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Argo movie posterBen Affleck directed, produced and starred in the 2012 Best Picture winner, "Argo."
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matt dees headshot
Rating (0-5): 2 of Dees
Really? That’s the best picture of 2012?
I could barely handle Ben Affleck’s terrible acting in the trailer for Argo, so I avoided that film like the Ayatollah to a barbecue sandwich. The rave reviews came as a surprise, the Oscar as a huge shock. So I figured it was time to see what the fuss was about, bracing myself for the new sensation of living in a world where Affleck isn’t terrible. Fortunately, no such adjustments were necessary. This is a fair-to-middling movie with no business even being nominated for Best Picture, let alone winning. Since when is having a competent actor as the lead no longer a prerequisite to being hailed as a Great Movie? I don’t dislike Affleck. His big, dumb face, especially when covered in a '70s-era beard, is reminiscent of a friendly St. Bernard. He missed the boat in not getting cast in Beethoven. Here, he’s overmatched by his fine supporting cast and, seemingly, by the chore of trying to convey human emotion via facial expressions. It’s that same moony look whether he’s drunk in a hotel room, pining for his estranged wife, sweating through an Iranian official’s inspection of his passport or having it out with State Department brass. His acting is so bad it’s almost impressive. The movie is paced well, so it’s possible Affleck’s future as director is bright, if he’ll just quit casting himself. But that seems doubtful now that he’s basking in Oscar glow. If the Academy wanted to honor a period movie, why not go with the dull-yet-skillfully-acted Lincoln? If it wanted a political thriller set in the Middle East, there’s the haunting Zero Dark Thirty (which gets my Best Picture nod, FWIW). What those two films lacked is Hollywood as the savior, the message that movies can change the world, man. Which just proves what a self-congratulatory sham the Academy Awards have become. As if having Peter Griffin host didn’t do that already. TW
Argo is now playing at Southpoint.