Oscar Talk: Can Big Ben Get It Done?

Posted by: Michael Walkey  //  February 18, 2013 @ 8:35pm

Filed under: Walkey Talk

After criticising how predictable the Oscar race has become in recent years, it was almost as if Hollywood heard me and decided to turn this year's race into one of the most interesting. With the big event only a few days away, let me bring you up to speed.

Let's start way back in September, at the Toronto International Film Festival, which in modern years has been widely known as the kick off to Oscar season. It's basically a preview of all the "important" or "prestige" films the industry will be talking about for the next five months. It's pretty common for a Best Picture favourite to emerge from the festival a la The King's Speech, or Slumdog Millionaire. This year was no different as Ben Affleck's Argo was very well received and positioned itself as the picture to beat. That was September.

I think everyone believed that Argo was a well made movie that would probably get a nomination, but its chances of winning Best Picture were slim compared to the heavy hitters that were yet to open. By November, the shoo-ins for nominations were Lincoln, Les Miserables, and Zero Dark Thirty. The most likely list was Argo, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, and Django Unchained. Long shots included Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall, The Impossible, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Amour and Beasts of Southern Wild. And that's it. No other film was ever truly in the running. Sorry to break it to all you Perks of Being a Wallflower fans out there (to which I am one) but that film never really stood a chance.

Anyways, Christmas and New Years came and went. Les Miserables burned up the box office and Zero Dark Thirty started finding itself atop many best of the year lists, thus, becoming the two films to beat. Flash forward to mid January, and a funny thing happened on the way to the Oscar nominations. Controversy surrounding both films began to heat up. For Zero Dark Thirty it was a question of how vital torture was in finding Bin Laden. For Les Miserables, the controversy surrounded its quality. The beloved Broadway musical adapted for the screen was showered with praise upon its initial release with Anne Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" receiving universal acclaim. Then after a few weeks, people came to their senses and realized that aside from Anne Hathaway, the rest of Les Miserables was long and boring.

The result? Directing nomination snubs for both films, virtually eliminating their chances of winning Best Picture. As it turned out, Ben Affleck got dissed too, crossing Argo off the list and clearing the path for Lincoln to become the favourite. Even Vegas odds makers agreed.

So what the hell happened? After picking up awards from every major guild in the industry: actors, writers, and directors, we are now sitting mere days away and Argo has somehow climbed back into the public's consciousness as the odds on favourite. It's not even my opinion anymore. I was one of the Argo naysayers and even I've changed my tune. If Argo wins Best Picture, it will be only the fourth film to do so without being nominated for Best Director. That's 4 out of 85 years! That's less than 5 percent. Let me put it another way: when the nominations were announced this year, Argo had a 95% chance of NOT winning Best Picture, and now it's the favourite! What in the world happened?

Do you believe in karma? If Ben Affleck was nominated, I'd bet money we'd be awaiting another snoozefest of an Oscar telecast as we watched Lincoln sweep through the awards. But not nominating Ben Affleck for Best Director was the best thing to happen for Argo's chances at winning best picture. There's actually belief in Hollywood that so many people in the Academy were so upset at Ben Affleck's snub that they're overcompensating by voting the film Best Picture. Could this be true? And would this actually work? The answer is yes and yes. You see, the Best Picture Oscar is awarded to the film's producer, which is none other than Hollywood's 2012 golden boy, Mr. Affleck. So as it turns out, Ben will get his Oscar if the Academy chooses to vote Argo for Best Picture, and all of a sudden everyone will forget about that snub.

Democracy's a sneaky one, ain't it?

Don't believe me? Then Argo F**k Yourself!

Tags: Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Walkey Talk

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