Oscar Buzz Watch: Ben Affleck Is Definitely Getting Oscar-Nominated

Ben Affleck is definitely getting Oscar-nominated for Argo. When it opens in theaters next weekend, and you make it your compromise movie because nobody can agree on Pitch Perfect or Seven Psychopaths (and no one wants to see Here Comes the Boom, come on), you should watch it with the full knowledge that Ben Affleck is a stone-cold certainty to be nominated come January, for either Best Actor or (more likely) Best Director. It’s just absolutely going to happen.

You can try to pretend it won’t happen—maybe you’d rather it wouldn’t? Maybe you’re still holding on to some of that Bennifer resentment. And who could blame you? He was actually kissing her butt in the "Jenny from the Block" video! That’s how much they thought the public wanted to see them! Or maybe yours is a more high-minded resistance. Maybe it was that five-year-or-so stretch in the 2000s where he made an unbroken string of terrible movies, roughly from Bounce in 2000 through Surviving Christmas in 2004 (we’re being kind and granting his Golden Globe-nominated role in Hollywoodland as a streak-breaker. You’re under no obligation to do so). For a long while, Ben Affleck was about as far from Oscar material as you could possibly be. But that is exactly why it’s even more certain that he’s DEFINITELY getting Oscar-nominated for Argo

If there’s anything Oscar loves more than an actor-turned-director—do I even have to mention the award-winning names? Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner (Kevin COSTNER!)—it’s a comeback story. Particularly a comeback story where the individual is "coming back" from trying to make studio heads and agents lots and lots of money with movies like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor and Daredevil. Oh no! How will these businessmen ever forgive him for pulling in $118 million domestic for The Sum of All Fears?? Of course, what he’s really coming back from is a reputation as a great Hollywood doof. Sure, he won an Oscar seemingly right out of the gate with Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, but having to stand on all those red carpets next to perfect little Hollywood-sized Matt Damon, Affleck couldn’t help but look like the big dumb galoot along for the ride. Then Damon proceeded to go on one of the more interesting career arcs in recent memory, careering from art house disaster (noooooo, All the Pretty Horses!) to Bourne billions, ultimately becoming one of the better-liked A-listers in Hollywood. All of which only made Affleck look even worse in comparison, when people even bothered to think about him at all. (Never mind that while Affleck was getting slammed for cashing a paycheck on a movie actually called Paycheck, Damon wasn’t exactly covering himself in glory as Greg Kinnear’s conjoined twin in Stuck on You. See? You’re starting to feel a swell of sympathy for Affleck even now, aren’t you?) Then, in 2007, Affleck made the dubious-seeming decision to step behind the camera, and the result was the quite good Gone Baby Gone. So good that it nabbed an Oscar nomination for Amy Ryan and at least made people stop chuckling when talk turned to "Ben Affleck: Director." Three years later, Affleck directed The Town which, this writer’s contrary opinion of it notwithstanding, was very well-received by critics and was generally considered to have missed the Best Picture top ten that year by a hair’s breadth.

And next weekend, Affleck will see his third directorial effort hit screens with Argo, the "based on recently de-classified documents" political thriller / Hollywood farce (like chocolate and peanut butter, those genres!) that sees Affleck co-starring with a serious ’70s beard as a CIA operative who gets the bright idea to impersonate a Canadian film crew in order to infiltrate Iran and rescue six Americans during the 1979 hostage crisis. By the way, if the logline doesn’t sell you, Argo might end up being worth the ticket price for the sheer volume of character actors alone: John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Chris Messina, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, Phillip Baker Hall; I could go on (Clea DuVall!) and on (Titus Welliver!). This is classic Hollywood mythmaking (Zeljko Ivanek! Sorry, last one), where the very idea of The Movies is the apparatus that will free six American heroes during one of the darkest times in American history. Who’s NOT nominating this thing?

"Sure, for Best Picture, maybe," you say. "There could be ten nominees. How can you be so sure Affleck will be one of five directors so honored?" To that I say: ARE YOU SERIOUSLY CRAZY? You’re seeing all the ingredients here, right? Actor-turned-director. A wet dream of a campaign narrative. The slight air of being "owed" for his previous movies coming so close. Oh, and also, everybody who saw Argo at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals freaked out and started screaming "OSCAR!!!!" out their hotel windows into the late-summer air. Not every movie currently sits atop the "Gurus o’ Gold" Oscar prediction charts, you know. Argo also sits comfortably in the Best Picture ranks on both Hitfix and Vulture, though Vulture is RIDICULOUSLY blind to his Best Director chances, which is just too preposterous to consider. This is HAPPENING! Accept it.

