After Golden Globes Win, Is 'Argo' The People's Film?

2013 Oscar Predictions

Last night’s Golden Globes cemented Argo as the People’s Film from an awards season stand-point, setting the scrappy underdog to stand toe-to-toe with the monolithic Lincoln. Theoretically, the “People’s Film” would be The Hunger Games, which won Favorite Movie at the People’s Choice Awards, but in the context of the Oscars, the populism is relative to the awards — and none of the elite awards are more populist than the Golden Globes.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association established the annual Golden Globes as an opportunity to gather Hollywood’s elite, and the awards create the appearance of a competitive event instead of simply another gala. The goal is TV revenue, ostensibly to fund the HFPA’s philanthropic endeavors. The voting is dubious, with a body of less than 100 journalists with a penchant for press junkets that hinge on the interviewee’s charisma and charm. This is why the Globes live up to their reputation of grinning, drunken swagger: they can be loose and fun, because at the end of the day, it’s not about the awards, it’s about the audience.

So the HFPA awarded Argo the title of Best Motion Picture - Drama, as well as giving Ben Affleck the award for Best Director — something he cannot replicate at the Oscars, where he's not nominated for Best Director. But the narrative is shifting in Argo’s direction. The film has always been a contender. With just three directed films and a severe image challenge as a personality, actor-turned-director Affleck has reconfigured himself as a filmmaker who demands respect. The fictionalized true story behind Argo, tying a Middle Eastern thriller to Hollywood in-jokes, was always the sort of smart film audiences could embrace. The box office reflected this, earning more than $111 million in the United States (ignoring a probable post-Globe, pre-Oscar rerelease), which is less than Lincoln to date but still nothing to scoff at for an R-rated political thriller.

Along the way, Argo has quietly been picking up awards from various critics groups. It was one of the AFI Films of the Year and made the National Board of Review’s Top Films list. It won ensemble awards from the Hollywood Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festial, took the top prize from the San Diego critics and took 2nd place from the New York critics. This past week, it scored a major win at the Critics’ Choice Awards, taking Best Picture and Best Director on the same day the AMPAS directing wing blocked Affleck out. Like the Globes, the Critics’ Choice flexed the populism muscle, despite the assumed prestige from an umbrella group of critics.

The Critics’ Choice tried something new this year by being broadcast on the CW, awkwardly combining the general intelligence of film critics with the popcorn atmosphere of the network. The organization received flack for poor decisions such as cutting away from the screenplay award (which went to Lincoln's Tony Kushner) and for focusing on less prestigious nominees in favor of name recognition. What all of this amounts to, however, is a critics award that was aiming for Golden Globe-style populism. Argo winning both Critics’ Choice and the Golden Globe for Best Drama has set its tone and changed the popular conversation, commanding awards-watchers to take the film seriously again after losing momentum earlier in the season thanks to the thunder-stealing Zero Dark Thirty.

What remains to be seen are the results of the Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTAs. Argo has received ensemble attention, so SAG’s big award isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but Argo has not received the individual acting attention that Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, or even Lincoln have. This makes SAG the biggest landmark on Argo’s horizon, because a win there would solidify the film’s narrative as the People’s Film, and the one that people want to win it all.

Chime in below with your Oscar musings: With all this populist momentum, does Argo have a shot at Best Picture?

John Hendel is a playwright from Los Angeles.



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  • sweetbiscuit says:

    My own answer to your question is "no," not because it isn't a good film, but it's not a great film. I don't think it will win the SAG ensemble award up against Les Mis and Lincoln, even if everyone "likes" Ben as a director.

    • Jake says:

      I say Maybe? One thing for sure, the Globes tend to award better stuff in general. The mere fact that they have a comedy or musical category is bloody brilliant and puts them ahead of the oscars. How many terrible and forgettable films have been given the Oscar over the last few years. Crash? Chicago? ROTK? The Hurt Locker? Wasn't there some Clint Eastwood crap in there too? That's how bad. I can't even remember the winners. I don't hate those films. They just are slightly above average. Meanwhile, There Will Be Blood and Inglorious Basterds get no love. It's a joke.

  • Nathanael Buzelli says:

    The only movie that won an Oscar for Best Picture without a nomination for Best Director was "Grand Hotel", in 1932. "Argo" is not lovely enough for break down this tradition. Probably, the PGA Awards and DGA Awards will honor "Lincoln" and Steven Spielberg as well, confirming that it is the academy's favorite movie of 2012. I'm sorry, but Argo is not even one of the Top 3 movies from last year.

    • Andrew K says:

      I thought the last movie that had that distinction was Driving Miss Daisy in, what, 1990 or so?

      As for Argo, I think it has a serious shot at Best Picture. It's a solid film, but at least better than the oddly dull Lincoln. The Lincoln hype is built purely on Spielberg, Daniel Day Lewis (one of my favorite actors, but I was snickering a lot at this particular performance), and the subject matter.

      I think there's no question that it really comes down to these two movies, though. So much for Les Mis and Zero Dark Thirty...

  • AD says:

    The biggest Oscar snubs were Tarantino and Affleck. I was not impressed by Beasts of the Southern Wild in the very least, so how Benh Zeitlin was nominated over either of those two men is beyond me. Same goes for Ang Lee, despite the fact that I truly enjoyed Life of Pi. Amour is the only Best Picture nominee that I have not seen yet, but it would have to be truly life-changing to make me second guess Django Unchained as my favorite film of 2012. I would have even been happy with an Affleck/Argo win instead of Django, but without even getting a nomination for Best Director, I don't like Argo's odds from a purely historical standpoint.

    I know I may be betting on a dark horse here, but don't sleep on Silver Linings Playbook. The film has a nominee in every acting category, and we all know the biggest voting bloc in the Academy is the actors. I would love to see a David O. Russell win, as well as Jennifer Lawrence and the film itself; Silver Linings Playbook was probably my second-favorite film of 2012.

    On the bright side, at least this year the Oscars are shaping up to be uncharacteristically unpredictable (with the exception of Best Supporting Actress, Anne Hathaway would have to murder a baby to mess up her chances of winning this year).

  • John A. Estrada says:

    just before I saw the draft ov $7454, I accept father in law was realie earning money in their spare time at their laptop.. there neighbor has done this 4 less than twelve months and just now cleared the debts on their appartment and bought Chevrolet. we looked here,