Directors Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck at AFI Awards at the Four Seasons… (Frazer Harrison )
Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow put on brave faces at the annual AFI Awards luncheon on Friday, sharing a hug and some smiles even as the banquet room at the Four Seasons was abuzz about how both were passed over for an Oscar nomination for best director a day earlier.
The American Film Institute was honoring their pictures, Affleck's "Argo" and Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," along with eight other titles as AFI Movies of the Year: "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "The Dark Knight Rises," "Django Unchained," "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Moonrise Kingdom," and "Silver Linings Playbook." AFI also recognized 10 TV shows as programs of the year.
Unlike many other Hollywood gatherings this time of year, attendees at the AFI lunch don't go home divided into winners or losers. Striking a warm and inviting tone, AFI President Bob Gazzale welcomed the house of power players by saying: “Our wish for today is that this room become a respite from the noise .... We want you to feel good about your work and feel good about the people you work with because together you have created something beautiful. In the weeks to come and the years that will pass, nothing can take that away from you.”
Besides Affleck and Bigelow, the room was packed with top directors and actors and studio brass, including Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Judd Apatow, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks.
Benh Zeitlin, the 30-year-old director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" who scored a surprise Oscar nomination on Thursday morning, said he was "just thrilled to be in the room." Some of these people have been doing this for years, he noted, "but it's all new to me and that's great."
Clips of each honored film were played, with introductions by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin.
Director-producer Norman Jewison, 86, gave a benediction at which he tried to inject some perspective into the mad dash of Hollywood's awards season, and take some of the focus off the horse race.
"We need you to entertain us, yes, but also to give us some little insight into ourselves, our nation, our society and in the end to remind us that we’re all in this together," said the seven-time Oscar nominee. "To come together once a year without being called a winner or a loser is a gift .… In the weeks to come you are all going to walk a mile of red carpet ... and some of you will win something and some of you will not, but believe me, none of that really matters."
Oscar 2013 trivia
Oscar play-at-home ballot
Oscars 2013: Full coverage