When Good Will Hunting came out, it was always assumed
that it was Matt Damon who did all the graft, and Ben Affleck was the one who was hanging on to Damon’s brilliance – but now, it is being said, maybe it was the other way round. Argo is an incredibly astute work that has all the hallmarks of a brilliant director, especially one with so little directing experience.
The plot is preposterous – in Iran in 1979, protests have broken out and the US embassy is overthrown by the violent mob, with most of the staff taken hostage, with relations between Iran and America suggesting that these hostages may well be killed. However during the confusion 6 staff escaped and are hidden by the Canadian ambassador in his home. While outside anyone accused of being American is killed on site, inside they wait, hoping not to be discovered. Back on US soil, it is decided to try and sneak them out, with their only possible option being a heavily guarded airport. And so fake Canadian identities are constructed to allow them to sneak safely onto a passenger jet, under the pretence that they are supposed to be location scouts for a Sci-Fi movie. With silly looking aliens and crack-pot nonsense. Called Argo. And most ridiculous of all – it’s based on a true story. It really did happen.
Knowing this changes your entire perspective – farce is replaced with tension, humour with fear, as the covert mission faces obstruction after obstruction – the structure and production of the final quarter of an hour has got to be one the most well conceived and nail biting experiences I’ve had thanks to cinema in years.
Having already won the “movie cast prize”
at the SAG, it is clear that Argo has the potential to win big. It really is a staggering film, and few would argue if it ended up getting the Best Picture nod. But. I don’t think it will. It’s nomination categories aren’t across the board, which suggests, and where they exist there are other nominations that seem stronger in each category. The main award looks set to go to Lincoln, and I would even push Silver Linings Playbook ahead in the queue (yes, it really is that good). Elsewhere, the best supporting actor nomination is a damn dense pack of
leading stars, and there was little truly remarkable about Alan Arkin’s role to suggest the night will be his. Next in line are more technical awards – editing (which I feel Life of Pi must be in with a shout) original music (which is fairly unremarkable, and certainly doesn’t stand out as significant, while up against Skyfall) sound editing and mixing (which equally fail to stand out as significant for Affleck’s film) before finally best Adapted Screenplay. If it has a shout, it could be that – but again, it’s a tough, tough group of nominations, including Life of Pi (filming the impossible) Beasts of the Southern Wild (which is so delightful it makes you want to weep), Lincoln and once again, Silver Linings Playbook. As much as it deserves to do well, I have to say, I don’t think Argo will win anything – despite the fact it is a brilliant piece of cinema.