Following up Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck’s Argo was released with seemingly insurmountable expectations. But the dark, satirical humour, unbearable tension, and outstanding performances by its entire cast is what separated Argo from a pack of dramatized history films in 2012. Argo further cements Ben Affleck as a force both on and off camera. A political thriller that had some tough competition in 2012, all heavily based on historic significance. However, despite this disadvantage, Argo was able to walk away with top honours at the Oscars. Featuring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and a slew of supporting stars, Argo is sound from top to bottom. The retro look and immersive story make Argo glow and full of intensity.
The American embassy in Iran was invaded and lost to Iranian revolutionaries in 1979. Numerous Americans were taken hostage. However, during the carnage and chaos, six managed to escape. The six Americans took refuge at the Canadian Ambassador’s house and stayed, waiting for the CIA to work out a way to bring them home. Tony Mendez (Affleck) with the help of Lester (Arkin) and John (Goodman), devised a plan to extract the six using a fake movie as a cover. The six Americans were to be various crew members and producers from Canada on a location scout. With the revolutionaries slowly beginning to realize Americans missing and the White House getting cold feet, time begins to run out.
Depending more on the source material than making it appeasing. Argo is rewarded for staying true to the past, investing in the audiences tolerance, and choosing intelligence over appearance. In the lead role, Ben Affleck’s work ethic and exterior are impenetrable, exactly what they should be. You’d want someone calm and composed holding your life in their hands. Affleck is immovable and should have earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Cranston and Goodman are equally as impressive in their supporting roles, but are an afterthought to Arkin’s Oscar nominated performance. With its strong cast and durable, yet entrancing script. Argo is proof that quality over quantity is the best policy, deservedly winning best picture.
Argo: 9 out of 10.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
A much more passionate labyrinth and overall refined offering than The Hurt Locker. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal once again delve into the war overseas with Zero Dark Thirty and bring a fact driven theatrical adaptation of the most elaborate manhunt in history to the screen. Using familiar tactics such as tense situations and loveable characters, Boal and Bigelow triumph once again with Zero Dark Thirty. However, setting aside the similarities in the strain and showiness between The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow and Boal insert new facets like intellect and balance to make Zero Dark Thirty more effective, complete and full of intensity. Featuring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, and Chris Pratt. Zero Dark Thirty’s all star cast are layered throughout its multiple story lines and given enough purpose to fulfill their potential.
A CIA operative named Maya (Chastian) is thrust into the war on terror. One of her first experiences is the extraction of information through any means necessary, understanding that this is the extreme needed at times to gain knowledge. Working with her partner Dan (Clarke), Maya quickly learns and adapts to life overseas. Over seven years, Maya is narrowing down her leads in hopes of finding Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. With the help of Joseph (Chandler), George (Strong), and numerous other, in 2011, her tireless efforts are about to pay off. Staying in contact with Patrick (Edgerton), Justin (Pratt), and the Navy team. Maya observes the mission to the suspects home.
While the depth of the material Zero Dark Thirty is based upon is somewhat of a blur to the public eye. The surface of it has been broadcast from a far on every news channel since 9/11. Being able to produce such a definitive and enjoyable piece of cinema from an overseen and collated event years in the making is something Boal, Bigelow, and crew should be proud of. Jessica Chastain is the only actor to earn an Oscar Nomination for her performance in the film and deservedly so, she is incredibly pragmatic. Her natural essence and unrelenting drive fit perfectly into her role. Jason Clarke should have garnered more praise and a nomination in his supporting role to Chastain but was snubbed in my opinion. Clarke is intimidating and ruthless encompassing everything needed to be emotionless and feared. The rest of the supporting cast is equally as impressive, holding nothing back. Zero Dark Thirty is a smart, entertaining nail biter.
Zero Dark Thirty: 9 out of 10.