Yet, are they genuinely exceptional in the story they are trying to tell? I’ve never truly understood the Oscar buzz around them.
Still, given the Academy’s penchant for leaning towards America saves the rest of the world-esque movies, it’s not surprising. (By the same logic, the Avengers franchise deserves way more awards!)
Just before it was released, I scored an early screening of Argo and was shielded from all the award hype surrounding the movie as soon as it hit the theaters.
Argo tells the story of the daring escape of the members of the US Embassy during the Iran hostage crisis. A CIA led audacious operation helmed by the Intelligence Office Tony Mendez saved many American lives.
Going in, I had no knowledge of Iran’s modern history, and even then, I found the ten seconds intro cringe-worthy.
Did we really need a crash course in Iranian history that can never do justice to the complexities of the political scene?
It’s oversimplification only adds to the confusion and stereotype of the western world’s perception of the Middle East. A smarter director would have set the context without doing a voiceover, which seems like a cheap trick to evade narrative complexities.
The movie is an homage to Tony Mendez and in that goal, it serves its purpose. He did his job, and he did it well, and it was probably not his place to question American foreign policy.
If this was an entirely fictional movie, it would have made an excellent edge-of-the-seat thriller. Unfortunately, it’s not. It retells real events about real people; and therein lies the considerable danger of racial misrepresentation and re-writing history.
For instance, the movie accurately portrays Iran’s anger with the United States but does not adequately explain the cause of the hatred or how many years it had festered.
It does, however, focus on footage of Burkha clad women totting guns and angry mobs trampling the American flag in an Islamic state. It uses imagery to reinforce the narrative that Americans are the good guys and the Arabs are the bad ones. It also neutralizes the role that the Canadian Embassy played in harboring US citizens and effectively saving their lives.
Of course, there is no denying the brilliance of the trick that the CIA pulled off while helping these people escape. Whether such tricks are often played by the CIA on unsuspecting less criminal governments of the world is question for another day.
For instance, during the climax of the film, Iranian guards rush recklessly onto the runway to stop the hostages’ escape. Wouldn’t it have been more logical to have the Air Traffic Control stop the plane?
You know, just saying.
If one can ignore all these nagging elements that pop up in the brain, then Argo is not a bad movie; but does it deserve an Oscar? Really? For a story half-told?