EXCLUSIVE: Appearing on several year-end ten best lists and nominated for 5 Golden Globes, 2 SAG and 7 Critics Choice Movie Awards, Ben Affleck’s Argo is clearly one to watch when Oscar nominations are announced on January 10th. The story, set during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, tells of a top secret CIA mission to rescue six Americans hiding out in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran by passing them off as crew members of a fake Hollywood movie production. The effort was successful and the mission was declassified in 1997 finally allowing all the key players to talk about it for the first time. Producer/Director Affleck stars as Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who hatched the wild scheme. In this exclusive featurette Mendez and the six “house guests” as they were known, along with the actors who portray them, detail the extraordinary rescue and the movie version that has now earned over $100 million at the box office, with a major re-release reportedly planned by Warner Bros shortly after Oscar nominations are announced. The critically acclaimed October release ironically finds itself competing for Academy attention against another major studio film about a high profile CIA mission set in the Mideast, Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty which, though winning wide acclaim along with several Best Picture honors from critics groups and showing box office power in its initial limited release, has become a controversial political football and denounced by key Senators and the acting head of the CIA for what they claim is playing with the truth. Because the hunt for Osama bin Laden is still classified and top secret, most of the real people depicted in that film can’t talk or even have their actual idenities revealed. In the battle for credibility, always an issue with fact-based movie versions, this gives Argo a distinct advantage in having the real people involved available to tell their story and directly validate the movie, precisely the point of this featurette.
Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.