So Is 'Argo' Really a Lock for Best Picture Now?

The Atlantic

Two big weekend wins for Argo have the Hollywood pundits saying that its Best Picture chances have transformed from Academy snub to Golden Globes surprise to, suddenly, a done deal at the Oscars. On Saturday, the Ben Affleck-helmed thriller took home the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards Saturday. Then it won the Best Ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild festivities on Sunday. Will all this make the biggest Oscar prize turn from dramatic to, well, boring? The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg tweeted:

ARGO wins! This pretty much seals the deal for best pic, folks. It has won with producers and now @theacademy's biggest contingent, actors.

— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) January 28, 2013

Earlier that day Feinberg had written that Argo's Producers Guild Award had made "it virtually impossible to argue any longer that a film other than Argo -- say, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty -- is currently in the best picture Oscar's pole position, because they haven't won anything yet."

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Awards Daily's Sasha Stone also echoed Feinberg, with a caveat:

It's true that game over but remember Apollo 13 won Globe, PGA, SAG, DGA and lost Oscar to Braveheart.

— Sasha Stone (@AwardsDaily) January 28, 2013

So now Argo has won with both the preferential ballot and the weighted ballot. Game over.

— Sasha Stone (@AwardsDaily) January 28, 2013

Even before the SAG ceremony, Roger Ebert was touting his prediction from September:

I predicted that "Argo" would win this year's Oscar for Best Picture on Sept. 10. The Toronto Connection never fails. bit.ly/WqG7Rm

— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) January 27, 2013

And though in summing up the PGA prizes, Pete Hammond of Deadline was more "tentative," he also noted: "Argo could be emerging as a kind of consensus choice in a year of outstanding films, a beneficiary of a severely split vote. It is significant that the PGA uses the same preferential vote counting system as the Academy so there is a high level of correlation between the two groups." Following the SAG awards Hammond wrote "there can be no question now that Argo is on a roll. Voters just seem to like this picture, and sometimes that’s all it takes."

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But let's not forget that Ben Affleck's Best Director snub by the Academy had everyone all but discounting Argo's chances. As Feinberg notes, only three films ever have won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. That said, Argo went on to win Best Picture at the Critics' Choice Awards and the Golden Globes, though those were less telling than this weekend's accolades, Feinberg explains, since those prizes are given out by press as opposed to Academy voting blocs.

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The SAG ensemble award is not necessarily the best predictor for the Oscars in and of itself. The films that take the prize have often not matched up with the Best Picture winner. (In 1997 The Birdcage beat out The English Patient, which went on to win the Oscar. Hank Azaria was amazing.) But Feinberg makes the case that it's the combo of Argo's prizes that imply front-runner status:

Only 5 of last 10 ensemble SAG winners have gone on to win the best picture Oscar--but those that missed hadn't won the others that ARGO has

— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) January 28, 2013

So what else did this weekend tell us about the Oscars? In a tight race Jennifer Lawrence might have the edge for Best Actress. She took home the SAG prize Sunday night though as Feinberg tweeted, last year saw Viola Davis winning the SAG award for The Help but ultimately losing the Oscar to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

The SAG best actress winner has become the Academy's best actress winner in six of the last 10 years... but not last year. #NeverForgetViola

— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) January 28, 2013

With two Oscar nominees not even competing for the trophy in this category — the old Emmanuelle Riva and the young Quvenzhané Wallis — and Sony's lack of SAG campaigning for Jessica Chastain, Hammond at Deadline writes that "this race could still be strongly competitive though Lawrence’s heartfelt speech and win gives her a definite boost."

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But don't count out commitment: Lawrence accepted her SAG even after having what some are calling a wardrobe malfunction, but others are insisting was just trouble with a complicated Dior gown...

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...and having walking pneumonia.

Daniel Day-Lewis took home the SAG award for Best Actor, but that doesn't tell us much since it seemed like a done deal since he signed on to the film.

Though there's always the possibility for the upset, February 24 could make for a fairly boring Oscar night. You can check out all the SAG winners in our wrap-up right here.

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