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Making Peace With "Argo". How Many Oscars Will It Win?

When Best Picture locks up each year -- which usually happens sooner than February 2nd so we should count our blessings that this year had more drama! -- the best thing that one can do is find a way to make peace with it. I've followed the Oscars long enough to know that when your absolute favorite in a category wins you should feel rapturous but treat it like its as rare as Brigadoon since you might never see it's like again. The trick to staying sane (not that I've actually mastered this, mind you) is to enjoy the annual awards festivities without caring about the winners so much as the journey to crown them. In its better moments the awards season circus provides plenty of entertainment, delectable star-gazing, and even the occasional conversational or critical insight into what makes particularly movies great or what makes people love particular movies despite their unfortunate lack of greatness.

I've learned to enjoy it when anything in my top ten each year wins something since, in most years, actual favorites are not crowned. It's harder though to enoy your non-favorites winning when they're solidly in the middle of the pack or when a particular forthcoming win defeats something clearly masterful.

Which brings us to Argo...

...Ben Affleck won the Directors Guild Awards last night for helming that retro true story thriller. The DGA prize generally coincides with Oscar's eventual choice but of course, Affleck was not nominated in that category, only for producing Argo (he wins his second Oscar if its wins Best Picture). I've said since its premiere months ago that it was definitely a possibility to win the industry's most coveted prize. It's been at or near the top of the pack the whole time. Oscar discourse on the internet can be very silly with its bipolar moods and binary thinking ("LOCKED!" "IT'S OVER!") but even through that brief period when many pundits (though not all) had said 'stick a fork in it, it's done' when the buzz for at least three other films rose above it only to fall again, I never waivered that it was still in the "fighting for the win" conversation for reasons discussed previously. Even when Affleck was the surprise odd man out on Oscar nomination morning in the Director's Branch I didn't think it was over for the film. I LIVED THROUGH DRIVING MISS DAISY, PEOPLE. (I should get that on a t-shirt.)

[Editor's Note: For the youngest Oscar fanatics who've somehow missed this oft told statistic, Driving Miss Daisy (1989) is the most recent Best Picture winner that was not nominated for Best Director. People are always fond of saying "this can't happen because ____ " but it's never true. Rules generally have exceptions and if they don't, they eventually will find one. People sometimes like to say in retrospect that Brokeback Mountain was doomed the second it was snubbed in Editing but you can win without that key category, too, though the last film to do that was Ordinary People (1980)]

Now, Argo would not make an embarrassing Best Picture winner so the comparison with Driving Miss Daisy should end there (though in truth Driving Miss Daisy's win isn't quite as bad as it seems in retrospect once you put it in the context of 89's dumb missed-the-boat-entirely roster) but since i'd rank Argo as solidly middle of the pack in its roster...


  • Bonafide Greats: Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Masterful Moments: Les Misérables,  Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty
    ... all five on my top ten list
  • Hit & Miss / Solid Entertainments: Argo, Django Unchained
  • Intriguing Elements But Not For Me: Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook

... I'm having trouble staving off the woulda coulda shoulda blues about the dwindling prospects of the other films. And I have trouble doing that each year because I'm more of a 'spread the wealth' type of soul but spreading the wealth is anathema to awards voters as we see each year; they love their bandwagons. 

The problem is less, as I see it, that Argo will almost certainly win Best Picture on February 24th. The only thing that could stop it post SAG, DGA, and PGA prizes is a collective "have we taken this 'Poor Ben Affleck' meme too far as an industry... why are we feeling sorry for Ben F'ing Affleck?!?" once voting begins. It seems strange to realize it but voting still hasn't begun! No, the problem is, as I see it, which other prizes will Argo win because Best Pictures always win other Oscars, too. In almost every category in which its featured I think it would be a real shame if it won the trophy -- not because it's not a good movie (it is) but because its not the best or even the second best in any of those categories... so it'll be tought to make peace with. 

