It's been one of the most exciting and unpredictable award seasons in memory; a rich, diverse field of contenders, almost all of which are very good, and for the longest time it seemed like almost any of them could have taken the Best Picture award at the Oscars. But in the last couple of weeks, the narrative's starting to become a little narrower, with one film dominating the guild awards, which are traditionally the best precursors to the Academy Awards – Ben Affleck's terrific "Argo."
The film won the big prizes from both the Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild last weekend, and last night made it three on the trot, with Affleck picking up Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film from the Directors Guild of America. The DGA has been an uncannily good predictor of the equivalent category at the Oscars, matching up nine times out of the last nine years, but this is one year where it's unlikely to match; as we all know, Affleck was shockingly left out of the five Academy nominees, making this the first time since Ron Howard was victorious for "Apollo 13" in 1996 that someone has won the DGA without an Oscar nomination.
As such, it's the latest in a series of precursor sweeps that seem to point towards a Best Picture victory for "Argo" over the competition of "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Life Of Pi," among others, although it's worth noting that "Apollo 13" had managed a similar awards sweep and still lost out on Best Picture to "Braveheart." Presumably there's a reason why the Academy (whose tastes can differ from the larger guilds) left Affleck out in the first place? Anyway, we're three weeks out from Oscar night, so we'll know before too long.
Also picking up wins at the DGA were Malik Bendjelloul, who won the Documentary prize for "Searching For Sugar Man" (which has had a similarly good run to "Argo"); Lena Dunham, for her work on the pilot for HBO's "Girls"; Jay Roach, for helming the HBO movie "Game Change"; and "Looper" director Rian Johnson, for his "Breaking Bad" episode "Fifty-One." Milos Forman took the lifetime achievement award.
So, is the race over at this point, and will "Argo" take the big prize on Oscar night? Which of the nominees – Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell, Ang Lee, Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin – will take the Best Director Academy Award? And will they give Affleck a shout out when the time comes? Let us know your thoughts below.