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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Ben Affleck, Superb Boston Accents Now Oscar Bait

According to this morning’s Hollywood Reporter, The Town—the Ben Affleck-directed, Boston-set heist thriller featuring Jeremy Renner as a thug incapable of making an ‘R’ sound—is an “Oscar Contender.” I saw the movie Friday night in a packed house in Union Square. And while I wouldn’t say that The Town compares with artistic crime capers on the level of, say, Dog Day Afternoon or Spike Lee’s Inside Man, it certainly gets the job done, both literally and figuratively.

The Oscar thing seems like a stretch, especially considering the film’s incredibly cheesy ending, but I wouldn’t be surprised or upset to see Renner get a Best Supporting nod for his James Cagney-channeling performance as a small ball of combustible anger. Ultimately, The Town’s worth seeing for a number of reasons: Renner, funny nun masks, a well-executed Fenway Park heist, smart man’s crush Rebecca Hall as the victim-turned-McThug-lover, Blake Lively’s surprisingly impressive performance as a Affleck’s spurned townie lover. But probably the best reason is that, for the first time in film history, all the Boston accents sound authentic.

Your Guide to This Weekend’s Movies Based on Stereotypes About You

It’s the weekend after Labor Day, the official start of the fall film season, and for the first time in a long while, there’s a lot of stuff in theaters that actually looks watchable. To help you choose what to see this weekend, I’ve created a guide based on broad stereotypes. Good luck!

Never Let Me Go See this if… ● You spent your summer vacations in the British countryside in the care of some distant aunt; you had some lost love affair there that makes you wax nostalgic. ● You always wished you’d spent your summers in the British countryside having love affairs. ● You are a middle-aged British man like my dad, who is obsessed with Charlotte Rampling. ● You are on a date with someone who wears cardigans, keeps a diary, and whose favorite photograph of him/herself involves light rain, tangly wet hair, and staring off into the distance.

Do not see if… ● You’ve seen the trailer, because it gives away the entire film and ruins all the surprises.

Easy A: See this if… ● You are a large group of high school kids sneaking rum-infused 20 oz. cokes into the theater because Mike F’s brother came through with his fake ID. There will be a lot of very broad humor and obvious sexual innuendo that you will find funny, but the girl sitting next to you probably won’t make out with you. ● You are a virgin. ● You are a middle-aged British man like my dad, who is obsessed with American high school movies because he never got to have a prom. ● Your best girlfriend from college is in town and you just want to put on sweats and eat popcorn like the old days.

Do not see if… ● You are a middle-aged man who wants to meet virgins.

The Town: See this if… ● You are from Boston and think anything to do with Boston is the best thing ever. When Fenway Park is shown during a movie, you clap uncontrollably. Also, you love Ben Affleck, even though you think he is a bit gay. ● You are not from Boston, but you think Boston accents are the funniest thing ever. ● You are a man like my dad who will see pretty much anything that involves guns and/or heists/robberies. ● You want to have sex with Jon Hamm, and don’t care that he has a small part in the film. All Hamm is good Hamm.

Do not see if… ● You have a vagina and aren’t from Boston and don’t think Boston accents are funny.

Catfish: See this if… ● You spend most of your life meeting women on the Internet. ● You spend most of your life fantasizing about spending your life meeting women on the Internet when all you really do is play world of Warcraft. ● You loved the Blair Witch Project. ● You are really upset that Craigslist closed their Adult Services

Do Not see this if… ● You are my dad.

Dispatch from Toronto Film Festival: “The Town” the Most Buzzing Flick in Town

The last time I ran into a celebrity in a public bathroom was back in 1998, when Blur played a sold-out show in Atlanta. I had been home for summer break, watched the band perform, and afterward driven my friend, who was flying back to Boston the next day, to the airport. It was her lucky day: Blur was on her flight. Maybe it was my lucky day, too, as I ran into Damon Albarn at the Hartsfield Airport Terminal B bathroom and congratulated him on the show, swooning the whole drive home. My most recent celebrity bathroom run-in? Jeremy Renner at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall, where the premier of his new movie—The Town—was held this past weekend. Renner wasn’t my only celebrity encounter that night, either. During the screening, I found myself seated between Edward Norton and Channing Tatum, while an unusually red-faced Greg Kinnear sat just a few rows away. The Town, debuting in theaters on September 17, is Ben Affleck’s new Hollywood blockbuster, a crime thriller that he directed and stars in. Before the movie began, he came out with co-stars Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Blake Lively (who surprisingly plays the “ugly role” real well in the film) to introduce the film.

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Crowds waited in the rainy night outside the theater for celebrity red-carpet entrances. Post-screening, Belve-doused afterparty options abounded. Hayden Christensen was hosting an event at Ultra, Mickey Rourke was partying at Cabin Five, and other parties were dispersed throughout the city’s hot-spots. But I’d had my fair share of celebrity run-ins and headed back to Fairmont Royal York, where I didn’t even have to do a double-take when I spotted True Blood‘s Jason Stackhouse in the lobby. It looks like Toronto is the new Tinseltown (for eleven days, that is).

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