My favorite imaginary outcome on Oscar night would be to see ARGO only take home the Best Picture trophy. That hasn't happened since the 1930s when there were far fewer categories. Statistics are even against it winning only two trophies. The last Best Picture winner to do that was 60 years ago (The Greatest Show on Earth) In fact, only one Best Picture winner in the modern era (i.e. 80s and onwards) has taken home less than 4 statues and that was Crash (2005) which won three. So which of its nominations can Argo win?

EDITING. I know a lot of people think Argo is masterfully tense but I found some of its final act to be verging on cheap trick pumping up the suspense   --will they answer the phone? Will they make it off the runway? --  like a train heading towards a damsel in distress tied to the tracks and no matter how fast the train is barrelling forward, each time we see it, it hasn't yet run her over. I think Zero Dark Thirty has a far more impressive rhythmic propulsiveness in its climax... but Oscar isn't as over the moon for that film as they might've been. Likelihood of Winning: Very Likely.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: This less than electric field guarantees a second win for someone, but who? Given that Alan Arkin has the least challening role among the nominees and that they owe him nothing (this'd be a slam dunk if he hadn't won for Little Miss Sunshine) it would require an absolute rallying 'give Argo everything!' movement just as some might be starting to question whether Argo should be winning each prize its up for. Still in a field this casually 'oh yeah, them' anything might happen. Likelihood of Winning: Unlikely unless things go poorly for Lincoln on Oscar night.

SOUND MIXING & SOUND EDITING: If Oscar wants to award Skyfall or Zero Dark Thirty somewhere, this is where they'll do it. Likelihood of Winning: It's a tossup but the other nominees are showier than Argo so I'm guessing these prizes slip away. At the very least it'll lose one of them.

ORIGINAL SCORE: Here's an interesting contest. Life of Pi has some forward momentum for Mychael Danna (enjoying his first two nominations) but Argo's Alexandre Desplat still hasn't won after four nominations and a million great scores. Likelihood of Winning: This score will never be in Desplat's greatest hits but I think he might win the Oscar for it anyway. 50/50.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: here's the category I will be biting my nails through. "Argo Fuck Yourself" which is repeated endlessly in the movie is a catchphrase verging on "show me the money" proportions now and as silly as it sounds it could tip this category in Argo's favor. Likelihood of Winning: If Argo Mania doesn't subside soon,  Chris Terrio may well edge out the genius Tony Kushner for Lincoln. It's not that Terrio's screenplay isn't strong. It's just that we're talking Tony Kushner and his work on Lincoln. It'll be the arguably biggest travesty of the Argo vs. Lincoln wars but I actually think (at this writing) that it's going to happen.

My Guess: Three Oscars for Argo (Picture, Editing, and either Score or Adapted Screenplay) but I'm guessing Life of Pi and Lincoln fight for "most Oscar wins" of the evening despite losing Best Picture.

Have you made peace with Argo's ascendance or are you cheering it on? How many Oscars do you think it'll win?


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Reader Comments (58)

Well said, Nathaniel.
I'm definitely STILL making peace with it. Why would anyone find that climax suspenseful is truly beyond me. Of course they're going to pick up the phone, and of course they're going to get away untouched. And I don't really believe that having one success at work will solve all your family/relationship problems too. Yeah, wouldn't that nice.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I think Argo was a fine movie, and far more entertaining than Beasts of the Southern Wilde. I've seen 5 films on the Best Picture roster and I think Argo and Les Miserables are the two best by far. Zero Dark Thirty to me felt somewhat derivative and comparable to a show like Homeland on TV. Argo was creative, and richly told.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOrrin K

I predict three wins: Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Editing. probably Score, however I think Life of Pi is still strong contender in this category.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNika

I've made peace with Argo. In my ranking, Amour and Zero Dark are way ahead of the rest of the pack, but anything else makes a perfectly fine winner, flawed but worthwhile films, the lot of them.
The best thing about Argo, and its guild sweep is how up-in-the-air it makes best director. I'm looking forward to that category in a big way.
Did you have a favorite nominee for best picture 1989?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

