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“Argo” was the upset winner for best picture at the Golden Globes, but the biggest surprise was who introduced the movie that it beat out, “Lincoln.” Former President Bill Clinton walked out onstage to a standing ovation, and tied the movie’s message of principle and compromise to today’s political environment.

Dominic Patten reports at Deadline Hollywood that Steven Spielberg arranged for Clinton to appear, and it was successfully kept under wraps. Spielberg has long ties to Clinton, but the movie already has earned the approval of President Obama and Senate leaders. Dreamworks has positioned the
movie’s present day relevance with screenings at the White House and the
Capitol. As such, they’ve been trying to elevate “Lincoln” as something more than just a movie, or even another Oscar nominee, but as an important commentary for the country.

Whether this matters in the final stretch of award season remains to be seen. The win of “Argo” may shake up the race and even the conventional wisdom that best picture Oscar nominees stand worse chances when their directors don’t earn nods as well.

By the way, as surprising as Clinton’s appearance was, it is not unprecedented for a sitting or former president to take appear at a kudocast. Franklin Roosevelt addressed the Oscars by radio in the early 1940s. Ronald Reagan appeared on the Academy Awards in a taped appearance in 1981. Just a few months out of office, Gerald Ford presented the final award at the People’s Choice Awards in 1977.

Updated: Backstage, Daniel Day-Lewis was asked whether Spielberg arranged the Clinton appearance.

“I know they are friends, and their friendship goes back quite a long way. I
have no doubt conversations led to that” he said.

He added, “I haven’t had a chance to find a corner somewhere and just
reflect on that moment when [Clinton] spoke about our film. I was very honored to
have a conversation with him afterward to hear his thoughts about the man, his
achievements and about …I wouldn’t wish to try to put that in a sentence or
two, but yes, it was an incredible privilege to have him, a Lincolnian
scholar in his own right, speak about the film that way.”