“Argo” — Early Oscar Contender???

When people see shows in Las Vegas, some of the ones that come to mind are legendary singers, female impersonators, hot “Magic Mike” dancers, skinny women with big boobs shaking their bon bons, magic shows, and comedy shows.

Sitting in a movie theater probably isn’t one of the shows that you thought about when I brought up the topic.  But, that is what Ray and I did Sunday.  Director/actor Ben Affleck’s latest thriller, “Argo” opened nationwide this past Friday.

I’ve been very excited about this movie since I first saw the trailer months ago.  While I was only 15-years-old back in November, 1979 when the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, was overtaken and 52 Americans were taken hostage, I remember it very well.  I also know that the 444 day hostage situation, along with the faltering economy, doomed President Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign.

That historical event plays into the storyline of “Argo”, however, the main emphasis of the movie focuses on the six Americans that escaped when the embassy was seized.  They hid out in the home of the Canadian ambassador.

It was up the United States government to figure out how to go into Iran and rescue the six Americans before they were discovered and killed.

So, CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with a bold plan.  He went to Tinseltown to recruit a make-up artist that has worked with the government in the past (John Goodman) and a successful director (Alan Arkin).  They would pretend to be producing a Hollywood science-fiction movie, “Argo” that would be taking place on another planet and they wanted to use Iran as the set for the movies.

But, would this bizarre operation work and if the Iranian government allowed the crew to film in the country, would it go off without anyone getting caught and killed?

The aforementioned actors, Goodman and Arkin are so convincing and funny as the Hollywood types.  It was probably so much fun to lampoon the industry and people that they have both seen throughout the years acting.

Affleck was convincing as brooding agent with a crumbling marriage and the lives of six Americans and his own at stake.  And, while it shouldn’t have anything to do with the movie’s success, he was so hot with that 1970s shaggy hair.

All of the sets and costumes were very vintage ’70s and I felt like I was living through the whole hostage turmoil again.  The movie was suspenseful enough and you were rooting for all of them to get home safely.  However, it was sad that President Carter did not get any credit for the safe return of the 52 hostages during his presidency.

While the movie states that this was a potentially deadly situation if the Iranians found out that six people escaped, I wish that “Argo” had showed us more of the violence and sentiment toward the West and Americans without glorifying it.  Otherwise, the movie was very successful at telling its story and was very enjoyable as a thriller.

Critics are already raving that “Argo” is an early favorite for the upcoming award season.  After seeing it, I think that Ben Affleck will earn a Best Director nomination that many felt he deserved for 2010’s “The Town.”

GRADE: A-

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