There's one thing you're not giving Argo credit for here, Nat and it's the thing that impressed me the most about it. The way it mixes tones without ever seeming like two different movies. Argo is a Middle-Eastern thriller and a Hollywood satire, both halves feeding into each other and making it all work. That's the part I admired about it and it's the reason why I think it would be a worthy winner for Adapted Screenplay. Yes, Tony Kushner's Lincoln script is fantastic but I don't think it's as perfectly untouchable as you think it is. I found some of it rather over-written and like most people, I wasn't really fond of the film's bookends. Argo is a tighter script, where everything that happens feeds into the next. It also some pretty good dialogue, and I don't really mind the "Argo fuck yourself" line because it sounds like something Hollywood people would come up with and want to use as a catchphrase. These are Hollywood people, of course they'll want to give themselves a catchphrase, which is why I think the constant use of that line is spot on (these characters probably think it's more clever than the writer thinks it is, which to me is brilliant).

I also think you're underrating Alan Arkin. He's not the best in the line-up by a longshot, but the performance is really good in my opinion. The only way this character is similar to his character in Little Miss Sunshine is that they are both old men with regrets, but their regrets are different. In Little Miss Sunshine, Grandpa is a man who regrets not living the life he wanted and is trying to do everything society never allowed him to do, only he's stuck in a society that kicks him out of a retirement home just for snorting heroin and a son who is so obsessed with winning, he's trying to show him how meaningless it is to win. In Argo, Lester Siegel is a Hollywood producer who has been living in this bullshit business for so long. Everything he has done is artificial and meaningless and the reason he accepts this mission is because he finally has a chance to be a part of something real. Something that will make a difference. There are two scenes in the film that I think gave Arkin the Oscar nomination. One is the scene where he watches the TV and sees what's going on in Iran that convinces him to join the mission. Here we see a man touched by the realities of the world and realizing he might be able to do something to change that and immediately says he wants to be a part of that (of course, all he says is "we need a script", but the way Arkin sells the subtext with his face is remarkable). The other is that scene in the fountain with Ben Affleck where Lester talks about his daughters and we see this as a man who wishes he had lived a different life. The thing about Arkin is that he can make every character very lived in, even if he never seems like he's trying (although to be fair, you keep praising Mark Ruffalo for that, for never seeming like he's trying).

Anyway, as you can see, I'm a fan of Argo. I think every film nominated for Best Picture this year has a lot of merit and my favorite is actually Beasts of the Southern Wild (actually, my favorite of the year is Moonrise Kingdom, but that's not nominated), but I would be okay with Argo winning. I think Ben Affleck is a terrific director and I've loved all three films he's directed so far, so I would have no problem with Argo winning Best Picture.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

At this point, I don't think it's all pity for Ben Affleck...they must like the film. I mean, Tom Hooper cleaned up not that long ago and The King's Speech was not as good as Argo. And then there was The Artist.

I agree if Kushner loses WGA and then the Oscar, that will be very sad. And even though this film isn't on the level of Driving Miss Daisy, it will be remembered similarly. And I do think Affleck will face backlash for the pity party, which is a shame since it's not like he courted it. It was the media that made this into a big to-do.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Not making peace. Still holding on to my prediction of Lincoln's taking the night. Hey, you know what else won DGA + PGA + SAG? Apollo 13. And of course, Ron Howard was snubbed that year, too.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

I have no problem with Argo winning. It's not my favorite; ZDT, Beasts, and Amour tower over the other nominees in my opinion, but I thoroughly enjoyed Argo and really, all of the nominees are solid movies at the least.

