Backstage in the press room at the 18th Critics' Choice Awards, an eruption of applause sounded out when Ben Affleck ("Argo") was named Best Director by the broadcast movie critics, mere hours after he was snubbed by the Oscars.
A shocked Affleck took the stage amidst a standing ovation from his peers and critics and then uttered what would become the best one-liner of the 2012 awards season: "I would like to thank the Academy!"
Affleck then back-peddled a bit, saying, "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. This is the one that counts."
He went on to gush about the other helmers in his category, including fellow Oscar snubees Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") and Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables"). "There are so many unbelievable directors in this category who I can only look up to," Affleck said. "And so many who didn't get nominated, and I'm really humbled by that."
Before the Academy Award nominations were announced on January 10, Affleck was considered one of the frontrunners to take home Oscar gold. His snub was one of the biggest heard around Hollywood, particulary after he was nominated by all of the precusor awards including the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and the all-important Directors Guild of America.
Affleck may have gotten the first laugh, but he won't get the last one. That honor will go to one of Oscar's five nominated directors for 2012: Michael Haneke ("Amour"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook"), Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") or Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild").