Ben Affleck

Courtesy: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Cinema For Peace

Ben Affleck's latest movie, Argo, won him surprise Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Awards for Best Picture and Best Director and is currently up for an Oscar for Best Picture.

But critics and fans alike are wondering just how the Academy could have passed him over for a Best Director nomination.

The snub has now prompted calls by some industry observers to bring back the write-in ballot that the folks behind Hollywood's Biggest Night did away with back in the 1930s.

Herein lies the problem. 

The Dark Knight's failure to secure a Best Picture nomination in 2009 stirred something of an uproar that led the Academy's board of governors to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from the usual five to as many as 10 contenders the following year.

This year's field features nine nominees: Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Amour, Django Unchained and Argo.

However, Best Director nods only include five: David O. Russell for Silver Linings, Ang Lee for Pi, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Michael Haneke for Amour and Ben Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Affleck, sadly, was left out in the cold along with Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark, Quentin Tarantino for Django and Tom Hooper for Les Mis.

With the momentum Argo has built with its recent victories, particularly at the Globes, which has long been a prognosticator for the Oscars, it's possible the thriller could end up winning Best Picture without its director being nominated—an occasion that's happened only four times in 85 years.

As a result, Scott Feinberg and Stephen Galloway, award analysts with The Hollywood Reporter, have argued that the Academy's board of governors could correct this injustice by agreeing to reinstate write-in voting.

They noted that it's been done before. After failing to garner a nod for Best Actress for 1934's Of Human Bondage, voters wrote in Bette Davis on the ballot, though she failed to win. The next year, they honored Hal Mohr with a write-in, making him the first and only person to win an Academy Award that way when he took home the trophy for Best Cinematographer. The system was subsequently retired not long after this.

But according to the trade, the Academy could bring it back if its board of governors signed off on it, though it would also mean a major retooling of the new online voting system the group implemented for the first time this year for Oscar voters.

(Here's an idea: How about just expanding the number of Best Director nominees perhaps?)

For now, unless a bigger outcry leads to such changes, Affleck will have to watch the Best Director contest from the sidelines. However, as a producer, he still has a shot at reaching the podium if Argo wins Best Picture.

At that point, he can always tell them to "Argo f--k yourself."


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