Besides, I'm still trying to make peace with DDL beating Joaquin Phoenix. I may not accept it until it actually happens and maybe not even then.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAR

I'm just curious about this: what movie do you think should have won the year Driving Miss Daisy did? I clearly remember Born on the Fourth of July was the favorite, but, both back then and on repeated viewings, I always found that Oliver Stone film flawed, boring, and lacking the appeal a biopic should have in order to be "interesting"... the remaining three nominees were "Dead Poets Society", "Field of Dreams" and "My Left Foot".. so.. who were you rooting for back then?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

Three sounds about right (Score, probably?), but as long as it wins Editing, it's in the game for Best Picture, I think. I still think Lincoln ultimately makes more sense but this isn't exactly a King's Speech/Social Network situation.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

I think this question (How many Oscars will Argo win?) is, along with the Best Director race, one of the two remaining bits of intrigue in this year's awards season.

In defense of Argo's editing, while I too thought that it felt a bit over-dramatized, I'd argue that you have to do something to draw out suspense in a story where the ending is already known. Of course folks also know the ending to ZDT, but in that case, there's still the intrigue of seeing how it all went down since the event is recent and so shrouded in secrecy. With the less well-known, older story of Argo, you really don't have that option. I'd say that Argo's editing shows an A+ understanding of how audiences respond to events on-screen... and that's just for the ending sequence. The opening attack on the embassy is even stronger and one of my favorite scenes of the year.

Regarding score, I think Desplat could very well win, particularly if Life of Pi cleans up in the visual categories and voters don't feel like they have to reward it here. I don't really care either way about this though as I think the year's (far and away) best score, that of Beasts of the Southern Wild, was horrifically snubbed.

So I'll say Argo will win Picture, Editing, and Score, with Kushner still winning Screenplay.

Also, I just realized, if you swap Argo and Amour (which I found drawn-out), we'd have approximately the same ranking of the BP contenders.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I'll only be pissed if Arkin wins for his nothing performance.

And this is all in all a pretty decent year for the Oscars Best Picture nominees:

The great: Silver Linings, Django
The really good: Amour, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln
The solid good: Beasts, Argo
The not bad: Life of Pi
The not good but not terrible either: Les Mis

That's pretty good if you ask me considering in previous years they nominated movies like The Fucking Blind Side.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Great post! Making peace sucks, but it is time to do so. I think Argo wins Pic, Edit, Adapt Screen, and Score (for now).

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark Johnson

First I thought: If Lincoln wins Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Director, how can it loose Best Picture? And then I remembered The Pianist :-)

My guesses at this point:

Argo: Picture, Editing, Sound Mixing, Score (probably), (and maybe Screenplay)
Lincoln: Actor, Screenplay (probably), Director (probably)
Life of Pi: Visual effects, Cinematography (probably), (and maybe Score and Director)
Skyfall: Sound Editing, Song (and maybe Cinematography (I wish))
Anna Karenina: Costume Design, Production Design

I have no idea yet who will win Actres, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor or Make-Up

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSijmen

My favorite rarely wins. It is what it is. But I agree with sad man that the list this year is okay. If something along the lines of "Extremely Boring and Incredibly Trite" were nominated this year, I would be more annoyed. But all in all, I can't point to one of the BP nominees this year and say that I would be really annoyed if it won (although Life of Pi is a weak movie outside of the technicals). Do I have my favorites? Yeah. Is Argo one of them? Not really. But, in the end, they came up with a good slate of nominees. So, I won't complain.

Also, Nat, I think you are giving Driving Miss Daisy a harder time than you should. Is it a great Oscar winner? Absolutely not. But there are worse Best Picture winners (ahem, Crash). And none of the nominees that year was particularly great. I don't know if you think Born of the Fourth of July was better. But I remember thinking of Born of the Fourth of July as Platoon: Part 2 (and sequels are never as good as the originals, right?), just as I think ZDT is kind of The Hurt Locker: Part 2. What else would you have nominated? Crimes and Misdemeanors? Cinema Paradiso? Valmont?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Thank you for your sensible approach, which I will try to emulate.
The Film Bitch awards are way more fun.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I've made peace with Argo, too. And it's such an honor to share the air that I breathe with the greatest filmmaker that has ever lived.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHannibal Lester

@Charlie G --
@Marco --- 89 was just a crap year with Oscar. They chose so poorly. I wasn't seeing as many movies back then nor was I as quick to see them (like i hadn't seen My Left Foot by the time of the Oscars so among the nominees my favorite was Born on the 4th of July... but i wouldn't have nominated it or anything. It was solid but not special (beyond Cruise who i thought was amazing). they just chose horribly that year. They could have had sex, lies and videotape (screenplay only?), The Fabulous Baker Boys (4 well deserved noms... but shoulda had a lot more), The Little Mermaid, Enemies: A Love Story, Do the Right Thing (only 2 noms? blargh)... Oscar was just a mess that year.

