85th annual Academy AwardsLast weekend, more than 40 million viewers watched as Ben Affleck’s “Argo” took home the Academy Award for best picture of the year. Having watched the movie earlier this week, I have to say that it definitely deserved all of the praise it received.
“Argo” is a suspenseful thriller filled with emotion, tension, and historical accuracy. On top of all this, the movie celebrates the achievement of a real-life CIA agent who rescued six Americans from one of the most hostile places on Earth without firing a single shot.
While the explosive Hollywood action set pieces that most moviegoers expect these days were absent from “Argo,” I think that this movie stands out as a prime example of how good a film can be without fancy special effects, fight scenes and giant explosions every five seconds. Even at a full two hours, “Argo” is a tense (and surprisingly funny at times) movie that zips by in what feels like 45 minutes.
So did “Argo” deserve the title of best movie of the year for 2012? Absolutely. “Argo” had some stiff competition from movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” but none of the nominees managed to capture the intensity of Affleck’s love letter to real life hero Tony Mendes and the others who made this rescue mission possible.
In case you don’t know much about the history behind the film, here’s a brief summary: In 1979, 52 Americans were taken hostage at the American embassy in Tehran during the Iranian Revolution. During the confusion, six American embassy workers managed to sneak away and took refuge at the Canadian embassy. “Argo” is the recently declassified story of CIA agent Tony Mendes’ brilliant plot to rescue the six refugees before their disappearance is discovered by the revolutionaries.
The movie has taken some flak for focusing specifically on the six refugees and by not putting enough focus on the 52 other hostages at the US embassy, who undoubtedly were put through a much more harrowing experience than the six American houseguests.
I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the hostage crisis as a backdrop for the action. In no way did this movie play down the seriousness of the hostage crisis in order to make the rescue mission seem more spectacular — Affleck did a great job of emphasizing the seriousness of the hostage situation without veering too far from the specific story he was trying to tell.
So, even if you’re like me and didn’t have much background information on the Iranian hostage crisis, I definitely recommend watching this movie.
In hindsight, I actually wish I did know a little more about the Iranian Revolution before watching the movie, because I think the tension would have been even greater.
So definitely make sure you check out “Argo” — but before you do, take a few minutes to learn about the real-life incident that inspired the story. It’ll make you appreciate 2012’s best picture of the year even more.


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