The big takeaway from this month's Oscar nominations? Ben Affleck got screwed.
At least that's how every other voting groups appears to be reacting to the actor-turned-filmmaker's snub from the Academy Awards' prestigious "Best Director" category. A long favorite to win the "Best Picture" award, Affleck's Argo appeared to lose major traction when the director wasn't able to nab a slot alongside the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Michael Haneke, and Benh Zeitlin. Amazingly, the lack of recognition may have been a Best Picture boost in disguise.
Sunday night, Argo picked up the Screen Actor's Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture — the thespian version of Oscars' Best Picture. The top honor is a key component in bringing home the bacon at the Academy Awards. SAG is the largest voting entity for the Oscars Best Picture, meaning whatever they have their sights set on usually winds up a winner. In the last 10 years, the SAG Outstanding Performance by a Cast Awards category has bestowed its honors on the future Best Picture winner, including The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionare, and No Country for Old Men.
With a 60% success rate in the last decade, it may be too soon to declare Argo a frontrunner — movies running at the front of the pack include Lincoln, sporting SAG's Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis, and Silver Linings Playbook, featuring Jennifer Lawrence, who took home SAG's Best Actress — but the win is another notch on the belt after a string of high profile victories. The marathon to an unlikely triumph kicked off with Affleck and his ripped-from-the-headlines taking home the Golden Globe for Best Drama, followed by another big win at the Critics Choice Awards.
Then there are the other craft awards. Over the weekend, the Producers Guild of America named Argo their best theatrical film of the year. Their success rate is even higher than SAG, awarding seven of the 10 Academy Award Best Pictures, making up for the actors missed winners in 2011 (The Artist) and 2010 (The Hurt Locker). If Argo writer Chris Terrio takes home the Writer's Guild award for his adapted screenplay, and Affleck takes home the Director's Guild prize, the stars will truly be aligning for the movie.
We may never know why Affleck failed to muster up a nomination for Best Director, but judging from the accolades Argo is taking home, he may be preparing to upset his contemporaries and make Oscar history when the Academy Awards air on Feb. 24, 2013. The Academy's final voting takes place between Feb. 8 and Feb. 19 — Argo's many wins so far may be a clear sign of where ballot casters' heads are at.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]