Argo Picks Up Momentum

Oscar handicappers are calling Argo the best bet to win the Academy Award since it captured Best Picture at the SAG Awards:

As the last cup is drained at the SAGs, and a big awards weekend comes to a close, "Argo" emerges as a stronger frontrunner than even Affleck imagined, given his stunned walk up to the stage with his joyous ensemble.

That makes three times now Argo has beaten the field — at the Golden Globes, and the Producers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Which also means it’s time for haters to get busy, right? Like Slate’s Kevin B. Lee who says the emperor has no clothes:

Now that Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage drama Argo has garnered seven Oscar nominations to add to its mantle, upon which already sit $110 million in domestic box office, near unanimous acclaim from critics, and even a whisper campaign for Affleck to run for John Kerry’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat, it needs to be said: Argo is a fraud.

Lee tells in detail why Argo is offensive to Iranians, historians and, undoubtedly, Iranian historians. Then Lee goes straight for the film’s Hollywood jugular —

Argo is ostensibly about how a fake movie saves lives, and thus about the redemptive power of movies at large. But since it’s about a fake movie, it’s not really about moviemaking—it’s about the power of Hollywood bullshit. Instead of a real filmmaker, we get Alan Arkin’s wise-guy hack producer dispensing chestnuts over how to create hype and attention to make it seem like a film is important— lessons Argo’s promoters no doubt took to heart.

I don’t share many of Lee’s objections to the movie that are principally complaints about what American popular culture is willing to accept. They are not problems with Argo taken on its own merits.

But I do wonder why my personal favorite, Lincoln, is losing to Argo, which I truly enjoyed though don’t feel it is in the same league as Spielberg’s project. Lee’s comments about Hollywood reinforce my suspicions that the movie industry is really congratulating itself with these Best Picture awards.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

6 thoughts on “Argo Picks Up Momentum

  1. It’s not necessarily being a hater to point out when a film has taken huge liberties with the facts yet presents itself as factual. I haven’t seen Argo yet and I’m looking forward to it and expect to be thoroughly entertained…but I’m glad to know in advance about its factual errors. One point of interest to genre fans is that Argo has invented a totally fictitious origin for the fictitious movie, throwing out the real-life science fiction and comic book connections. In reality, the movie was a serious effort to adapt Zelazny’s Lord of Light, and the production was designed by comics legend Jack Kirby. This article provides relevant links:

    The documentary film Science Fiction Land should have a lot of good stuff in it. I’m not connected with the production in any way, but I’m hoping the widespread acclaim for Argo may spark interest in the true story behind the film.

  2. All good points and if you run a search for Argo or Zelazny on File 770 I think you’ll find we’ve taken a strong interest since they were brought to our attention.

  3. Surely the most fantastic film of the year, aside from mere hobbitoids, is Life of Pi–yet we see little of it here.

  4. I remember that there were some complaints last year about “Hugo”doing so well with awards. I enjoyed the movie immensely, but like many people recognized the story was lightweight polyanna, full of improbabilities and mainly appealing to the audience’s love of eye-candy. It was hard not to suspect that it did well in the awards mainly because “Hugo” was an *homage* to film rather than the *best* film

  5. “Lee’s comments about Hollywood reinforce my suspicions that the movie industry is really congratulating itself with these Best Picture awards.”

    It’s a general phenomenon with any kind of award that a work which plays to the insiders who vote for it will have an advantage. Like how, um, say, a book about a person who loves to read sf might do really well in the Best Novel category of major sf awards.

  6. I like your thinking. The satirist in me is tempted to offer an additional example of this tendency to love what we identify with — the novel Slan, for as we all know, “fans are….”

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