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But Affleck’s “Argo,” in which he also stars as a CIA operative who hatches a bold plan to rescue six Americans during the hostage crisis in Iran, has swept up all the major awards since the Oscar nominations. “Argo” won best drama and director at the Golden Globes and top film honors from the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America.
Many of the same film professionals who vote in guild awards also cast ballots for the Oscars. If Affleck wins at the Directors Guild awards, it will be a strong sign that “Argo” has the inside track for the best-picture Oscar.
Affleck may have a bit of newcomer’s edge at the guild, where he’s the only first-time nominee. Spielberg has won the guild prize a record three times, for “The Color Purple,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” Lee has won twice, for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain,” while Bigelow won three years ago for “The Hurt Locker” and Hooper won two years ago for “The King’s Speech.”
A win for Affleck would nick the guild’s record as a strong forecast for the eventual directing recipient at the Oscars. Only six times in the 64-year history of the guild awards has the winner there failed to follow up with an Oscar. It would be No. 7 if Affleck wins Saturday, since he’s not up for best director at the Oscars.
Peer loyalty might play in Affleck’s favor at the Oscars. The acting branch in particular, the largest block of the academy’s 5,900 members, might really throw its weight behind “Argo” because of Affleck’s directing snub. Actors love it when one of their own moves into a successful directing career, and Affleck _ who’s rarely earned raves for his dramatic chops _ also delivers one of his best performances in “Argo.”
Affleck has had no traction in acting honors this season, and he’s joked that no one considered it a snub when he wasn’t nominated for best actor. So a best-picture vote for “Argo” might be viewed as making right his omission from the directing lineup and acknowledging what a double-threat talent he’s become in front of and behind the camera.
But it’s not as though Affleck has never gotten his due at Hollywood awards before. He and Matt Damon jump-started their careers with 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” for which they shared a screenplay Oscar.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.
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