When Ben Affleck, the director and star of “Argo,” failed to get a Best Director nomination, many were shocked. He was widely believed to be a favorite to win, and subsequent victories at the Golden Globes and Directors Guild Awards proved that others regarded his work with great esteem. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, paid no attention.
This snub makes it all the more unusual that “Argo” won the Best Picture Award. How unusual? Well, since the Oscars were first awarded in 1928, only three other films — “Wings” (1928), “Grand Hotel” (1931) and “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989) — have won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination. Now, Ben Affleck joins directors William A. Wellman, Edmund Goulding and Bruce Beresford on the short list of directors whose films apparently didn’t need them.
Even if “Argo” had not won the big award, Affleck’s lack of nomination was a bit unusual. Few films with numerous nominations ignore the director. Exceptions include one of this year’s nominated films, “Zero Dark Thirty” (for which director Kathryn Bigelow was snubbed), 1991’s “The Prince of Tides” (Barbra Streisand) and 1985’s “The Color Purple” (Steven Spielberg).
Does winning a Best Picture Oscar make up for nothing in the Best Director category? For Ben Affleck’s sake, let’s hope so.