Check off one more box on the “Argo” industry tour of awards season goodies. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has crowned Ben Affleck with the award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, this just a week removed from big wins from the Producers and Screen Actors Guilds. Is it really clear sailing to a Best Picture win at the Oscars from here? Or will the fact that Academy members won’t even have ballots in hand until Friday mean there’s too much time for “them” to second guess the guild circuit?
Affleck would be in rare air whichever direction the season decides to take from here. If “Argo” indeed wins at the Academy Awards, it’ll be just the fourth film in history to do so without a Best Director nomination. If it doesn’t, it will be only the second film (in a shorter history) to win the PGA, DGA and SAG ensemble prizes but fail to win Best Picture. So the question becomes, is the situation closer to “Wings”/”Grand Hotel”/”Driving Miss Daisy,” or is it closer to “Apollo 13?”
Personally, I think that’s pretzel logic. “Argo” is “Argo.” The preferential ballot is the unique element. And the industry at large has clearly spoken. Phase two hasn’t kicked in and there is time for something to change. There is time for “Lincoln” to turn things around and come off the call to worship. There is time for Fox to find the right rhythm that seemingly eluded it in phase one until “Life of Pi” ended up with 11 nominations. But personally, I think we have plenty to go on, and it’s just willful neglect to seek out other avenues. “Argo” will become its own precedent.
It’s interesting, though, that so many think that it is in this position purely due to the Best Director snub. I don’t think so. Support for the film is deep and wide, and it was before the nominations were announced on January 10. All the snub potentially did was embolden love that already existed. That kind of thing doesn’t turn a “Lincoln” lover into an “Argo” lover. So let’s not look for ways to explain it away. It’s the movie. And “they” really like it.
Elsewhere, Malik Bendjelloul won in the documentary field for his own awards season sweeper, “Searching for Sugar Man.” I feel pretty confident that it will charge on through to an Oscar win as well, but that’s a really strong field this year.
Full list of DGA winners below. Keep track of all the ups and downs of the season via The Circuit.
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
Malik Bendjelloul, “Searching for Sugar Man”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series
Jay Roach, “Game Change”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series
Rian Johnson, “Breaking Bad”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series
Lena Dunham, “Girls”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety
Glenn Weiss, “66th Annual Tony Awards”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs
Brian Smith, “Master Chef”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Daytime Serials
Jill Mitwell, “One Life to Live”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs
Paul Hoen, “Let it Shine”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Best Job”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Robert B. Aldrich Service Award
Lifetime Achievement in News Direction Award
Frank Capra Achievement Award
Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award