@Evan --
@ Richter Scale -- thank you for these impassioned defenses. Interesting commentary i shall think over!

February 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Life of Pi should win best picture, best director, cinematography, score, visual effects, art direction, sound editing
Amour should win best actress and foreign film
Django should win best original screenplay, sound mixing
Lincoln should win best actor, best adapted screenplay and supporting actor
Les Miserables should win best supporting actress
Ann Karenina best costumes
The Hobbit best make up
Argo should win best editing
Skyfall should win best song

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLuis

Can't be worse that 'Crash (or, Trash)' winning. Funny that now those campaigners are behind Argo this time.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThe Infamous

This feels like a year where passion has driven everything straight to the middle, which is where Argo sits. If it plays out as it appears it will, the Academy wouldn't have embarrassed themselves by any stretch, but they will have done what they always seem to do, settle. You'd think that a situation like that would most benefit Lincoln, especially in light of its miraculous box office. I don't think 170 million (so far) for that movie can be overstated. Even with Spielberg at the helm, turning a somber, talky period piece into a box-office smash should've been viewed as at least the producing fete of the year, but I guess it really is being viewed as a one man show. So much so that adapted screenplay may not happen, and I think that would be a real shame. I think the idea of Argo may not sit so well with some is because it doesn't appear to be about the movies (is it ever?), it just feels like the the industry wanted to pat themselves on the back. Which is every year, but just so obvious this year. Hurray for Hollywood and George Clooney. As if that dude needed any more applause...

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Val -- good point on LINCOLN. weird that it hasn't been able to get the campaign working for any of these seemingly perfect angles. If only they would have advertised here at TFE. haha. that would've changed EVERYTHING ;)

February 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Having a hard time making my peace, too.

It's actually my fifth or sixth favorite of the year, and I think it's certainly better than The Artist or The King's Speech. That said, I thought that I would FINALLY see my favorite movie of the year (LIncoln) win Best Pic. It's popular, made lots of money, was made by an Academy-friendly director.... and yet still it looks like it won't make it.

If (when) it wins, I think it will be somewhere in the middle of the pack of history-not an embarrassment, but also not one of those years where they got it so right.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Val is absolutely right, and I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it yet: George Clooney was one of "Argo's" producers. It wins best picture, he finally gets another Oscar after losing for his brilliant bids in "Michael Clayton" "Up In The Air" and "The Descendants." Thus, voting for "Argo" is not just a consolation prize for Affleck, it's also gilt for Clooney. (And frankly, I wouldn't have a problem with it winning one bit--it was a terrific movie. Only an upset by "Silver Linings Playbook"--a ghastly but real possibility--will make me hurl things at my TV, a la 2006.)

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

The best we can hope for is that Affleck wins for Best Picture and that people think that's enough, otherwise he might pull a Ron Howard and A Beautiful Mind his way another oscar triumph (remember when Howard beat Lynch, Altman, Jackson and Scott? A true WTF moment).

RichterScale, I have to admit that while your defense is intriguing, I'm not quite sold. Firstly, In found the mixing of tones tonally terrible during one scene particularly: the mock execution being contrasted with the table reading. I have no idea what the intent behind that was, but the effect of seeing (anonymous, admittedly) hostages being tied up, blind folded and led to their deaths only for it be a mind game being edited against the table reading for a fake cheesy sci film film (where everyone is dressed in B-movie regalia) was jarring, to say the least - actively repulsive (my mind really rather checked out at this point) at worst.

