Monday, February 18, 2013

Oscar Roundup 2012: The Writer's Guild go for Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, and Searching for Sugar Man

While out to brunch yesterday I was talking with two friend who had went to the all day event showing half of the Best Picture nominees, put on by the movie theatre chain AMC.  They are not Academy voters, but I have this suspicion as avid film watchers their perspective is one similar to many people who are voting.  They were enamored Argo, and that was their favorite film.  In their words Argo was so good!  Not to the diminish their thoughts, but I think the complexity of Argo is minimal, and Oscar voters mostly older are going to pick a safer film for them.

Before I go further the next couple of thoughts are not a rant against Argo.  Argo is one of the best films of the year, the best no, but what has happened this season is what typically happens with the Best Picture race.  While Argo is not exactly a "safe" film to win, it is in fact a film glorifies Hollywood, for"saving the day."  Argo is a well made film, but how is it beating Lincoln in every area? In most years Lincoln would have steam rolled through this awards season, it's an important historical bio-pic, with an Academy Awards pedigree behind the film., Lincoln is even the highest grossing film.  All of these elements contribute in most years add up to Best Picture winner.

Now I have Argo ranked higher than Lincoln in my top ten list, Argo is ranked 5th, and Lincoln 9th.  Why is Argo on this journey to Oscar gold?  Was it really them snubbing Ben Affleck?  This can't be the only factor especially since Bigelow was an even bigger snub (in mu opinion) for Zero Dark Thirty.  Yet the snub has put Argo on a much different path than Zero Dark Thirty.  Zero Dark Thirty may have lost out more because of the torture controversy, but in the film cannon Zero Dark Thirty will always be seen as the strongest film of the year, Lincoln the shockingly ignored, and Argo will be seen as over rewarded.  Sorry Ben Affleck.

I am bringing things back to the intent of the post, right now I promise.  Argo won Best Adapted Screenplay over Lincoln.  I am still a bit shocked by this, and while I like the Argo script more, Lincoln's was the front runner in this category even through the Argo stampede at SAG.  I predicted Lincoln still, but I guess I was wrong, and I have to think all of these guilds really got together and sat down and all marked Argo.  Films rarely win almost every guild.  I am still a bit baffled at how this happened, but it has, and maybe some things are best left unexplained.

Zero Dark Thirty won for Best Original Screenplay, but was not up against it fiercest competition Amour and Django Unchained.  Which means predicting Best Original Screenplay like many categories is a massive crap shoot.  This category may actually end up being the award bone they throw at Zero Dark Thirty.

Throughout the years the Oscars always like to give most of the Best Picture nominees at least one win.  Last year 4 of the 9 went home empty handed, but one of those four only had two nominations, and one had three nominations, leaving the final two films with 6 nominations each.  Does this help Zero Dark Thirty, no namely because the film only scored five nominations much like Amour and Django's totals.

In the end the WGA Awards only tell us a few things, Argo has officially won Best Picture, Original Screenplay like other categories is a massive surprise, and Searching for Sugar Man will win Documentary feature.

Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Based on a selection from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired Magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman
"Zero Dark Thirty"
Written by Mark Boal
"Searching for Sugar Man"
Written by Malik Bendjelloul

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