In celebration of the new edition of the list coming out, let’s start off with one of the new 2012 films added to the list.
I figured the most recent Best Picture winner stood a good chance of making the list, so this review comes courtesy of back in March. Argo is notable for being the third film for actor-turned-director Ben Affleck, his first two being Gone Baby Gone and The Town, both of which got pretty nice reviews. While some may still look down on Affleck’s acting career after such choices as Gigli and Daredevil, Argo firmly cements his newfound and well deserved comeback reputation as one of Hollywood’s premier entertainment directors. This film is pretty much a point-by-point sell on what Affleck has to offer as a director, and if this film is anything to go by, he’s got a hell of a lot to put on the table.
For those who don’t know the story, the film details the true, but classified until about 15 years ago, story of a group of six Americans who flee the American embassy in Iran amidst anti-American riots, and hide out in the home of the Canadian ambassador. The story isn’t really about these Americans, though the film does cut to them a few times to gain a perspective on their situation, but rather on the efforts of one CIA agent, played by Affleck, to get them out of the country safely. He hits upon the idea of setting up a fake movie in Hollywood, titled Argo, and sets up press readings and storyboards so that the film is all but genuine; then, he will go to Iran as a location scout for the film, and pick up the six Americans who will be given identities as members of the film crew in order to smuggle them out. It’s a great story, all the more so because it’s true, but since it is based on a true story, some of you may already know how this ends, and even if you don’t, if you know any typical Hollywood endings, you know how this ends anyway. What really keeps the film as spellbinding as it is is the masterful editing work, and this is another film that I completely agree with the Academy’s decision to award this the Best Editing Oscar; not a frame is out of place, and everything coalesces into a very taut, suspenseful thriller that, while quite predictable and conventional in more than enough places, still somehow manages to keep us on the edge of our seats.
Many poked fun at the fact that Hollywood essentially gave the Best Picture Oscar to a film that portrayed Hollywood as the hero, which is rather humorous when you think about it. But, having not seen all of the other nominees, I can’t pass judgment on whether or not Argo deserved the win. I’m sure part of it was a gift to Affleck for his perceived slight at not getting what would have been an almost certain win for Best Director, and indeed this snub will be hard for the Academy to live down in the next few years, but I guess I can be alright with the Academy’s decision to give this one the big win. I’m still not convinced it did enough to warrant it, especially given the rather strong year that 2012 was for films, but Argo is unquestionably the most accessible, and very likely the most readily entertaining of the nine nominees, so for that, again, I’m fine with it taking home the big prize.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10