Ben Affleck, director and star of Argo, is good at playing the underdog – a role industry watchers believe could help him get one over on Academy Award frontrunners Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook to make Oscar history come February 24. Affleck's surprise double-win at the Golden Globes last weekend, for Best Director and Best Actor, has set off a wave of chatter that the crowd-pleasing Iran hostage drama could pull off a big upset by becoming just the fourth film in 85 years to swing an Oscar for Best Picture without a corresponding nomination for Best Director.
Affleck, who along with Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Hooper (Les Mis,) was left out of the all-important Best Director Oscar category (making way for the worthy but unlikely inclusion of Ben Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Michael (Amour) Haneke, took a tongue-in-cheek jab at the slight during the recent Critics' Choice Awards.
"I would like to thank the academy," he began his acceptance speech before pointedly adding: "This is the one that counts."
By Sunday night, Affleck had changed his tune, delivering gracious soundbites that wouldn't offend Oscar voters ("I'm an enormous admirer of the academy,"), who pundits speculate, might be swayed to compensate what many view as an injustice to the Argo director with a sympathetic endorsement – particularly if the film performs as well as expected at the upcoming Screen Actors' Guild awards (January 27) and Directors' Guild of America awards which take place on February 2, just six days before the 12-day Oscar voting period begins.
Admitting he was "disappointed" by Affleck's omission from the big-ticket category, Clooney said he believes the Best Picture hopes for Argo are "not dead yet".
Beauties and Bill hang out
You can't blame Claire Danes for losing the plot after picking up her second Golden Globe for Homeland, but the very excited actress, who was blown away by the attention paid to her by one particular fan after the award show, might have thought to phrase herself a tad more cautiously.
In a TV interview conducted in the foyer of the Beverly Hilton the new mom sounded a bit like her lovably unhinged character Carrie Mathison when she boasted about being invited for some one-on-one face time "in a special room" with Golden Globe presenter, former president Bill Clinton.
Or at least like somebody who managed to miss the whole Monica Lewinsky mess.
"President Bill Clinton asked if I would come and meet him in some special room," the 33-year-old told a bemused Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. "So I just hung out with Bill Clinton... in a room somewhere in this hotel, surrounded by lots of very scary looking men."
"He's a fan of the show," the actress, who also counts President Obama as a fan, explained earnestly. "He very sweetly said that he appreciated how the character is kind of shedding light on mental illness, which is still a taboo subject. So, that was very flattering and I was very touched."
Handing late-night comics even more ammunition, Danes also revealed who else was in the special room.
Hale Hillary – 'first husband'
Hillary may still be on the fence about running in 2016, but her husband is helping the outgoing Secretary of State keep her options open. Last week, Bill Clinton joked about how Hillary calls him "her first husband" because he thinks she's so healthy that she'll live to be 120 years old.
Firmly putting the kibosh on any notions that his wife's recent health scare might present problems for any future opportunities, Mr Clinton told attendees at a Palm Springs health conference: "She's always been very, very healthy and she has very low blood pressure, very low standing heartbeat. I tell her that, you know, she's still got time to have three more husbands after me. So, I think she'll live to be 120."
Asked what advice he will give his wife on her exit from public life, Mr Clinton replied: "My advice is that she should rest up and decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life."
Maybe for about a week.
Oprah to miss Obama gig
Don't count Oprah or George Clooney among the 52 per cent of Americans who make up President Obama's approval rating as he prepares to be sworn into office for a second term tomorrow. Both high-profile Team Obama cheerleaders have decided to give the inaugural festivities a miss in a move some are reading as a rather pointed snub. But Obama isn't exactly going to be lacking in star power. Among the 600,000 to 800,000 people expected on the National Mall – a drop from the 1.8 million in 2009 – are Beyonce who will sing the national anthem, Kelly Clarkson who will perform My Country 'Tis of Thee and James Taylor who will deliver America the Beautiful.
Celebrity partygoers expected to contribute to the gridlock scene include Sophia Bush, Moby, Danny Glover, John Legend, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, Eva Longoria, Marc Anthony, Kirsten Dunst, Paula Abdul, John Leguizamo, Evan Handler and David Arquette. No word yet on how Prez Obama plans to fulfil his promise of less arctic weather this time around.