Near the end of Argo, there is an extended moment of tension that puts you side by side with the 6 American hostages caught in Iran. Even though you know how it’ll end, Ben Affleck’s direction on Chris Terrio’s screenplay is a great exercise in well-executed drama and anxiety. The moment is held in a brief light when a few Iranian revolutionary guard are bewildered and amazed by a fake film’s storyboard about alien spaceships. It is a small, but telling moment, a rather fantastic homage to an older time in film making and the sometimes ridiculous nature of Hollywood as a product.
The film has historical inaccuracies so glaring that former President Jimmy Carter had to make a point about it, and there seems to be some sort of stigma to Affleck directing (everyone knows he didn’t DIRECT Daredevil right?), but if I had a vote for Best Picture, I’d give it to Argo.
The film’s competition are your checklist award winners and it may come down to what you’re feeling this year. You could pick the foreign film (Amour), a spiritually charged epic about an Indian Boy (Life Of Pi), a grand ol’ musical (Les Miserables), a Steven Spielberg flick (Lincoln), an unconventional romantic comedy (Silver Linings Playbook), the racially charged (Django Unchained) and the complete mind-evisceration (Beasts Of The Southern Wild). This leaves the two war-themed movies Argo and Zero Dark Thirty.
Hollywood frontrunners have been undecided these past few weeks on just which of these films will inevitably win. Some have said it’ll come down to Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty, which is fair given both of the films merits. But you could really make an argument for all of them.
So why Argo? Because it is a well-crafted statement about a politically important time in history as well as a humorous self-flagellating stab at the ridiculousness of Hollywood itself.
We are to assume that $45,000 gift bags for nominees at an an awards ceremony congratulating themselves is a worthy cause. And it is always a joy to know that somewhere in LA, there is a cast of people whose sole purpose is to make ridiculously rich people even more ridiculously rich. But it is this ridiculousness that has captivated us for so many years. Dialogue in Argo said it best; “So you want to come to Hollywood to become a big shot without doing anything? You’ll fit right in”. Why do you think the film’s events transpired as they did? Because among a myriad of spy-related action and tomfoolery, the Iranian captors were captivated by the nutty premise of a Space-alien saga being filmed in the country.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Hollywood actually does see the ridiculousness of what they all do, have fun with it, reap the rewards and still endear themselves to the public? I know Argo is a serious film, but it still takes a moment to make fun of itself and it’s competition.
Perhaps the Oscar voters aren’t that meta, and Argo probably won’t win. But it should. Why? Because Argo fuck yourself.