Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Oscars: Can Ben Affleck Win on A Write in Vote for Best Director? (Not Really)


UPDATE It’s been suggested before, but I am hearing it more and more: Academy voters with paper ballots may be writing in Ben Affleck’s name as Best Director. It’s a crazy scenario already. “Argo” is a favorite for Best Picture. But its director, Ben Affleck, isn’t on the ballot. Neither, of course, is Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino, or Tom Hooper for their Best Picture nominated films. This may have something to do with the electronic voting in the first round this year. Now many who didn’t want to deal with computers have switched back to a paper ballot. And one way to cure the Affleck dilemma is just to write his name in.

One problem: write in votes have been banned since 1936. So don’t throw away your Best Director vote.

This has been an odd season for Oscar voting, something we’ll get into when it’s all over. I watched both “Argo” and “Lincoln” on the plane back to New York the night before last. “Argo” is superb filmmaking. It’s an exciting film. And boy, that last twenty minutes or so — the whole sequence of getting the six Embassy workers out– is exciting. The cutting back and forth to the film lot in Hollywood, the phone ringing and no one there to pick it up–it’s great.

And still, watching “Lincoln” again is very instructive. I love that movie. And not just the main players, who are all very good. But the levels and levels of casting, from Hal Holbrook and James Spader to Michael Stuhlbarg and Walt Goggins. Even the little subplot going on between Sally Field and Gloria Reuben makes you take notice of them. “Lincoln” really boasts a rich array of performances, and a screenplay by Tony Kushner that just gets better and better.

Still, I come back to “Silver Linings Playbook.” The script is very subtly constructed, which is why it just won the BAFTA award. And the interplay between Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro in the key scene–in which Tiffany enumerates her relationship to the Eagles winning and losing–should win each of those actors Oscars. It’s absolutely a classic.

What a year for films–the best I think in more than a dozen years. Oscar ballots are due back to the Academy next Tuesday, February 19th.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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