“Argo” won an Oscar for best picture last spring. Knowing this, I watched “Argo” with the expectation that it was better than any other movie from 2012. It is not the best movie of 2012, although it is a good movie and it’s Oscar win is understandable.
Once I was at a train museum and I asked one of the volunteers if he has seen the movie “Unstoppable”. He enthusiastically responded, “Only about a dozen times!”. Train enthusiasts like movies about trains. Movie critics who write for a living like movies about writers. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences likes movies about movies. Henceforth, it is understandable why they chose to award “Argo” over “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lincoln”, “Django Unchained”, and “Life of Pi”.
“Argo” is without argument one of the best movies of 2012. The 1979 to 1980 setting is authentically awful. I was just a wee little kid at the time, and I do remember terribly bushy facial hair and gigantic glasses. Sesame Street did not cover the Iranian revolution, but the news segments in “Argo” look real enough. For a historic thriller, authentic history is half the battle. The tension in the movie is also well done, perhaps too well done.
Amazingly, the carefully planned CIA operation was executed only by 4 simultaneous chance events, all occurring in the nick of time. According to Wikipedia, many of the historical looking events in the film are fictional. Well duh. I am getting near middle age, and I have seen just about every trick of suspense ever used. Consider this, Iran’s time zone is about 12 hours ahead of Los Angeles, California, making a couple of last minute phone call very improbable. The credits, though, show an effort on the part of the filmmakers to at least cast actors that looked like their real life counterparts, and this sincerity is rare even in historical thrillers.
Perhaps not the best movie of 2012, “Argo” is a great movie, and its historical setting means it is timeless, and should have a life well beyond this decade. I give it 4 out of 5 bushy mustaches.