2013 Calvin Awards: Best Director

By Kim Hollis

February 22, 2013

Ben Affleck strikes his 'Big-Time Director' pose.

Director was a close race this year, just as we suspect it has been throughout awards season. Interestingly enough, our top two selections are individuals who were not nominated for Academy Awards this year. Nine different individuals received first place votes during the selection process, showing once again that 2012 was a year with an abundance of good films, though not one that is an overwhelming favorite.

The Calvin Award for Best Director goes to Ben Affleck, and if you had told me back in 2003 that in a decade we'd be having this discussion, I would have assumed you were delusional or a hapless Boston Red Sox fan or perhaps both. Now we sit in the year 2013, the Red Sox have won two World Series titles, and Affleck has directed three seriously good movies. The first of those, Gone Baby Gone, placed right at #21 on our list of best films during its year of release, while Affleck placed seventh in the director category. His next effort, The Town, finished higher up the Best Picture list at #11, with Affleck moving up to take fifth place amongst helmers. Move forward a couple more years and Affleck as now ascended to the top of our director list, while the film itself placed third in the Best Picture Category. Clearly, we really like Affleck's work, and he's only getting better and better as he hones his craft.


Argo is a taut thriller set right in the midst of the Iran hostage crisis. Instead of being a dry examination of the efforts to aid Americans trapped in the home of the Canadian Ambassador, Affleck approaches the story as an exciting, tense series of events with some comedic elements even thrown into the mix. The film shifts tone easily and naturally, moving from the endangered Americans to the Hollywood makeup artist and producer who help create their cover. By the end of the film, even if we know exactly how it will end, we're on the edge of our seats, rooting for a plane to take to the air. Affleck's come a long way from his early role as Basketball Player #10 in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

Finishing just a few points behind for a similarly exciting take on historical events in the Middle East is Kathryn Bigelow, who follows up the exemplary The Hurt Locker with Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow won previously for The Hurt Locker, so she's establishing herself as quite the talent amongst BOP staffers. Whereas The Hurt Locker focused upon the thrill seekers who handle bomb disposal, Zero Dark Thirty is a far more deliberate, careful film. The story proceeds slowly, which is not to say that the film itself is slow. In fact, watching Maya's investigation into the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden unfold is intriguing, engaging stuff. By the time we get to the raid on the compound that comprises approximately the final half hour of the film, the tension is unmistakably high despite the fact that again, we know exactly how this story will end. We hope that Bigelow keeps up the comparably torrid pace she's been on with her moviemaking over the past few years.

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