by gaRis

Best Director + Screenplay(s) – Everybody Wins

> As we are happily running into the final pre-Awards week (Oscars ceremony on Sunday, February 24th), I would call this prognostication fiasco one of the historically most frustrated Oscarology years in recent memory (say, 30 years and counting). Social Media have pioneered this race to the bottom, by projecting personal favourites as sure-fire frontrunners, waving especially the Argo flag right onto the Academy Membership’s face. Yep, the Ben Affleck snub has been trademarked as #epicfail and essentially there’s no way back from the Globes to the BAFTA’s. Argo may only win ONE Oscar, but nobody will bet against it as our juggernaut Best Picture Winner. An outcome which seal a picture-director split for the first time since the infamous Crash win (with Ang Lee wining Directing for Brokeback Mountain) however the real case-in-point is the Driving Miss Daisy win in 1989 (O. Stone got the Directing award for Born on the 4th of July) when Bruce Beresford was NOT nominated for Directing, exactly as Affleck for Argo.

> Just for the record, I give you his actual statement concerning Beresford “being robbed”: "No, (I don’t mind) not at all. I didn’t think it (Driving Miss Daisy) was that well directed. It was very well written. When the writing's that good, you’ve really just got to set the camera up and photograph it."[4]Does this ring a… Ben? This year’s Directing category could go any …direction (pun intended).The funniest part might be that there are a number of different choices that will weaken Argo s triumph to the point when everyone might wonder at the end if Argo was indeed the best pick. Let’s break it down for the last time, without an angle and devoid of any favouritism (although my no 2 and no 3 top films of the year, Beasts of the southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook are here in contention):

Best Directing Nominees
"Amour" Michael Haneke
"Beasts of the southern Wild" Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" Ang Lee
"Lincoln" Steven Spielberg
"Silver Linings Playbook" David O. Russell

I reiterate that Amour is the real dark horse, having in the bag already Foreign Language Feature and Original Screenplay plus waiting in the wings for Haneke and Riva. Excluding The Artist case, it has never happened that a non-American/British production won the golden statuette so there’s a huge opportunity for the Academy to leave everyone rolling-on-the-floor unconscious. But meeh, won’t happen. Likewise, bestowing him the directing accolade would feel a tad redundant if Haneke is already in for a double treat re: Foreign / Screenplay. Benh Zeitlin, who is lately addressed as a young Spielberg -in –incubator, must feel extremely happy just to be a multiple nominee this year with his first feature that cost no more than $2M. Talking about a real “achievement in filmmaking”, right? He’s just 31. Ang Lee, the universally respected Asian filmmaker despite having already won this, is closer than Cameron (Avatar) and Scorsese (Hugo) to signify the very first trophy for a feature shot in 3D. The Membership steak eaters have manifested their love for Life of Pi at great lengths, making it the clear frontrunner in the technical categories, raising the tally to 11 nods. A second win could happen.

Steven Spielberg has absolutely nothing to prove, boasting his 7th nomination, joining the prestigious chorus of David Lean, Woody Allen, Marin Scorsese and Fred Zinnemann, lest we forget his 8th nomination as a producer for Best Picture. Lincoln still doesn’t look like the formidable candidate, despite its 12 nominations. The Beard is already a two-time recipient, so the only feasible scenario would be a Best Picture win which would unlock and consequently grant him William Wyler and Frank Capra status (3 directing wins, only John Ford tops then at 4). David O’Russell, is the actors’ branch it –director and admittedly did a remarkable job promoting himself by coming out as a troubled father of a bipolar son. One can see the devilish Weinstein Oscar bait techniques coming from a mile away but, it actually works. The notoriously eruptive helmer can upset this race, his DGA snub notwithstanding.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"Argo" Screenplay by Chris Terrio
"Beasts of the southern Wild" Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
"Life of Pi" Screenplay by David Magee
"Lincoln" Screenplay by Tony Kushner
"Silver Linings Playbook" Screenplay by David O. Russell

This category strikes me as pivotal for the final Best Picture winner result. Please someone explain me how on earth Argo can pull this off without Chris Terrio pining Kushner and Russell on the ropes. Honestly, Argo wining Best Picture and Editing alone would make for a major Academy ridicule. Unless what rumour- has it holds more truth than we can actually joke about: Argo s surge was owed to a reactionary mass vote, catapulted by Ben Affleck’s eschew immediately after Oscar noms were out. Lincoln should win here. It just can’t win Best picture without this one, nor can it feel safe about wining even after snatching the victory here. Pi and Beasts are honourable mentions that explain adequately their inclusion in the Best Picture roster of nine (9) yet they will need much more than that for the surprise win. Russell will benefit from an Argo - Lincoln split vote and prevail, as in Best Picture and Best Director categories.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Amour" Written by Michael Haneke
"Django Unchained" Written by Quentin Tarantino
"Flight" Written by John Gatins
"Moonrise Kingdom" Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
"Zero Dark Thirty" Written by Mark Boal

The mere feeling that I get by glancing at the name John Gatins inscribed here instead of Paul Thomas Anderson, tiptoes between nausea and anguish. Apparently the three nominated thespians of The Master were delivering acting master classes in the absence of P.T.A. the writer/director. Plainly hilarious. Zero Dark Thirty is another fine piece of Marc Boal-sy intense writing, leaving no doubt that Kathryn Bigelow stints wouldn’t be what they’re being acclaimed for without him. Problem is the pro-torture smear campaign has left an indelible stain on its winning chances. Likewise Tarantino’s balls- to- the -wall –Negro- epic is too hard for the Membership soft underbelly. It’s been almost twenty years since his only win for Pulp Fiction hence he’s not to be entirely excluded. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom  the real indie winner box office –wise, could upset with its single nomination, quite deservedly so. My bet is on Haneke’s Amour, based on the one-two punch theory (Foreign language/Screenplay) A Separation style.

Don’t miss my final take on Animated/Documentary Feature(s) + the Tekkies coming up next weekend, along with the summoning of my final Oscar Predictions in ALL categories. Follow me on Twitter: @TakisGaris. Getting ready with @moviesltd for the big Awards Ceremony, when we’ll be live tweeting from the Red Carpet show till the final announcement of the Best Picture winner. Until then Oscar fellas!


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