Argo opens in theaters on October 12th. Oscar nominees are announced on January 10th. Which leaves Ben Affleck almost exactly three months to figure out how to convince us that he didn’t even know he was nominated until his agent called.

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Morning Links: Burger King Apologizes To Mary J. Blige, Sea Change At ‘SNL’

● Mary J. Blige bemoaned yesterday that her pulled "crispy chicken, fresh lettuce" Burger King commercial was not the "fun and creative campaign" she had signed up for. Burger King meanwhile apologized to Blige and her fans for airing the ad "prematurely," adding that they hope to have the final spot on air soon. [Rap-Up]

● The final autopsy report from the LA County’s Coroner’s Office adds grim details to Whitney Houston’s final moments, but upholds earlier findings that her cause of death was accidental drowning caused by heart disease and cocaine use. [TMZ]

● Rumor has it that Saturday Night Live‘s Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, and Jason Sudeikis are jumping ship at the end of this season. [Us]

● It seems that Jake Gyllenhaal has become something of a teacher’s pet in his spin classes, often winning himself a seat on stage next to the teacher where he raps along to Jay-Z without breaking an additional sweat. [PageSix]

● Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, and, as of yesterday, Amy Ryan, 50 Cent, Snatch‘s Vinnie Jones, and Law and Order‘s Vincent D’Onofrio have all been cast in director Mikael Hafstrom’s The Tomb, a movie about — well, with that motley cast, does it even matter? [Variety]

Amy Ryan Revealed Details of Her Appearance on Steve Carell’s Final ‘Office’ Episode Weeks Ago

A couple of days ago, TV news guru Michael Ausiello posted a story on his website touting a big spoiler alert regarding Steve Carell’s final episode on The Office, set for late next month. The website, TV Line, had previously speculated that Amy Ryan, who plays Carell’s love interest, Holly Flax, might not appear on the April 28th episode. Ausiello thought otherwise.

Paul Feig, who directed the episode, told Ausiello, “All I’ll say is she actually is in the episode in a way, [Holly] is involved,” which left the journalist wondering about specifics. Holly’s involvement in the episode became such a cause for concern that Perez Hilton picked up Ausiello’s spoiler, adding fuel to the fire.

All of this speculation leads us to believe that neither Ausiello or Perez Hilton bothered to read our interview with Amy Ryan from almost two weeks ago, where she reveals the exact capacity in which Holly appears in the episode:

I heard that this is Steve’s last week. Today’s Monday? Yeah, Friday [today] will be his last day at work. I’m involved in the episode, but it’s just a phone call. I did a conference call table read last week, and it was very emotional well after it was done just to hear the room, and it was not easy. There was a lot of high emotion going on. People are going to be very sad to see him go.

So there you have it, folks. Holly Flax will appear via telephone, which probably means that Michael will leave Dunder Mifflin to join her in Nashua.

Amy Ryan on ‘Win Win,’ Typecasting, & Steve Carell’s Final Days on ‘The Office’

In Win Win, the new film from indie auteur Tom McCarthy (The Visitor), Amy Ryan plays a devoted New Jersey mom who has a lot of love to give, including to the strange, abandoned kid her husband (Paul Giamatti) brings home one day. It’s the antithesis to the motherhood Ryan put on display in 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, a role that, as a drug-addicted single parent, earned the actress an Oscar nomination. After that career-making milestone, Ryan trumped all expectations by appearing on NBC’s The Office as Holly Flax, the goofy human resources rep who steals Michael Scott’s heart, and sets the wheels in motion for the beloved character’s exit from the show this April. Here’s Amy Ryan on her new film, avoiding getting typecast, and the final days of Michael Scott.

Did you know anyone like the character you play, growing up? I do know women like that. There’s an efficiency to their opinions. They don’t reflect on what they have said, or contemplate what they’re about to say.

I think your character had maybe the most pivotal line in the film, which was a simple, “We love you.” We actually added that in, once he had wrapped. That was something, once the film was assembled, that was like, We really need to hear this. I think we were a bit worried it was going to be too sentimental.

The press kit refers to this as your “first foray into film comedy.” Do you see it that way? I don’t know if I really thought of it that way. The script had great humor, but when we first premiered it at Sundance, I was surprised and reminded that there was such humor in it. Because when you’re in it, you’re playing the reality of this family. It’s not a flat-out Judd Apatow thing.

You were neighbors with Tom in Greenwich village? Yeah, we lived about a block away from each others and had a bunch of mutual friends, and we’d all go to this bar nearby, Dublin 6. I remember being there one night with Bobby Cannavale, Pete Dinklage, Patty Clarkson, and Tom, and they were talking about this film he was working on, The Station Agent, and I though, This is cool, I’d love to work someday like this, with friends. So years later, when Tom told me was writing something win me in mind, I was like, yay!

