A snub by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences along with a series of wins from the Producers Guild of America (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and most recently the Directors Guild of America (DGA), have set up a major Hollywood power struggle in the lead up to the Oscars.
On one side of the power struggle is an institution, the longtime heralded filmmaker Steven Spielberg, and on the other an upstart, the comeback kid Ben Affleck.
Spielberg's “Lincoln” and Affleck's “Argo” will go head to head in the best picture category of the upcoming Academy Awards.
Films released during awards season are often prestige-seeking vehicles, and these two movies are no exceptions. Many Oscar watchers had picked “Lincoln” to sweep three of the major categories that are in contention: best film, best director, and best screenplay adaptation.
However, Spielberg and his camp have seen their Oscar fortunes slip considerably, while Affleck’s film has captured almost all of the award granting momentum.
“Argo” took the most coveted awards at each of the aforementioned guild ceremonies. This past Saturday Affleck’s film received the top trophy at the DGA awards, where Hollywood’s comeback kid beat out four veteran directors and was graced with the DGA award for his direction of “Argo.” Affleck bested Spielberg (“Lincoln”), Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), and Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”).
All four of those with whom Affleck had competed had won DGA directors awards in the past and had subsequently gone on to grab the best direction Oscar.
The DGA win is an embarrassment of sorts for the Academy, which in its nominating process engaged in a major undeserved snub by not giving a best director nod to Affleck.
Meanwhile Spielberg, who with his “Lincoln” nom had his DGA nomination tally in the director category rise to 11, came up shorthanded this time around.
In making an argument for either “Argo” or “Lincoln” to take a best picture Oscar, historical precedent sheds some light.
During the last decade and a half, all of the films but one that swept the PGA, SAG, and DGA awards also went on to win a best picture Oscar, a statistic in which the “Argo” team can take comfort. For although the Affleck snub makes it all the more likely that Spielberg will win the Academy Award for direction, Academy members may decide to reward Affleck with the only choice before them and give him a best picture statue.
Still, the Spielberg camp will likely keep its focus on the fact that only one film in Oscar history (“Driving Miss Daisy”) has ever been able to win the best picture award without also having garnered a nomination for best director.
There was a hint of frustration regarding the unusual pre-Oscar season in a quip that was made at the DGA awards by the “Lincoln” director.
“What an incredible year for movies,” Spielberg said. “Maybe I've had moments when I wished it wasn't such an incredible year.”
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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