Jewish World Review Jan 24, 2013/ 13 Shevat, 5773
Ben Affleck's life is still worth living
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) There was a serious problem the minute they tried to squeeze a square peg (nine best picture nominees) into a round hole (five best director nominees).
"They," of course, are the nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who cast votes for the Oscars. As soon as the academy decided that nine films would be honored, while only five directors would be recognized, four filmmakers were destined to be snubbed.
And there is no way to feel other than snubbed when your film is nominated as best picture, and you are not nominated as best director. After all, if your film was good enough to be nominated as best picture, it is only logical that you also be nominated. Best picture nominees don't direct themselves.
When this year's five nominees were announced (Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke), the directors immediately feeling a snub included Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Tom Hooper ("Les MisÚrables"), Quentin Tarantino ("Django Unchained") and Ben Affleck ("Argo").
This column is not meant to imply that the five nominated directors are undeserving, but rather it is a plea to correct this professional slight in the future. Make it a rule that the directing category be expanded in direct correlation to the expanded best picture category. It's only fair.
In the meantime, I am concerned about how the snubbed directors are learning to live with their public humiliation. In particular, I am worried about Ben.
Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and Hooper ("The King's Speech") have won directing Oscars before. Tarantino won an Oscar for his "Pulp Fiction" screenplay. Yes, Affleck also won a screenplay Oscar ("Good Will Hunting") but he had to share it with best buddy Matt Damon. He has no solo gold to put on the mantel. Whenever someone congratulates him on the Academy Award, he is obliged to point out that Damon did some of the work.
It was a fascinating but confusing week for Affleck, who was unceremoniously dumped by Lady Oscar in the morning, and then was handed a best director prize later the same day from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. It doesn't matter that these are the same 270 critics who never met a movie they didn't like, and then fill endless movie ads with gushing quotes. Their award helped ease the pain for Affleck, and I'm sure he appreciated it.
A few days later, there was another shocking development in the continuing Ben Affleck Snub Saga when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association gave him a Golden Globe for best director, and then topped off the evening with a best picture nod.
Ordinarily, these two critics awards would establish Affleck as the frontrunner in the Oscar race, but we don't want to gang up on the poor guy. Still, two meaningless awards are better than nothing.
I suspect that once the shine fades on those two awards, and all the Oscar hype begins, Affleck is going to get pretty depressed.
I'm really worried about what he might to do. Therefore, I've put together a list to remind Affleck of everything for which he should be grateful. That's right; here are 10 reasons why Ben Affleck should live a full and rewarding life, long after Oscar night is forgotten.
Always remember, Ben, that it's always darkest right before the trailers start.
1. You're still tall, rich and handsome.
2. You're still married to Jennifer Garner.
3. You're still daddy to three beautiful kids.
4. You're still best friends with Matt Damon, who would take a rubber bullet for you. Maybe even a real bullet.
5. You're still putting distance between you and that whole Jennifer Lopez fiasco, when you were reduced to selling tabloids instead of selling movies. With each passing day, fewer people associate you with the words "Gigli," "Bennifer" and "Surviving Christmas."
6. You're still the director of three respected movies "Gone Baby Gone," "The Town" and "Argo."
7. You're still able to pick up the phone and call George Clooney on his private line.
8. You're still in possession of two fallback professions in case this directing thing doesn't work out. You can always write, and you can always act.
9. You're still one heck of a poker player, winning the California State Poker Championship in 2004, and a spot in the World Series of Poker. That wasn't a celebrity seat, but a real poker player's slot you earned.
10. You're still Ben Affleck. You're allowed 24 hours after the Oscars to feel down. By Feb. 25, the grace period is over. Get on with your life. Direct another movie and maybe we'll see you at next year's Oscars.
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