I’m a little late, but just had the opportunity to watch, Argo the movie that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year. After Ben Affleck - the writer, director, producer and star of the movie - was snubbed in the Best Director category, I suspected the only reason the movie won Best Picture was a backlash, rewarding him in another category. So for me, the question was: Did Argo deserve Best Picture when it was up against Lincoln and Life of Pi. Now that I have watched the movie, twice, I can very confidently say no, it did not deserve to win Best Picture. Third would have been more accurate in that category. If you look at the cast on IMDB, it looks like Affleck and the other producer, George Clooney hired just about every actor in Hollywood to be in the movie. Good for them. But besides the backlash of the snub on the director nomination, those numbers must have helped the vote.
This isn’t to say Argo isn’t a good movie, because it is a very good movie. It somewhat covers the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979-81 to the point where it should inspire those who see the movie to actually look up the history behind it to find out what really happened. Movies will never be the best source for history, but if they are done well, they should motivate the viewers to research that piece of history to learn more about it. Lincoln is a movie that is one of the better historical movies I have ever seen, using the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, to try and present a realistic view of President Lincoln. Having read the book, I was very impressed with the facts presented in the movie and it supported my understanding of Lincoln, as Kearns Goodwin detailed in the book.
The movie Lincoln is an epic that will be watched over and over again for both the history it presents as well as the great story and acting. Life of Pi is a movie that affected more movie-goers than any other movie I can ever remember, listening to comments as well as seeing statements made on social media sites. They were both incredibly special movies.
Ben Affleck did a remarkable job on Argo. As producer, co-writer, director and star, it’s amazing he was able to deliver such a great movie. With the story and suspense he delivered, he should have been up for Best Director. But even more, he should have been presented with an award for the "Greatest Irony in Hollywood History." Argo is filled with satire, taking shots at Hollywood and the U.S. government. Yet, Hollywood, the industry he bashed, gave him the biggest prize. If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.
Besides the play on words with the movie title "Argo FU," there are lines and scenes in this movie that are instant classics:
In one scene, Affleck who plays CIA Technical Operations Officer Tony Mendez, is trying to get a fake movie produced and he approaches John Goodman, his Hollywood contact who plays a science fiction special effects expert. He asks Goodman for his help and Goodwin says, "If you are going to try and make a 20 million dollar Star Wars ripoff, you need somebody whose a somebody to put their name on it. You need somebody respectable...with credits...who you can trust with classified information...who will produce a fake movie...for free."
That somebody turns out to be Alan Arkin, playing Lester Seigel, a movie producer who had gained some notoriety in Hollywood. Arkins explains how Hollywood is filled with liars. He says how he is divorced with two daughters and he is a bad father. Affleck asks, “Why is that?” And Arkin says, “It’s a bullshit business. It’s like being in the coal-mining business. When you come home to your wife and kids, you can’t really wash it off.”
When Arkin and Affleck go to see a well-known Hollywood science fiction producer played by Richard Kind, to convince him to work with them on the production, Kind says to Arkin, “I took this meeting out of respect because I wanted to say no to your face.” Arkin replies, “Thank you, very respectful.” Kind, “You’re finished Lester. Get your cataracts fixed.”
When Affleck is talking to Arkin about producing the movie, Arkin says, “Look, if I’m going to produce a fake movie, I want to be a fake hit."
Affleck and Bryan Cranston, who plays Affleck's boss, go into meet with CIA Director Stansfield Turner, played by Philip Baker Hall (library cop from Seinfeld). They are asking for his approval on their plan to make a fake movie in order to get the six Americans hiding at the Canadian Embassy in Iran out of the country. Explaining why they are presenting such a crazy idea, Affleck says, "There are only bad options. It's about trying to find the best one." The CIA Director asks, "You don't have a better bad idea than this?" And Cranston says with a straight face, "This is the best bad idea we have sir, by far."
The movie is filled with satire like this, which makes it a film to watch over and over again. I know I’ll tune in any time it is being shown on AMC or one of the other movie channels in the near future.
I am happy for Ben Affleck and hope he is allowed to continue making movies like Argo.
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