There’s a very interesting thing happening this awards season. The believed to be front-runner for Oscar’s biggest award, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”, finds itself in the dust of the surprising “Argo”, Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage thriller. I loved “Argo” as did many others and I have no problem with its award season success, but very few people saw this one coming. Sunday night it took home the biggest prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards to go along with the top prize it won at The Golden Globes. So now all eyes are on The Academy Awards. But for “Argo” to pull one final rabbit out of its hat it’s going to have to buck a pretty established trend.
In what I believe are two of the most inexplicable snubs in Oscar history, the Academy failed to give director nominations to either Affleck for “Argo” or Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty”. Bigelow has won several recent awards including the Best Director nod from the New York Film Critics. But it’s “Argo” that’s really running wild and it’s “Argo” that could be the fly in the Academy’s soup. You see the winner of the Best Director Oscar is almost always a sign of who will win Best Picture. It’s extremely, extremely rare for a Best Picture winner to not also take home the Best Director Oscar. So what is the Academy to do? This spotlights their blatant snubs even more and with them comes real questions of motivation.
Could it be the Academy is punishing Bigelow and Affleck for the perceived politics behind their films? Now I think anyone watching these two fantastic movies with an ounce of objectivity has to conclude that both are simply telling stories and not trying to make a huge political point. Perhaps that’s why I loved them so much. I get tired of being force-fed political perspective at the expense of good storytelling. Both of these movies are set in politically charged climates yet both Affleck and Bigelow allow the audience to process the politics. In fact, for me both pictures go beyond politics and into much deeper and more personal areas – something I can really appreciate.
So what else could the Academy’s beef be with Affleck and Bigelow? Both have created strong and challenging movies that certainly deserve to be nominated. Could it be that the Academy is unhappy with Affleck and Bigelow’s failure to use their opportunity to put a hard political slant on their films? Are they angry because they see the two films as leaning too much to the political right? Whatever the inexcusable reasoning is behind it the Academy has dropped the ball and now “Argo” is bringing it all into the light. I love it!