Argo is on my Oscar list for 2012.
The Iran Hostage Crisis took place in during my freshman year of high school. I was just coming into a vague awareness of news events as I started crossing that bridge from snot nosed kid to snot nosed teenager. The whole affair was bizarre and unthinkable. Ben Affleck’s filmic account of the six Americans who just barely escaped the embassy before it was overrun by the Iranians is surrealistically authentic.
Holed up in the Canadian embassy the six Americans are on borrowed time. Tony Mendez (Affleck) of the CIA concocts an absurd plan of extracting the six Americans by creating a fake movie, Argo, that needs an exotic location, Iran, to shoot in.
It would have been easy, almost acceptable for Affleck to direct a fast paced action flick of this true American tale. But he doesn’t. Instead he relies on craft to tell the story laid out in the phenomenal script by Chris Terrio. In doing so Affleck takes us to the edge of our seats by investing us in the story and the characters to the point where we in the audience can feel the tension and the anxiety.
Alan Arkin and John Goodman are the Hollywood and the humor side of the crazy plan. They could have played it cliche’ and it would have been totally fine. But they don’t. In spite of their character archetypes we get a true sense that they truly believe and care in mission that they have been charged with even if they engage in it next to a pool in Beverly Hills.
Affleck really shows his passion and skill for directing in Argo. It’s step up from his last movie The Town which is to say that he went from brilliant to extraordinary. I’m on my way back to the theater to catch Argo again for a second time this weekend. I highly recommend that you do the same.