ARGO makes the list with the likes of Chariots Of Fire, Chicago and Forrest Gump in that it scooped the Oscar for Best Picture of its year over more deserving competition. It’s better than those three, but has little staying power beyond the 120 minutes of running time. The 2012 caper also took the statues for Screenplay and Film Editing, and was nominated for Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Music, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Reviews rated it highly, and it ended up grossing $232,000,000 to offset its baseline of $44,500,000.
Sharply directed by Ben Affleck, who stars as well, it’s the true-ish story of an outlandish CIA scheme to rescue six men trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. A bogus movie production (of the mythical title film) is the bait to hoodwink Iran’s Revolutionary Guards long enough for faked-identity infiltrators to whisk away the hidden Westerners. It’s frequently tense, often amusing and assuredly well acted, but it has a lingering aftertaste of bash-Iran propaganda disguised as slick entertainment and movie industry self-back-patting.
Rife with historical inaccuracies to hype the danger factor, its best sequence is an atmospheric pursuit through a bazaar (Istanbul conveniently substituted for Tehran, our ‘friend’ Turkey rather more amenable for use as a locale than it was to the makers of Midnight Express). The gin-it-up finale, with cars chasing a jet down the runway, may be okay as rah-rah movie fiction, but it not only didn’t happen, if you pause for a second and consider the relative speeds—it couldn’t. Hooray for C.I.A.hood!
With Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Kerry Bishe, Rory Cochrane, Victor Garber, Sheila Vand, Kyle Chandler, Philip Baker Hall, Bob Gunton, Richard Kind and Michael Parks.