Argo

The Nominations:

  • Actor In a Supporting Role
  • Best Picture
  • Film Editing
  • Music (Original Score)
  • Sound Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Black-and-White:

A review by spacedcowboy

Plot synopsis from imdb.com:

In 1979, the American embassy in Iran was invaded by Iranian revolutionaries and several Americans are taken hostage. However, six manage to escape to the official residence of the Canadian Ambassador and the CIA is eventually ordered to get them out of the country. With few options, exfiltration expert Tony Mendez devises a daring plan: to create a phony Canadian film project looking to shoot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. With the help of some trusted Hollywood contacts, Mendez creates the ruse and proceeds to Iran as its associate producer. However, time is running out with the Iranian security forces closing in on the truth while both his charges and the White House have grave doubts about the operation themselves. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

The consensus seems to be that with this film Ben Affleck established his chops as an established film-maker. I do not dispute this. I am a huge fan of The Town – in my mind his breakthrough movie – and he continues it with Argo.

The film occupies a difficult genre – it is not fiction nor is it historical fiction. It is fiction that is  derived from events that happened in history. It does not need to be faithful to actual facts, and yet against the historical facts it will be judged.

This is a difficult path to walk.

I’ll admit that I struggle to know what to say about such movies. In some ways, they are a cheat. They have a story pre-made that resonates with us all; after all the story is based on events that happened in history and, for one reason or another, captivated us all.

On the other hand, these movies, invariably criticized for historical inaccuracies, are stories of fiction. They are not documentaries, nor historical re-enactments. They are supposed to be a fictional tale, and yet they feel like they are not.

I am not sure this sort of movie should be judged among the other fictional stories that are nominated for Best Picture. Like Animated Feature, they are a different sort of tale, with different expectations and different advantages. Having said that, I do not know how one would separate out this sort of tale from the rest…

However, this is the landscape in which we live.

With regards to Argo, it is a compelling tale. I recall the events from my childhood that frame this tale, and it was a harrowing and engrossing. Growing up in Canada, we were all proud of the role that our embassy played in this tale.

Against this background, I’ll admit yet again that I have struggled with this movie. On one hand, I was biased by an article I read in a Canadian news magazine, complaining about how the role the Canadian embassy was marginalized in this film. On the other hand, this is a fictional story, so who cares?

At the end of the day, my thoughts come down to the following:

Argo was a fine story. It was compelling and engrossing and it held me captivated throughout. The acting was well done, with a cast of stellar actors and actresses.

I share my frustration that none of the characters really had an arc in this film, however. While their stories were compelling, they didn’t have a character voyage. They did what they did, and then the film ended. In some ways, this movie reminds me of less compelling stories from years gone by, in which the characters similarly played out a series of events with no character growth, albeit in a way that was less embraceable. I’m channeling No Country for Old Men as an example.

To me, Argo felt like a historical re-enactment. I loved and rooted for all of the protagonists; however, I shared no character voyage with them. They ended this tale as they began, albeit in much less physical danger.

As such, the nods for Best Picture and Writing, although deserved, do not, for me, deserve a win.

Alan Arkin was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, and I agree this is well-deserved. He may well win in this category, which, at time of writing, does not have a favorite for this scribe.

With seven Oscar nods, I am honestly at a loss to predict what it may win. I do not think it is the Best Picture, but on the other hand, it stands admirably against Lincoln.

Argo is a good movie, with cheats around which I cannot understand nor embrace.

Still, well done and a solid movie in a very good year for movies. Go get ’em, Ben. You are on your way to greater things.

 

 

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2 Responses to Argo

  1. […] They said: “Argo” – Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers […]

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