Since Ben Affleck’s “Argo” began making the rounds at the Telluride, Toronto and San Sebastian Film festivals, the political thriller has earned critical raves. As a result, Affleck’s name is circulating as a top candidate for the 2013 Best Director Oscar.
“Somehow, the man who starred in ‘Reindeer Games’ has become one of the finest directors working today,” said Mike Ryan of the Huffington Post, following the film’s debut at the Toronto Film Festival. “With ‘Argo,’ Affleck has directed his personal masterpiece, which expands upon his fine work with ‘Gone Baby Gone’ and ‘The Town.’”
Set during the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran, “Argo” focuses on the CIA’s attempt to rescue six Americans by disguising them as a Canadian film crew and leading them out of the country.
Affleck brilliantly conveys the bitter tension between Iran and the U.S. through the use of imagery inspired by actual photographs and news footage. He also manages to find a balance between the film’s grave subject matter and the absurdity of the rescue mission -- which is undoubtedly comical.
“This is the kind of filmmaking that elevates suspense to a perception -- of how a single frothing spasm of confrontation changed the relationship between America and the increasingly radicalized Muslim world,” Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Glieberman said in a review of the film. “Having proved, with ‘The Town,’ that he's a crackerjack director, Affleck now ups his game, applying a wizardly finesse to one of the darkest chapters of recent American history.”
Recently dubbed “one of the best directors of his generation” by the Hollywood Reporter, Affleck is set to reach the conclusion of his lengthy redemption period. Since his career began to wane in 2003, he has been somewhat of a pop-culture punching bag.
Luckily for J. Lo’s ex, Hollywood loves a comeback -- and Affleck has been steadily working toward his since 2006, when he portrayed doomed “Superman” star George Reeves in “Hollywoodland.”
His directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” about the search for a missing young girl in Boston, showed his tremendous potential as a director and earned Amy Ryan an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
His next effort, 2010’s “The Town,” was a considerable improvement. Based on Chuck Hogan’s novel “The Prince of Thieves,” the critically lauded heist drama proved to be a box office success, and Jeremy Renner received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for the film.
Based on the Oscar buzz surrounding Alan Arkin's and John Goodman’s performances in “Argo,” it’s clear that Affleck has a knack for getting great performances from his actors -- which only amplifies his chances of becoming an Oscar-winning director.
So will Affleck, who earned an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting,” take home the coveted Best Director statue? Find out during the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 25, 2013.
“Argo” hits theaters on Oct. 12.