The year is 1979. The American embassy in Iran is being stormed and taken over by Iranian radicals who resent that the US is giving the ousted Shah of Iran sanctuary. The radical Iranians, who support the Ayatollah Khomeini, capture 52 Americans. In the midst of the chaos, six Americans escape and the Canadian ambassador hides them at his residence.

To get them out, Ben Affleck’s character hatches a plan to make a space fantasy movie, Argo, a la Star Wars, while issuing the fugitives Canadian passports, and helping them escape.

The fake movie Argo will never actually be made, but it serves as a cover for the motley crew of US citizens. The morass of Hollywood is spoofed, and there is great fun and many humorous moments as a make-up artist, played by John Goodman, and a film producer, Alan Arkin, set up the appearance of an actually movie that is in production. They even go so far as to host a script reading by actors at the Beverly Hilton. The comedic moments serve as a momentary rest from the tension and drama as the audience hopes, but is unsure, whether the plan will succeed.

This is a true story which was kept secret by the CIA for eighteen years, and in my mind, this is the best film of the year so far. I predict it will be a front runner for Best Picture in the Golden Globe and Oscar season. Despite Hollywood’s penchant for happy endings, I was unsure how the story was going to turn out, and I found myself nervously shifting in my seat, completely mesmerized by the story. It would have been tempting to slap-dash together and toss off a thriller without the depth and richness of Argo, but director Ben Affleck is not satisfied with taking the easy way out.

Despite the many years fraught with conflicts in the Middle East, I don’t believe the average American truly cares much about what is going on abroad. This movie will make you care for the safety of the characters, and may even inspire interest in understanding how tension in the Middle East affects everyone.

Look for Argo as one of the films to watch this award season.

Advertisements