Secondly, while it is a Hollywood satire and political procedural, both sides of the story are quite shallowly portrayed. There's a great deal of lip service in the Argo script to Hollywood mediocrity, just like there is lip service in the political side of things.

I'll defend Lincoln, including the opening bookend (not the closing one). It's deconstruction of a myth alone makes it one of the modern greats.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I'm not making peace with it and on top of that, it's not happening.

Argo may very well win Editing. It could also go home empty handed. None of the other categories make sense for a win outside of the obvious BP momentum. Here's the thing though: The Academy is not in love with Argo. Sure the sound nods were surprising, but it was clear on nominations morning that the five nominated Directors gave us three films with a powerful showing and two scrappy films they loved too much to ignore. Remember how everyone thought Zero Dark Thirty was the critical darling, "stealing all of Argo's momentum," and how it sailed through the critics' prizes? Didn't matter. They didn't love it. I'm assuming it was too cold for them.

So now everyone is falling over themselves to flip off the Academy for Affleck's snub (not even his best film, for the record). Not only will I stick with the Apollo 13 battle cry, but here's another important point - the Academy does not, and HAS NEVER, given a damn about popular opinion. They like what they like. They like biopics. They like films with emotion. They like films specifically marketed towards them. And yes, bless Anne Thompson, they like GRAVITAS. So Affleck can quit his whining (which, by the way, they really hate - he may be joining the ranks of Chris Nolan and Spike Lee if he doesn't knock it off). I don't buy it for a second. Yes, I'll be nervous right before they call Best Picture. I still think they'll go Lincoln.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Arkaan - I think the scene you're mentioning is a very effective way to keep the audience from losing sight of what this is really all about. Yes, we're seeing a table-read for a cheesy sci-fi film juxtaposed with something really awful, but if we didn't see that, then the audience might lose sight of the fact that all of this, the cheesy sci-fi film, the phony ads, the table-read, this is all being done to save people from suffering the fate that we almost saw in that scene. It may seem tasteless, but within the context of this mission where something tasteless is being used as a tool to save lives, it works. At least to me it worked. For the record, I love Lincoln and I really enjoyed the deconstruction of the myth as well as the ensemble work, I just don't think Argo deserves the beating it's getting. I think it's a better film than at least half of the films that won Best Picture last decade (Crash, Slumdog Millionaire, A Beautiful Mind, The King's Speech to name a few).....

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I'm fine with Argo winning.

1989 - For the love of Méliès, let's not forget Crimes and Misdemeanors!

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I think that ARGO won't win Oscar - simply because it has nothing to win except editing. And maybe adapted screenplay. It will be this year's APOLLO 13, not DRIVING MISS DAISY.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Cheering it on!! Though wish it was battling Les Mis for the win. In my dream Oscar night Argo wins Picture and Director and Les Mis wins Actor, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor. Of course Riva would get Actress as she might anyway.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrisD

I really liked this whole article, and not just because I agree with almost all of it! To include, I hate even imagining Argo's script beating Lincoln's, but we seem to be edging closer to that all the time, if we're not there already.

Since Peggy Sue added Crimes and Misdemeanors to the 1989 also-rans, can I also mention the single-nommed When Harry Met Sally..., which I believe should have swept the floor?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Talk about Tandy. You should get it all out there. She was as much an 80's darling as Miss Michelle. It was unfair that the clear favorite throughout the season lost, but like Cher beating her entire category in 1987—what are you going to do, hold a grudge? Apparently you can when you write a blog.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I'm a master at making peace with the Oscars as my taste tends to go to film genres that they don't really love, so I end up not having my favorite film of year in Best Picture (or in the case of TDKR this year, no category whatsoever). Besides, while I think Argo would be a pretty bland Best Picture winner, I'd rather it than Life Of Pi.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Whatever doubts I have about Argo will vanish if it wins the WGA. I'm already predicting it to win Best Picture, but that would seal the deal for me. Even Braveheart won the WGA back in 1995 after losing the PGA and DGA, so if Lincoln can't even win the WGA, it will have a seriously daunting statistic to overcome: no movie has ever won Best Picture without winning at least one of the four major guild prizes (PGA, DGA, SAG Ensemble, WGA). And Spielberg isn't nominated at the BAFTA's, so it's not like he can pick up any last-minute momentum there.

