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Academy Awards behind-the-scenes chatter: Will ‘Argo’ or ‘Lincoln’ win? (+video)

The talk in Hollywood has gone beyond the single efforts of ‘Argo’ and ‘Lincoln’ to an evaluation of the careers of their directors, Ben Affleck and Steven Spielberg.

By Staff writer / February 24, 2013

A worker adjusts the positioning of an Oscar statue on the red carpet during preparations for the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California.

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Los Angeles

During the countdown to the Oscars, the behind-the-scenes narratives arising about the nominees and earlier winners in the awards season are watched closely. And sometimes, they have as much impact on who takes home statuettes as the films themselves.

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Ben Affleck wasn't nominated for best director for Argo. Steven Spielberg was nominated for Lincoln. Who is more deserving?

Nearly every year, there are “the snubbed,” the “comeback kids,” the “dark horses,” and sentimental favorites, among other familiar archetypes.

“This is an industry of storytellers,” points out Matt McDaniel, the Los Angeles-based managing editor of Yahoo! Movies. Spinning stories “is what everyone here does.”

This year, much of the talk has centered on the “Lincoln”-“Argo” face-off – which most critics think are the top two contenders for Best Picture. As is often the case, the discussions have gone beyond the single efforts to an evaluation of entire careers.

2013’s most passionately pitied “snub” – in case you have been reading about Oscar Pistorius in South Africa instead of the Oscars – is “Argo” director Ben Affleck. After he collected Golden Globes for both director and best film, the town issued a collective gasp when he was passed over for directing in the Academy Award nominations.

Everyone assumed Mr. Affleck would be a shoo-in for Best Director, says Stephen Brown, a marketing professional in Atlanta. “He made an outstanding movie, plus he overcame a challenging decade of paparazzi and bad-movie-fueled malaise,” he says via e-mail. Hollywood generally loves to reward talent it discovered when young, he says, pointing to Affleck’s 1998 Oscar for “Good Will Hunting.”

The industry particularly likes the comeback story, Mr. Brown says, adding that in this case, because of the shoo-in assumption and the subsequent snub, many academy voters are seeing a Best Picture Oscar for “Argo.”

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