‘Argo’ and the ‘most political’ Oscar


And Argo is the best movie of the year.

Michelle Obama herself announced the prize for the best picture in the 85h Academy Awards, for certain delight of her husband, an assumed friend of the very ‘wonderful’ George Clooney, who produced the fim along with Ben Affleck (director) and colaborator Grant Heslov.

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Michelle Obama goes to Hollywood (via video) and announces ‘Argo’ as the best picture of 2012

The movie itself narrates the story of an extraction (‘exfiltration’) of six americans who managed to escape from the American embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Mendez (Ben Affleck), the CIA expert, undertakes the mission and manages to create the widespread illusion of a false sci-fi movie in the making called ‘Argo’ to be recorded in Iran.

Mendez takes the flight to Iran all by himself where he meets the six refugees, who pretend to be the remaining of the film’s producing crew, hoping that the Iran authorities will buy the scheme and allow them to leave the country all together in a couple of days.

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Ben Affleck plays officer Mendez, a CIA expert on ‘exfiltrarions’ on hostile territories

Direct bilateral Iran-US relations do not currently exist between the two governments and the Embassy of the United States in Tehran has not been used ever since the hostage crisis.

‘We’ve been through a lot together’, told George Clooney’s voice in 2012, a big supporter and fund raiser for Barrack Obama, during the President campaign.

On May 10, 2012, Clooney held a dinner for Obama at his LA home that brought in a record breaking $15M for the campaign.  Some months later, Clooney made an appearance in Switzerland, raising $625K at a Geneva fundraising convention of the Democrat party’s Swiss branch.

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President Obama receiving a visit from friend George Clooney in the White House

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President Obama side by side with Clooney in a political convention

But more than anything else, Argo’s spotlight points out to the movie’s director Ben Affleck. Affleck has been involved in politics in several ways, notably through the LivePlanet label he created along with Matt Damon in 2000. According to wiki knowledge, the same duo founded a new company called Pearl Street Films in 2012.

Matt Damon himself (who I sincerely admire) is a well-kown democrat but a volatile one as well. He was a very vocal and enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s election at first but some time later he came up with the statement that ‘a one-term president with some balls would have been better’. Nonetheless, he made clear that he voted for Obama’s re-election in November 2012, despite the earlier first-term criticism.

Other actors from the same political circle as Damon and Clooney (you may call it the Danny Ocean’s crew) include Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Don Cheadle.

But what about Ben Affleck may you ask? You should check it out yourself here. Democrat? No doubt: everything’s there, perfect resume. If you ask me, none of the Ocean’s few is even close.

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Can Ben Affleck be on his way to a political career of his own, Ronald Reagan style?

Al Gore 2000? Check, cheerleader. Hillary Clinton endorsement? Check. John Kerry 2004? Check. First row on Bush criticism? Check. Gay marrigage, invisible children and ‘westerners are not and will not and will never be saviors of Africa’? Check. Even some anti-CEO stuff. Come on, and I am a stubborn lefty myself.

Possibly more than any other actor, Ben Affleck could follow the footsteps of Reagan (not literally, you got it) and make it to a promissing political carreer.

Now let’s get back to the 85th Academy Awards, where Michelle Obama personally announced ‘Argo’ as the picture of the year, remembering us how thin the boundaries between politics and entertainment always were.

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Argo’s co-producers (from left to right Ben Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov) receiving the oscar

This recognition, at least on paper, appears to be politically influenced (even if it isn’t, what remains a strong possibility) and the Obama family directly contributed to raise suspections by actively engaging in the celebration.

Strange enough is the fact that ‘Argo’ is the first film to win best picture without a concurrent nomination for best director since 1989. Ang Lee took the prize with the fable ‘Life of Pi’ suggesting that the Academy’s love is not extendable to Ben Affleck as an individual.

As much as I found ‘Argo’ to be fun and entertaining (objectively I did like the movie) I must say I felt disappointed about the unpleasant spectacle when I saw Clooney and Affleck taking the stage, all smiles on their faces, after the Obama’s endorsement. It did look weird, a bit like a political convention.

In favor of Ben Affleck and the others, truth is that his movie is collecting all sort of awards and prizes, as well as good reviews, everywhere.

Said that, I was rooting for Zero Dark Thirty overall, mostly because of its documentary value and apparent ‘leaks’, though I really liked Lincoln.

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