Of all the snubs for this year’s Academy Awards, one of the biggest shockers has easily been Ben Affleck’s missing nomination for directing Argo. But Affleck shouldn’t fret too much. Alan Arkin — who was nominated for his performance as the acerbic Hollywood producer who aids the CIA’s real-life rescue of six Americans trapped in Iran — hopes his fellow actor-director keeps all the accolades Affleck’s already received in perspective.
“He’s certainly got an enormous amount of attention for it across the board,” Arkin told EW, “and I think it absolutely secures his place as one of the most important directors in the country. So even though it’s a slight, I think he’s in good shape.”
The four-time nominee, who won in the same category for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, has also dabbled in directing from time to time, and he notes that Affleck’s background as an actor lent him an insight that helped the movie. “I think actors in general tend to be kinder to actors because they have a sense of what the needs and expectations are,” Arkin says. “Ben was very warm, very kind, very articulate, and exacting. He knew exactly what he wanted and needed and we weren’t allowed to run rampant. He had a very tight control on the tone of the film and it shows. It’s a meticulously directed movie.”
Argo itself, however, isn’t exactly meticulous when it comes to sticking close to the facts of the real-life story its telling — unlike Lincoln, which won the most nods this year with 12, including for director Steven Spielberg. Questions of factual accuracy have also plagued Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden — and that film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, also failed to earn a nomination for her work.
Arkin, however, dismisses these concerns as beside the point. “People bend the facts and shape them to their whim and will whenever they want. “When a movie calls itself a documentary and is pointing to things that are actually going on, it’s still skewed,” he says. “Reality is skewed by how people look at things, invariably. My concern with Argo is that it’s an immaculate and deeply moving film. I don’t even care the extent to which it mirrors the naturalistic reality of what [really] happened. All I care is that I walk out of that theater moved and elated by its view of the human condition and what we can accomplish as a result of imagination and invention, and not resorting to violence. A major operation is accomplished without a single shot being fired. It’s done peacefully and imaginatively. I think it matters how you end up feeling. That’s enough for me, I don’t need to see chapter and verse.”
But enough about history and politics. How does the 78-year-old Arkin feel about his nomination? “It reminds me that I’m still alive.”
(Reporting by Keith Staskiewicz)
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