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The Case for: Argo

I’m not going to talk about whether Argo will or won’t. I’m only going to talk about how good it is and what a successful film it’s been this year.

We’re used to Oscar years where most of the movies aren’t all that. Occasionally there will be an overwhelming array of greatness, as there was, to my mind, in 2010 with The Social Network, Black Swan and Inception, to name just three. But no one probably counted so many great films crowding into the race as they have this year. Beast of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom were two early favorites that might have had a better edge if this year hadn’t delivered so many good eggs. It’s easy, then, to have forgotten about Ben Affleck’s Argo. Many now believe that Kathryn Bigelow’s just delivered the Argo killer in Zero Dark Thirty, which is a much more serious look at a more recent, still white hot time in our history. Both films are so crushingly good it’s beyond comprehension that they would join a year that also delivered Lincoln, Amour, The Dark Knight Rises, and Life of Pi – even the so-so movies are better than they usually are, like Cloud Atlas. Many also believe that Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook are exceptional works by vital directors. Still, there is still a case to be made for Argo.

One of the best screenplays by a long, long way is Chris Terrio’s walnut-tight script with zingers throughout, alternating between funny, suspenseful and moving all at once. But coming off of two movies that were underrated, I think, Affleck has hit it out of the park with the crowdpleasing Argo. Admittedly, it was easier to praise it without the other late-breaking films stealing attention but once the smoke clears Argo will be well remembered.

Why is it good? Its funny. But more than that, it has you on the edge of your seat during the hostage break. Zero Dark Thirty, of course, has the Bin Laden raid which is so heavy and hard core you can’t come up for air. But Affleck wasn’t going for heavy this time (as he already went there with Gone Baby Gone) – he was just trying to make a good fucking movie and he managed to do just that.

Only two films, believe it or not have passed through the critics and the box office with flying colors, three if you add Silver Linings which had a pretty good weekend. Argo has

From Boxofficemojo:

(click to view chart)
Rank Weekend
Theaters Change / Avg. Gross-to-Date Week
Oct 12–14 2 $19,458,109 3,232 $6,020 $19,458,109 1
Oct 19–21 2 $16,445,475 -15.5% 3,247 +15 $5,065 $43,011,964 2
Oct 26–28 1 $12,085,059 -26.5% 2,855 -392 $4,233 $60,510,347 3
Nov 2–4 3 $10,209,103 -15.5% 2,774 -81 $3,680 $75,860,240 4
Nov 9–11 4 $6,617,229 -35.2% 2,763 -11 $2,395 $85,583,187 5
Nov 16–18 6 $4,046,366 -38.9% 2,210 -553 $1,831 $91,998,846 6
Nov 23–25 10 $3,875,000
-4.2% 1,255 -955 $3,088 $98,114,000
That’s almost $100 million in just seven weeks.  The only other movie that has been doing as well at the box office is Lincoln, which has blown the lid off the joint.  
What does that make Argo? A good fucking movie. It will be Affleck’s second $100 million dollar baby. Because it came out earlier its sexiness has faded somewhat. Affleck may not be the current flavor of the month. But when you get down to it, his film will enter the race as one of the least divisive, right alongside Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln.  Those three are your general audience crowdpleasers.
Will it or won’t it? That means, earn enough number one votes to get it on the Best Picture ballot? We know that you need a certain number to make it to the second round. There is some sort of math that says it needs 5% of the vote to get in. Given the box office for it, and the critics reviews, and the large cast – I think there’s a good chance that, yes, it will be nominated for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Editing off the bat. But possibly Sound and Sound Editing. I think it will win Editing.
So here’s to hoping voters remember one of the Ms. Rights in a season of Miss Right Nows.