Is ‘Argo’ winning without winning?

A passing thought …

“Zero Dark Thirty” has topped fellow Thanksgiving weekend awards-season entry “Les Miserables” as the flavor of the moment, emerging as the pride of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review.

But should the momentum of  “Zero” flag in similar fashion to “The Social Network” two years ago when it grabbed both those honors, what will step in?

At Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeffrey Wells posits the alternative as “Silver Linings Playbook” — which earned NBR recognition today in screenplay and lead actor — but it’s not clear to me that the David O. Russell film is the most logical place for the pendulum to swing. “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” and “Life of Pi,” among others, also lurk … as do their detractors.

Instead, consider the well-liked “Argo,” which approaches the stakes of “Zero Dark Thirty” while delivering much of the whip-smart fun that has so endeared “Silver Linings” to its fans. “Argo” doesn’t go to either film’s extreme, but it combines some of their best elements.

And the breadth of its popularity must be reckoned with. While it might not be everyone’s No. 1 film, it could very well be No. 2 on a lot of lists — a movie that could rise to the top as less popular picture nominees are eliminated, one-by-one.

Not a prediction … just a notion.

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