I'm currently predicting Life of Pi to win the most awards, but I think that no matter what, this is clearly not a year where any one movie will sweep. I'd be surprised if any movie won more than 5 awards, and even that seems unlikely.

My predictions for each of the Best Picture nominees:

Life of Pi- 4 (Director, Cinematography, Visual Effects, Original Score)
Argo- 3 (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing)
Lincoln- 3 (Actor, Supporting Actor, Production Design)
Les Miserables- 3 (Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing, Makeup)
Amour- 2 (Foreign Language Film, Original Screenplay)
Silver Linings Playbook- 1 (Actress)

Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Zero Dark Thirty go home empty-handed.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

I'm intrigued that you think Lincoln is going to win more Oscars than Argo when, like me, you think the latter is taking Adapted Screenplay.

Seems to me, then, that the best-case scenario for Lincoln is winning Director, Actor and Supporting Actor, thereby tying Argo's total of three. You really think it's winning anything below the line?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

1989 had Drugstore Cowboy and sex. lies and videotape. Plus Crimes and Misdemeanors and My Left Foot. Any one of those would have been a deserving nominee for Best Picture. But to exclude Do the Right Thing from the race throws all credibility to the wind.

And a great upset pair of wins for Day-Lewis and Fricker. Everyone forgets that they were up against the Golden Globe winners Cruise and Roberts. So I was okay with Tandy and Washington winning; I was beyond thrilled with DDL & BF.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I am fine with Argo winning best picture. I mean really - who cares. It's the vanilla yogurt of the field, and people like them some vanilla yogurt.

However, the idea of Chris Terrio beating Tony Kushner fills me with dismay. That shit just cannot happen. It can't! Nothing against Terrio, but come the fuck on...

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I'm not at peace with it because I can't imagine any director going "wow, Argo inspired me to pick up a camera and experiment!" and yet it just won the DGA, so what the hell do I know? I love all of Affleck's movies right up until their endings, which I think are universally terrible.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

Guy -- well the adapted screenplay, i'm not sure about. I'm feeling pessimistic now. But i do think Lincoln has a longshot shot at some below the line stuff like score not due to the score but that Williams hasn't won in 20 years... and maybe Pi will go home empty-handed (Pi is the weirdest film to me this year because no one ever talks about it but it might actually go home with the most Oscars or the least)

anyway... i don't think any film is winning more than 4 this year. But that's good because spread the wealth years are better. I was just doing some oscar history work on the side and it's relatively horrifying how many films have won 6+ oscars. TOO MUCH.

February 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I agree with Val...it's weird to me that the Lincoln box office isn't being emphasized more. I mean, even this week, it climbed back into the Top 10. It's made nearly 200 million, and that's pretty major for such a grown-up movie.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

RichterScale, the thing is the audience shouldn't need that type of hand-holding. During the film, the scene is so viscerally off-putting that it didn't even enter my mind that the goal was to remind me that this is what they were doing it for. I hadn't actually forgotten, you know?

I think Argo is about on par with The Artist and The King's Speech - competent entertainments marred by a couple pieces of poor direction. Very middle of the pack that wouldn't bother me were it not for this "poor Affleck" narrative that has really taken hold.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Thanks for writing this, Nathaniel! I was thinking about this exact same thing the other day, but my conclusion was that maybe Lincoln will end up winning BP. The Academy is The Academy, their own thing with their own tastes, and, most importantly, it's not a summary of every other precursor and they don't owe Ben Affleck anything for snubbing him.

