Hollywood Elsewhere to Academy’s Lincoln and Life of Pi supporters:
It’s getting really repetitious but what can you do? Argo won at the BAFTA awards today/tonight. Best Picture plus Best Director for Ben Affleck. Last night Chris Terrio‘s Argo screenplay won the Scripter Award. Affleck has also won the DGA award, of course, and Argo has also won the Producer’s Guild Award, the SAG Ensemble award, the Golden Globe award for Best Drama and the Critics Choice award for Best Picture.
With all due respect and compassion, Lincoln and Life of Pi can’t possibly win the Best Picture Oscar. You strongly suspected this before; now you know it for sure. It’s not that they aren’t fine, admirable, well-made films. Clearly they are. But at this stage of the game a vote for Lincoln or Pi is effing wasted. I’m sorry to say this but that’s how it is right now. Voting for Lincoln for Best Picture is like voting for Gus Hall for president back in the ’70s and ’80s. Voting for Life of Pi is like throwing a rock into a mine shaft.
The only question now is “are Academy members content to just drift along and nod out and let Argo take the Best Picture Oscar as everyone expects, or do you have it in you to man up, seize the moment and give it to a film that really (or at least arguably) deserves to be called the very Best Picture of 2012 as opposed to giving it to the most likable or mildly pleasing?”
Yesterday Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone wrote that “the biggest group [within the Academy] has gathered around Argo and there isn’t a whole lot anyone can do about it. The Silver Linings voters won’t switch to Lincoln. The Lincoln voters won’t switch to Silver Linings. The Life of Pi voters won’t switch to Lincoln or Silver Linings.”
But why stick to your Lincoln or Pi guns at this stage? To what end? So you can say to yourself “I refused to budge!…I stuck by my principles!”? That and $1.75 will get you a bus ticket. If you want to make a difference you need to stand up, man up, give it up and cast your vote for the one movie that has a real chance of stealing the Best Picture Oscar away from Argo.
I wish I could say that film is Zero Dark Thirty. It ought to be as it happens to be the toughest, ballsiest, smartest, coolest, bravest and most intriguingly adult film of the year. Which in my book makes it the best. But it’s in the same can’t-possibly-win boat as Lincoln and Life of Pi, sorry to say. I wish it were otherwise.
If you don’t want 2012 to go down as the year of the nicely sculpted but likably congenial Argo, you have to grim up, suck it in and give your vote to Silver Linings Playbook.
Which is a beautifully made, superbly written, perfectly acted film that works on its own terms and delivers an unmistakable emotional current that really stands alone among all the Best Picture contenders. It may not be your absolute favorite, but you know it’s an ace-level touchdown, and you know that the David O. Russell metaphor — a man who has grown up and opened his heart and put his demons behind him and found a way to work lovingly and Zen-style with the very best people in the business — is one that we all know about and should applaud.
So that’s it. Give up your darlings and vote for Silver Linings Playbook or Argo will take the Big Prize. Do you want that? Do you really want that? If you don’t, you know what to do. It’s easy. Just do it, and everyone’s mind will be blown. Including, perhaps, your own.
From a 9.14.12 HE piece: “Argo is basically a movie designed to enthrall, charm, amuse, thrill, move and excite. It’s a comfort-blanket movie that basically says ‘this was the problem, and this is how it was solved…and the guys who made it happen deserve our applause and respect…no?’ Yes, they do. But above all Argo aims to please. It skillfully creates suspense elements that probably weren’t that evident when the story actually went down. And it throws in two or three divorced-father-hangs-with-young-son scenes, and some CIA razmatazz and a few ’80s Hollywood cheeseball jokes and basically lathers it all on.
“If I was a high-school teacher and Argo was a term paper, I would give it an 87 or 88. Okay, an 89. It’s obviously good, but it’s not constructed of the kind of material that ages well. It is not a film that exudes paralyzing bravery or greatness. Like many highly regarded Hollywood films, it adheres to familiar classic centrist entertainment values…and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very pleasing thing, but it’s a fucking caper film. Boil it down and it’s Ocean’s 11 set in Washington, D.C., L.A. and Tehran of 1978 and ’89 without the money or the flip glamorous vibe or the Clooney-Pitt-Damon-Cheadle combustion.”