This year's Best Director Oscar race has proven a surprising one, with two of the most-nominated directors at every other awards show being shut out of the big game. We're, of course, talking about Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, respectively. So hopes were high that vindication would be at their backs, guiding at least one of them to gold. And what a victory it was for winner Affleck, who took home the top feature film honors at the ceremony in Hollywood. Affleck's win is just one of many that he's gained for directing the story of Tony Mendez and the six fugitive Americans embassy workers in 1980. At this point, it seems hard to imagine Affleck will miss the Oscar trophy he could've won, had the Academy not snubbed him during nominations. What's one award amongst friends, right?
But it wasn't just a big night for movies. Big names in television — including Lena Dunham, Louis C.K., Bryan Cranston, and Looper's Rian Johnson — were all up for directoral nods on the small screen. But it was the seemingly-unstoppable Dunham that took home the top prize in comedic television for her HBO series Girls — and on her first nomination, to boot! Welcome to 2013: Year of the Dunham. (And you thought it was 2012, pish posh!) Johnson took home the dramatic prize for his work on the Cranston-fronted Breaking Bad. Cranston himself was up for directing an episode of Modern Family. From meth kingpin to primetime comedy director — there's really nothing that man can't do, huh?
Check out the full list of nominees (and winners; bolded) below!
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Argo (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
(Twentieth Century Fox)
(DreamWorks Pictures/Twentieth Century Fox)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series
Political Animals, “Pilot”
Hemingway & Gellhorn
Hatfields & McCoys
Game Change (HBO)
American Horror Story: Asylum, “Dark Cousin”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series
Homeland, "The Choice"
Mad Men, “A Little Kiss”
LESLI LINKA GLATTER
Breaking Bad, “Fifty-One” (AMC)
The Newsroom, “We Just Decided To” (Pilot)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series
Louie, “New Year’s Eve”
The Big Bang Theory, “The Date Night Variable”
Modern Family, “Election Day”
Girls, “Pilot” (HBO)
30 Rock, “Live from Studio 6H”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Musical Variety
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief
(Multiple Networks/Cable Outlets)
DON ROY KING
Saturday Night Live with Host Mick Jagger
84th Annual Academy Awards
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, "Episode #17153"
66th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Reality Programs
America’s Next Top Model, "The Girl Who Becomes America’s Next Top Model"
Face Off, "Scene of the Crime"
Master Chef, “Episode #305” (FOX)
J. RUPERT THOMPSON
Stars Earn Stripes, “Amphibious Assault”
Ink Master, “Pasties and a Cameltoe”
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Daytime Serials
Days of Our Lives, “Trapped”
General Hospital, “Bad Water”
General Hospital, “Magic Milo”
General Hospital, “Shot Through The Heart”
One Life To Live, “Between Heaven and Hell” (ABC)
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs
Girl vs. Monster
Let it Shine (Disney Channel)
SAVAGE STEVE HOLLAND
Big Time Movie
Don’t Divorce Me! Kids’ Rules for Parents on Divorce
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
Searching For Sugar Man
The Invisible War
How To Survive A Plague
The Queen of Versailles
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
What do you think of this year's winners? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.