In 1979, at the beginning of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, in the waning days of the Jimmy Carter presidency, the American embassy in Tehran was stormed and many Americans were taken hostage. The CIA was ordered to get them out of the country, and agent Tony Mendez devised a daring plan: create a phony film project (“Argo”) to be shot in Iran and smuggle the Americans out as its production crew. More than 30 years later Argo, Ben Affleck’s film about the phony film as an escape device, became the talk of the town and the Golden Globe winner.
As the New York Times wrote, “Hollywood insiders had a field day on Sunday, January 13, 2013, as the 70th Golden Globes turned into a feast of humor aimed at politics and themselves”. Argo won the Globe for Best Motion Picture-Drama and Ben Affleck, for Best Director. Even more of a hit were the jokes by co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. "When it comes to torture, I trust a lady who spent three years married to James Cameron,” quipped Amy Poehler at the beginning of the show, as cameras zoomed in on Kathryn Bigelow sitting in the audience.
Argo got five nominations, winning two Globes: Affleck was the big winner. His film went on to win three Academy Awards (Best Motion Picture, Screenplay, and Editing). The other Golden Globe nominees in the drama category were Lincoln, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained. Jessica Chastain won as best actress for Zero Dark Thirty, Daniel Day-Lewis won the Globe for Lincoln. Alan Arkin was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Argo, but Christoph Waltz won for Django Unchained.
For Affleck, it was the third Golden Globe nomination and his second win (after Best Screenwriter for Good Will Hunting in 1997, which he shared with pal Matt Damon). Julia Roberts presented Best Film to Argo at the Globes, Grant Heslov accepted the award, saying, “I want to thank all the thousands of people who work in the diplomatic services and put their lives on the line every week.”
Argo was filmed in California and Istanbul (Turkey), doubling for Tehran, Iran. Affleck stated that the production was granted unprecedented access to C.I.A. Headquarters, both for interiors and exteriors, and that privilege was owed to Tony Mendez, the retired C.I.A. officer portrayed by Affleck in the film.
Critic Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote: "Affleck's shameless direction catapults him to the forefront of Hollywood filmmakers."