It's possible that 2012 will go down as the year that films became so diverse in excellence, the balance of awards had to be more diffuse rather than uniform. That stretch is now between "Argo" and "Lincoln", the latter of which still seems to have logic in winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But with "Argo" winning the Darryl F. Zanuck Award at the Producers Guild Awards, does the Academy Awards still have the guts to present "Argo" Best Picture without having a Best Director win?
Of course, we're assuming that the Oscars will follow in the usual footsteps of the PGA winners. With film burgeoning like never before, coming years may take away the notion that all award shows back one industry favorite and instead decide to pick multiple choices. This isn't necessarily a troublesome trend, and it makes award shows more interesting as well as spreading the award wealth around.
With that in mind, we have to wish Oscar voters award "Lincoln" profusely to begin that diversity. The Oscar academy likely knows that if "Lincoln" gets shut out, it won't look good. As well, "Argo" winning best picture with the Ben Affleck director snub would regress Oscar more than 20 years.
Most people remember that the last time a best picture winner won without a best director win (or nomination) was "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1990. It seems Oscar took the criticism of that situation seriously and avoided doing such a thing again until the problematic scenario of this year. One almost has to believe there was envy by Oscar voters over Affleck being a better director than he is actor.
So far, all other academies did away with bias, even if Oscar possibly awarding "Argo" best picture is essentially saying Affleck is a better co-producer than he is director. And that's loaded with irony considering Affleck said he isn't even a PGA member after winning the best picture nod there last night. It's all enough of a setup for Oscar to be painted into a corner they may regret without some changes.
One of those changes may have to be adding a sixth director nominee rather than going with the standard five. Nobody said the Oscars couldn't have gone that route this year rather than being so adamant with tradition. Considering they resumed nine to ten best picture nominees, the ratio should be closer in proportion with the director nominee list.
Keeping it to five nominees for the acting categories always seems to work out for the better. That's because great acting performances are seemingly becoming fewer and provide a more narrowed competitive edge. Directing, however, is having a renaissance in new talents arriving in the field that can't always fit into a five-nominee box.
By far, it didn't used to be that way when you could basically count less than 10 truly superior directors working in the film industry less than 20 years ago. It's why Martin Scorsese and Spielberg kept having periodic nominations within that time span. Leaving out Kathryn Bigelow and Affleck is akin to hiring a bouncer throwing notables out of an international party.
Outside of everything, it's possible the Oscars are adamant about their traditions as a way to create debate and suspense. They may consider their being painted into a corner to be a benefit in households debating film, something most families wouldn't take the time to discuss at the dinner table.