Ben Affleck Thriller Wins More Top Awards: Best Picture Oscar Next?

by Anna Robinson

Ben Affleck's Argo tops ACE, WGA Awards

Ben Affleck's Argo, a political thriller about the rescue of several U.S. hostages held in Iran in the late '70s, continues to lead this awards season. Following wins at the Producers Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, this past weekend Argo won the American Cinema Editors Award for Best Edited Feature Film - Dramatic (William Goldenberg) and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Chris Terrio).

Argo has now come out on top in the four major guilds: producers, directors, actors, and screenwriters – not to mention editors, the key wins leading to an eventual Best Picture Academy Award. If Argo does win Best Picture, it'll be the first film since Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy (1989) to achieve that feat without a matching Best Director nomination.

Prior to Driving Miss Daisy, only two Best Picture Oscar winners failed to have a matching Best Director nomination: William A. Wellman's Wings in the Academy Awards' first year (1927–28) and Edmund Goulding's Grand Hotel (1931-32). At times, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters have split their Best Picture / Best Director choices, but apart from the three aforementioned films, the Best Picture Oscar winner invariably had a matching Best Director nomination, e.g., in recent years: John Madden's Shakespeare in Love (1998; Steven Spielberg won Best Director for Saving Private Ryan), Rob Marshall's Chicago (2002; Roman Polanski won for The Pianist), and Paul Haggis' Crash (2005; Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain).

Zero Dark Thirty, Skyfall among other awards winners this past weekend

Besides Argo, among the other award winners this past weekend were the following:

The Kathryn Bigelow-directed political thriller Zero Dark Thirty earned Mark Boal the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay – even though both Bigelow and Boal have been under fire for the depiction of torture in their film. The other winner in the WGA Awards' feature film categories was Searching for Sugar Man, which earned director-writer Malik Bendjelloul the Best Documentary Screenplay Award.

The American Cinema Editors' Best Edited Feature Film - Comedy/Musical winner was the David O. Russell-directed Silver Linings Playbook (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers). Russell's comedy-drama is in the running for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and nods in all four acting categories (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver).

The ACE's Best Edited Documentary - Feature was Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul), while the Best Edited Feature Film - Animated was Disney / Pixar's Brave (Nicholas C. Smith and Robert Grahamjones).

The top winners of the Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Awards were Sam Mendes' Skyfall (Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film), Ang Lee's Life of Pi (two wins: Music in a Feature Film, and Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Film), Tom Hooper's Les Misérables (Music in a Musical Feature Film), Jessica Yu's Last Call at the Oasis (Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue, ADR and Music in a Feature Documentary), and Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone (Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Foreign-Language Film).

The Cinema Audio Society Awards, which focuses on sound mixing, went to Les Misérables (Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture - Live Action) and Brave (Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture - Animated).

Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Jonathan Demme, Chris Newman honored

Additionally, Lincoln's Steven Spielberg was given the American Cinema Editors' Golden Eddie – the ACE's Filmmaker of the Year Award. Ang Lee, for his part, received his own Filmmaker Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors.

The Cinema Audio Society's Filmmaker Award went to Jonathan Demme, whose credits include Melvin and Howard (1980), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Rachel Getting Married (2008), and the upcoming Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen, featuring My Dinner with Andre's Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, in addition to Larry Pine, Julie Hagerty, and Lisa Joyce.

CAS's Lifetime Achievement Award was given to veteran sound mixer and frequent Jonathan Demme collaborator Chris Newman, whose credits include some of the top American movies made in the last four decades. Among those are Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool (1969), William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), Milos Forman's Hair (1979), Bob Fosse's All That Jazz (1979), Alan J. Pakula's Klute (1971) and Sophie's Choice (1982), Oliver Stone's Wall Street (1987), Anthony Minghella's The English Patient (1996), Mike Nichols' Primary Colors (1998), and Demme's Philadelphia (1993) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004).

Ben Affleck Argo image: Warner Bros.

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