical actor.

Silver Linings Playbook‘s Jennifer Lawrence for comedy/musical actress

Lincoln‘s Daniel Day-Lewis for dramatic actor

Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica Chastain for best dramatic actress

Les Mis‘ Hathaway for supporting actress

Best song for Adele’s Skyfall theme

Best foreign film for Amour

•  Mychael Danna’s original score to Life of Pi was my “should win” suggestion, though I thought they might go for Lincoln‘s John Williams.

I thought Django Unchained would win in the supporting category, though I picked Leonardo DiCaprio instead of Christoph Waltz. And I was sure Tony Kushner would win screenplay for Lincoln instead of Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained. In fairness, even he seemed surprised. (Or was that spit-take planned?) I was also off with animated feature, forecasting Wreck-It Ralph when Brave won the day.

Not a great showing. I did well with Oscar nominations predictions, but could’ve fared better at the Globes. Affleck had been my guess for the HFPA’s director choice a week earlier (based on their love of stars), but I hopped on the Argo-is-done train after the Oscar snub.

That train seems to be coming back around.


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