Back then, did you know he has this amazing insight into human relationships? No, I didn’t know until I saw The Station Agent. It can be a common conversation among actors sitting around a bar: Oh, we should make a movie together! Tom is one of the rare ones that actually does it.

Is it difficult finding solid female roles for film? Is that maybe why you do a lot of TV? I think there’s always been great roles for women in TV. I don’t really have a prejudice between one or the other. It just sort of depends on timing. I hadn’t anticipated working on something like In Treatment last summer, but it came up and was too good to refuse. I’d like to say that I have some master plan, but it is the timing. There are so many parts that are just the wife, but Tom’s other films have such richly-drawn three dimensional women, so I knew she wouldn’t just be holding the laundry basket.

How many interviews have you done so far today? Oh my gosh, I don’t even know.

Has every single person asked you about The Office? Yeah, if I know what’s going to happen. I told every single one of them except you.

Have you told anyone that’s not involved with the show? Oh yeah!

I heard that this is Steve’s last week. Today’s Monday? Yeah, Friday [today] will be his last day at work. I’m involved in the episode, but it’s just a phone call. I did a conference call table read last week, and it was very emotional well after it was done just to hear the room, and it was not easy. There was a lot of high emotion going on. People are going to be very sad to see him go.

Are you sad at all to leave the character of Holly behind? No, it’s not sad, because it’s nice to know something’s complete. I really didn’t anticipate it going as long as it has. It was originally supposed to be one episode. I think I’ve done 15? So it’s all be a bonus, the whole way.

Did your career drastically change after you were nominated for an Oscar? Yeah. There was access to better scripts, better directors, better actors. It kind of upped the ante. People knew suddenly what I could do, or who I was. Those are things that you work so hard for over the years. It’s still a lot of work, but the stakes get higher. Same problems, higher stakes.

Everything you’ve done since then has been nothing like the character you played. You’d think they’d want to type cast you. Well they tried. All the scripts I got after that were single parents who were addicted to substances. My agent and I thought very consciously to try and stay a step ahead. It was a surprise to people for me to end up on a show like The Office, from that. But I like that that made people stop and think.

The 10 Sundance Films Everyone Will Be Talking About

There are so many movies screening at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City this year that it’s nearly impossible to choose ten that are most buzzworthy. I say nearly impossible, because I just pulled it off.

Adventureland – Because this coming-of-age story set in an amusement park is from the director of Superbad. Because it has two of our favorite Kristens, Stewart and Wiig. Because of these clips. And because this is this year’s “This year’s Little Miss Sunshine.”

Big Fan – Because it’s the directorial debut of Robert Siegel, former Onion editor and screenwriter of The Wrestler. Because the story of a Giants fan (Patton Oswalt) from Staten Island who gets into a violent altercation with his favorite player at a strip club couldn’t be more timely. Because this could be the birth of a bright new voice in American cinema.

Rudo y Cursi – Because it reunites Y tu mamá también costars Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal as rival brothers on the same soccer team. Because those two actors helped give Alfonso Cuarón his big break in Y tu mamá and will try and do it again for his baby brother Carlos, who directed this.

Brooklyn’s Finest – Because Michael Martin was a tollbooth worker when he wrote this script to finance repairs on a car he totaled. Because Michael Martin is still a toll booth worker despite Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke, and Don Cheadle starring in his movie. Because the last time Antoine Fuqua directed a gritty cop drama, Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for Training Day.

I Love You Phillip Morris – Because even though this “indie” features superstars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, it features them as gay lovers who fall in love in prison. Because it comes from the twisted minds behind Bad Santa. Because it’s Brokeback Mountain for the Apatow set.

Dead Snow – Because it’s about zombie Nazis. Because I’m not lying.

Tyson Because even Mike Tyson was surprised at the ovation this documentary received at Cannes. Because it will make a convicted rapist, ear biter, and all-around thug seem compassionate, vulnerable, and human.

The September Issue – Because it’s a rare account of the months leading up to Vogue’s biblical September issue. Because you might see Anna Wintour smile, or even laugh. Because she’s more intimidating than Tyson.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men – Because this could be the breakout role for Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s Julianne Nicholson. Because instead of giving the camera knowing looks on The Office, John Krasinski is behind it. Because based on his short stories, it will remind us of the genius of the late David Foster Wallace.

The Missing Person – Because it’s a noirish private eye yarn set in a post-9/11 landscape. Because after Shotgun Stories and Revolutionary Road, a Michael Shannon performance has suddenly become can’t-miss. Because Amy Ryan is no slouch either.