Is 'Argo' on a stealth mission to spirit the Best Picture Oscar away from the epics that have been zealously guarding the prize as if it were already theirs?

After Sunday's Golden Globes, with its major upset wins for Ben Affleck's spy thriller in both the Best Drama and Best Director categories, you have to wonder whether the Oscars might not follow suit.

True, the film can't win a Best Director Oscar, since Affleck wasn't even nominated. Indeed, after the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday, "Argo" seemed like an also-ran, upstaged by the likes of "Lincoln," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "The Master." But Sunday's wins for "Argo" -- following similar surprise wins in the same categories on Thursday night at the Critics' Choice Awards -- suggest that there's a secret groundswell brewing for the movie about a fake movie.

Still, the odds are slim that "Argo" can win an Academy Award for Best Picture without even having been nominated for Best Director. Last time that happened was 23 years ago, when "Driving Miss Daisy" took the top prize.

"Argo" could also win for its screenplay or its supporting actor (Alan Arkin), though it lost to "Django Unchained" in both categories at the Globes, in two of Sunday's other big upsets. With his Globe win, Quentin Tarantino is now the frontrunner for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Django," and Globe winner Christoph Waltz is now the man to beat for his supporting turn in Tarantino's pre-Civil War epic.

Other Globe wins tended to confirm what pundits had already been saying about the momentum gathering in some categories. "Lincoln" star Daniel Day-Lewis was the frontrunner going in; he's still the frontrunner after his Globe prize for Best Actor in a Drama. Same with Jessica Chastain of "Zero Dark Thirty," whose Globe for Best Actress in a Drama confirms her pack-leader status at the Oscars. Day-Lewis' only real threat comes from Hugh Jackman, who won Best Acor in a Comedy or Musical for "Les Miserables"; same with Chastain and Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical winner Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook"). And "Les Mis" remains a strong contender for Best Picture, having won the Globe for Best Comedy or Musical, as well as the Supporting Actress trophy for Anne Hathaway, who was and continues to be the favorite in that category at the Oscars.

Globe victories also confirmed the momentum of Adele's "Skyfall" theme in the Best Original Song category, and of "Amour," the Austrian drama that's up for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (the prize it won at the Globes), as well as the Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Director and Actress Oscars.

The Original Score category saw a minor upset, with Mychael Danna winning a Globe for his "Life of Pi" music over scoring legend John Williams for "Lincoln." Danna now has to be considered the Oscar frontrunner in the category, where he'll face off against most of the same competitors, including Williams, "Argo" composer Alexandre Desplat and "Anna Karenina" composer Dario Marianelli.

Beyond that, the predictive power of the Globes is limited this year more than ever. For the first time in recent memory, the Globes were handed out after the Oscar nominations were announced, so they had no effect on determining this year's nominees. They could still influence Oscar voters filling out their final ballots, but they're probably more useful as a general barometer of Hollywood sentiment toward the nominated films and performers. And right now, Hollywood really seems to love comeback kid Ben Affleck.
categories Movies