Frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar now?  Well, definitely not for Best Director (argument for another day).  Anyway, Ben Affleck’s latest (and best) effort has all the ingredients: ‘based on a true story’, top notch supporting cast, a little bit of Hollywood making fun of itself…all the pieces are there.

The story itself is one of those ‘too good to be true/sounds made up’ deals: a CIA operative sneaks a group of Americans out of Iran under the guise of being in preproduction for a big budget ‘Star Wars’ rip off.  In a lot of ways, Argo is the grandchild of a lot of 70s classics: All the President’s Men, Serpico, Three Days of the Condor.  Even before I did the research, my gut told me Clooney had to have his hands on this somehow.  Wasn’t remotely surprised to learn he was one of the producers.

Connections aside though, Argo is a good film.  My personal ‘test’ for any movie based on something that really happened comes down to one question: do I still feel the dramatic tension even if I know how the story ends?  In my opinion, this is where Affleck the director made the film.  The third act (the escape) is paced really well; the threat of the protagonists getting caught is there for as long as humanly possible.

So at this point it looks like this film or Lincoln gets the big piece of chicken this year.  I’ll have my prediction when we get a little closer to the actual ceremony…

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