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Directors Guild Continues the Awards Surge for Ben Affleck's 'Argo'

by Anne Thompson
February 3, 2013 1:42 AM
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Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck bookended the night at the Directors Guild of America Awards. Half-hour TV show winner Lena Dunham ("Girls") accepted her award by saying, "Steven Spielberg, I'm coming for you. Ben Affleck, I already came for you." She forecast the heat that attended Affleck's "Argo," which by evening's end, continued its awards surge by taking home the DGA's top honor for best feature. It's the third time a director has won the DGA without an Oscar nom. Affleck joins other actor-directors who have won the DGA: Woody Allen, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Ron Howard, Kevin Costner, and Clint Eastwood.

"Argo" has been winning awards of late, including SAG, PGA, Critics Choice and the Golden Globes. First-time nominee Affleck beat three-time DGA-winner Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") who earned a standing ovation, and two-time DGA-winner Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), the only two DGA nominees who were also in the running for the best director Oscar. Snubbed director Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), who won a DGA award for "The Hurt Locker," thanked Sony's Amy Pascal: "to support a movie that has a few sharp edges is no small feat." "The King's Speech" DGA-winner Tom Hooper was also up for this year's DGA honor for "Les Miserables."

The DGA is considered a more mainstream group than the nominating Oscar directors or the Academy at large. But at this point "Lincoln" has to be considered vulnerable in the Oscar race for best picture. Most of the time the DGA winner goes on to win an Oscar. Obviously that won't happen, but most of the time the winner's film wins the best picture Oscar as well. Spielberg can take some consolation from remembering that the last time a movie won best picture without an Oscar directing nom was "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1990; and the year that Howard's popular "Apollo 13" won PGA, SAG and DGA, it did not the Best Picture Oscar. This year is different in that it offers nine candidates for best picture-- plus preferential voting.

Other DGA winners: "Searching for Sugar Man" continued its string of wins by taking home best documentary feature; TV drama series went to "Looper" director Rian Johnson for "Breaking Bad." Jay Roach won again for cable movie "Game Change." The Reality TV honor went to "Master Chef." Milos Forman, winner of two DGA awards, won a Lifetime Achievement Award but was too ill to attend, while director Michael Apted accepted his honorary Award from Steven Soderbergh, who said: "Michael is one of the few people that I can take in really large doses."

The full list of DGA winners is here and below.

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More: Argo, Awards, Awards, Oscars


  • Dana | February 4, 2013 1:10 AMReply

    Completely disagree with you Vic. I thought Argo was the superior film. Even though I lived through that era, I couldn't remember all the details so despite the ending undoubtedly being embellished for dramatic purposes, I was still on the edge of my seat. As for Lincoln, although the acting deserves all the accolades it is receiving, I thought the film itself was a little tedious. Unlike Argo, I found myself looking at my watch a lot which, for me, meant I was just waiting for it to be over. I say give Spielberg Best Director, but break tradition and give Argo Best Picture. (Spielberg can deal. He did before when he won Best Director for Saving Private Ryan but lost Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love.) Of course, my vote doesn't count, so Lincoln will take everything.

  • Vic | February 3, 2013 5:03 PMReply

    Ok, but Argo can't win the Oscar just for best picture isn't it? (even if Ben Affleck is out of the competition for best director). One big win and not another Oscar for cast, screenplay, or even editing (Argo it isn't Driving Miss Daisy (1989) (at least this won Oscar for best actress (Jessica Tandy) and best adapted screenplay) or Grand Hotel (1932), or Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), or Rebecca (1940). Lincoln will be by default the one who will win the Oscars for best motion picture, best director (Steven Spielberg), best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and best adapted screenplay (and perhaps another 3 or 4 Oscars including Tommy Lee Jones for best supporting actor). Lincoln is the best movie from 2012. At Argo I found the tension before the ending really funny not in the good way (the almost capturing of all members from the american embassy). Ben Affleck should try another one really good movie to be at least nominated for best director in the next years. For me Argo, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty or Life of Pi are not as good as the last winners from the Academy (The Artist (2011) or The King's Speech (2010) or Slumdog Millionaire (2008), but at least are better than the overrated The Hurt Locker (2008).

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