Why Have the Oscars Snubbed Ben Affleck as a Director?

February 25, 2013 1:19 pm

ben affleckThe Oscars are the culminating point of the film awards season, and one of the most commented things in the previous months had been the absence of Ben Affleck in the Best Director category.

To sum up, he has been proclaimed the best director at the Golden Globes, the Baftas, the Critics Choice Awards and the Directors Guild Awards. And yet, he was ignored at the Academy Awards.

Why could this be? It seems unlikely that the Oscars want to punish him for all the terrible film choices he has made as an actor in the 21st century. The Oscars just love when an actor who was reaching bottom rises again and gets nominated (e.g. Mickey Rourke in the 81st edition). But that is not even the case with Affleck.

Since he started directing films, he has become better. His acting choices from the past weren’t really his fault, but being in charge of everything proved us the he was actually talented as a filmmaker.

Let’s not forget that Affleck has an Oscar, and not an acting one. In 1998, he won Best Original Screenplay with his best friend, Matt Damon, for Good Will Hunting. If they already knew how good Ben Affleck can be, why have they ignored him this year? Particularly when nobody else has…

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If we analyze the five nominees for Best Director this year, we can try to figure out why they seemed to deserve a spot instead of Affleck:

  • Michael Haneke is an outlandish filmmaker, so to speak. He was clearly going to make it to the final five, since Amour won the last Palme d’Or at Cannes. He is a different type of director, not what Hollywood is used to, and that usually means a necessary nomination. Besides, he directed his actors in the film in a way that they deliver heart-breaking performances.
  • Then there is Ang Lee. He already won with Brokeback Mountain, but Life of Pi is a big visual production, and Lee is very appreciated in Hollywood. Nobody would have complained if his spot had been taken by Affleck, but nobody is opposed to his unexpected win last win. He gave a sweet and nice speech, and there is no doubt that he deserves this second Oscar.
  • David O. Russell. He has stated that Silver Linings Playbook is a personal thing for him. Most of the credit goes to Cooper, Lawrence and DeNiro, which means he is also an excellent  director (check The Fighter). But the film is sort of the Little Miss Sunshine of the year, so his director had to be on the list as well.
  • Ben Affleck and Matt DamonThen we have Steven Spielberg. He is the king of Hollywood. The king of worldwide cinema. If he makes a film, he HAS to be nominated (except for The Terminal, which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t Oscar-good either). I personally found Lincoln a bit long and boring, even though Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field gave me goosebumps with their amazing performances. Spielberg has two Oscars for directing Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, so maybe the tradition of nominating him because he is Film God (and he will always be) could have been halted this year to let Affleck in, which would have meant a certain win.
  • And finally Benh Zeitlin, the young (he is 30), promising director of the indie, nice film. His nomination was also foreshadowed when he won the  Caméra d’Or at Cannes last May, and Beasts of the Southern Wild has been given a big treatment ever since. He was clearly not going to win, but his nomination meant a vote of confidence from the Academy.

 

So, that leaves Ben Affleck out of the picture, and the summary is that he is going to collect every award he’s been eligible to win. And yet, he gave a tremendous speech last night when Argo won Best Picture. He showed that he is ok with being snubbed, and remembered what a kid he was when he won 15 years ago with Good Will Hunting. And still he pointed out how he had hit low but he had been able to make a comeback. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking.  But don’t worry Ben, for your next movie, they will undoubtedly nominate you, even if the film is not as good as Argo (but good anyway). That’s how it works. Most of the time, at least

 

And like he said last night, hold no grudge…

 

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