But now I'm not so sure. Affleck's been winning everything just in the right time. I really don't know what's going to happen. Lincoln is sure to win Best Actor and Director, and will very likely take Supporting Actor and Screenplay. Can you really lose Best Picture after all those wins? It's hard to think so, but it may very well happen this year,.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

Maybe YOU didn't need the reminder, but let's face it, we're not the average moviegoers (I also didn't need it, but the scene causes an impact and a film like this that depends on high stakes, you want to have impact). With something like Argo, it's very easy to get lost in the silliness of the Hollywood satire part of it that one can get distracted from the mission at hand. The main reason I don't mind that scene though, even if I can see why it might be off-putting, is that it presents the main irony of Argo and the reason why I love it. THIS is what they have to do to save lives. This is a mission to save people, something that most people take incredibly seriously, but in order to do that they have to do something incredibly silly, promote one of the worst scripts they could find (what do they care if it sucks? it's not going to get made anyway) and create this entire charade that will make their stories believable. That's my main reason for loving Argo, that irony of using something so artificial and meaningless in order to do something that means that much, which is saving lives (I always enjoy irony). Also, it presents a moment in history I wasn't really aware of, the siege of the American embassy in Iran (I'm not from the U.S. and this event is rarely talked about where I'm from) and the events leading up to it, so it was a treat to learn about that (I think that prologue is brilliantly concieved and I love how it criticizes American involvement, even though the film is about an American agent saving American lives, another irony) and even if it does fall into some clichés, the experience of watching kept me riveted. I don't mind clichés if they are used effectively and I think Argo was very effective in that regard.....

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

It should win best adapted screenplay Chris Terio might not be a genius- but he did a fantastic job.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

But should he receive an oscar for that, Richter?

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Finally someone has addressed Academy Award history. Not letting other awards step on picking wisely. Bravo, bravo!
The question Hollywood has to answer is Argo - Grand Hotel or Crash

I think they are so taken with putting Argo in entertainment history - and never letting America forgot Hollywood had something to do with foreign policy - that they will ride with the one trick pony, Best Picture.

Again nice read nice job

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrobert L

I think that if I was the on team Argo I'd be a little nervous right about now. I do really love Lincoln, Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, so that may be coloring my perspective. I think Argo is fine and I have no problems with it winning. I just can't help but think that this extended phase 2 of Oscar season is going to hurt Argo. A lot of pundits have been raising the argument that it's Argo and it arguably always has been, the only people disagreeing with that being the directors branch of the Academy. But Academy members don't even have their ballots yet. There is so much time for either Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook to pull ahead (those two plus the aforementioned Argo are, at this point, the only three films I could conceivably see winning). Harvey's going to hit the gas hard, probably going after the voters who don't feel like voting for Lincoln or Argo. I could see this going any number of ways and that in itself is exciting.

My long, rambling point is that I think a lot of people are trying to use stats and precedent to point to definite win for Argo because of the guilds sweep. However, the fact is that Argo, by sweeping the guilds without a corresponding directing nod at AMPAS has already defied most of the usual stats and precedent. Because of the compressed phase 1 and the extended phase 2 of Oscar season, there really is no precedent for what could happen this year. But, obviously it does look like Argo's to lose, which I am more or less fine with.

Here is how I see Argo's chance of multiple wins

Lincoln or Life of PI
Argo loses

Sound Editing
Life of Pi or Skyfall
Argo loses

Sound Mixing
Les or Lincoln
Argo loses

Film Editing
Zero Dark Thirty
possible Argo win

Supporting Actor
Lincoln or De Niro
Argo loses

Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook
Argo Loses

How can Argo win this and be the Oscar's one trick pony in Oscar History

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrobert L

My theory is that if people DO vote for ARGO in best picture, then they will also vote for it in adapted screenplay/editing/maybe score. If they don't then they won't feel the need to, but I can't imagine many voters in this day and age giving a film best picture on their ballot and nothing else.

As for the editing, I think it's marvellous. Given we (mostly) all know the ending, the fact that they were able to make it such a tense reveal shows how skilled the editing it (I felt). etc etc I loved ARGO. :)

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

robert l - well, there's a first time for everything (though there are best pictures without other wins (albeit not since the 1930s)

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

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