DGA analysis: Unlike ‘Apollo 13,’ ‘Argo’ isn’t coming back to earth

Ben Affleck after winning the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film on Saturday night.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
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Those belonging to the camps of the eight movies not titled “Argo” that are competing for this year’s best picture Oscar went to bed last night with one film title on their minds: “Apollo 13.”

Like Ben Affleck and “Argo,” Ron Howard’s 1995 space drama blitzed through the awards season, winning honors from the Producers Guild and Directors Guild, as well as the Screen Actors Guild’s newly minted film ensemble award. And on Oscar night, it lost best picture to “Braveheart.”

Affleck won the DGA’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film award Saturday night the same way Howard did in 1996 -- without the benefit of an Oscar nomination. Both began their careers as actors, though by the time he made “Apollo 13,” Howard was long out of that game.


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Affleck, meanwhile, headlined his own movie. And as he joked upon receiving his DGA medallion at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, “This is very intimidating to me ... I feel like I should be auditioning.” Dude’s not exiling himself behind the camera any time soon.

Affleck is likely to be on stage at the winner’s podium at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24 with fellow “Argo” producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov, accepting the Oscar for best picture. Even with the start of balloting still days away, there aren’t many ways to spin the best picture race that doesn’t feature an “Argo” outcome.

Although many see a connection between all the “Argo” victories that have occurred since Affleck lost out on an Oscar nomination for director, it might make more sense to consider the academy snub as an awards-season anomaly. The academy directors branch, consisting of just 371 members out of a total active membership of 6,014, didn’t appreciate Affleck, but they’re clearly in the minority, both in terms of actual voting numbers as well as their opinion.

And that’s another reason that the “Argo” opposition’s last-gasp hope -- that Oscar voters will look at all this awards-season love and somehow wearily decide that enough is enough -- is patently absurd. People in Hollywood, like moviegoers in general, genuinely like this movie. And with a preferential system that rewards films that voters rank near the top of their ballot, passion counts and polarity dooms.

The makers of “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi” and “Silver Linings Playbook” and the other five best picture nominees can go ahead and dream a dream about “Apollo 13.” But “Argo” isn’t coming back down to earth any time soon.



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