Look, I like Ben Affleck. I’m happy for his success. I loved Argo. He did a bang-up job on it and deserves immense credit for helming a terrific movie. I thought Gone Baby Gone was a real accomplishment and one of the best movies of its year, and he has continued to produce quality work since then, even though I still consider that one to be his greatest work so far. He seems like a good guy and whatever issues I have with his on-screen work, he’s a tremendous talent behind the camera, which Argo further demonstrates. It’s to the point where maybe he did contribute to the Oscar-winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting after all, which we all naturally assumed was primarily the work of his pal Matt Damon.
But honestly, best director of the year? And best film of the year? Maybe if this was 2005 there’d be a compelling case to be made. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately!), 2012 has been a remarkably great year at the movies. Like just outstanding. The quality of output from filmmakers this year has been top notch—the best year in a long while, according to what seems to be a near-consensus of critics. So awarding Argo and Ben Affleck with the top honors of the year, which the Hollywood Foreign Press did at least weekend’s Golden Globes, seems…inappropriate. It’s not one of those things where it’s like “WTF why did this terrible movie win!!?” but more like “yeah I really liked that one…but what about all these others??”
Now there’s a movement afoot to get Affleck the Oscar via a write-in ballot. This seems a bit much, no? There has been too much talent this year that naturally had to be overlooked. Any list of five directors was going to leave out some enormously skilled filmmakers who did great work this year. To prove it, here’s a list of directors whose work I would argue is more deserving of a Golden Globe statue or Oscar write-in vote than that of our dear Mr. Ben Affleck. And in the interest of fairness, I won’t include the five Oscar nominees, Michael Haneke, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, and Benh Zeitlin on this list, even though they all produced incredible works in the last year and deserve recognition. But these other names are in the same Oscar boat as Ben. Maybe think about writing them in, Academy members!
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