Oscar 2013: Best Picture Nominee – Argo

 

Brian Lloyd heads up a secret operation to promote ‘Argo’ as part of our Oscar 2013 Best Film countdown…

 

Ben Affleck is enjoying a hot-streak right now. But it’s anything but undeserved. It’s true, not ten years ago, you would have laughed to think his film about American hostages in Iran would do serious business at the box-office and enjoy critical accolades all round. And yet, here we are. For those who have been living under a rock, Argo tells the story of a daring CIA operation to rescue American hostages from Iran during the Ayatollah Khomenei’s rise to power. How did they get them out? By posing as a film crew. With a fantastic cast, made up of Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Chris Messina and led by Ben Affleck, Argo is a taut political thriller that doubles as a heist movie in reverse. Ben Affleck’s stunning direction, knowing nods to 70’s filmmaking and overall style works wonders with a somewhat lacklustre script. As well as being a serious Oscar contender, Argo also works on its own merits. It’s nailbiting stuff, with real tense moments – particularly the final sequence at the airport where (spoiler alert) they’re remanded in custody by the security forces.

 

What with Daniel Day-Lewis pretty much being a safe bet for Best Actor, it’s fair to say it’s a two-horse race for Best Film between Lincoln and Argo. It’s a far more enjoyable film than Lincoln – which often feels like a laboured history lesson. Argo manages to add Hollywood flourishes without being unseemly. As well, the double-act of Alan Arkin and John Goodman act as a comedic pressure release. Everything about Argo oozes quality, from the fantastic cinematography and 70s colour processing to the period detail littered throughout the film. It’s highly reminiscent of Alan J. Pakula thrillers like The Parallax View and All The President’s Men and, undoubtedly, Affleck used them as touchstones during the production.

 

Brian Lloyd
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