10/10/2012 04:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Argo': Is It Ben Affleck's Best Movie? (And 24 Other Urgent Questions)


On Friday, Argo, one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the year -- and a bona fide Oscar contender -- will get released into a movie theater somewhere near you. Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears) stars as Tony Mendez, a CIA operative who is charged with extracting six Americans trapped in Iran after the American embassy was seized in 1979. As a service, we answer every question that you could possibly have about Argo.

Q: What is an Argo?

A: "Argo" refers to a movie production that will never happen.

Q: Oh, like Ghostbusters 3?

A: Exactly. Only Argo was purposely used by the CIA, which never intended to make it into a movie.

Q: Why would a script be purposely used with the intention of never making a real movie?

A: In 1979, after the American embassy in Iran was stormed -- which led to the Iranian hostage crisis -- six Americans escaped during the mêlée and found refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador to Iran (Victor Garber).

Q: How did these six Americans escape?

A: They worked in the visa department, which happened to be in the only building at the embassy with access to the street. But, because it was too dangerous to stay with the Canadian ambassador, a CIA operative named Tony Mendez (Affleck) engineered a plan to sneak the six Americans out of Iran under the guise of fake Canadian film production. The plan is not met with 100 percent enthusiasm by, well, pretty much anyone else.

Q: A fake Canadian film production?

A: First, remember, this actually happened. The six Americans are given fake identities, ranging from the film's director to the scriptwriter. The identities must be learned in a very short amount of time.

Q: What is the most remarkable thing about Argo?

A: It might not be too surprising, considering how absurd this whole plan is in the first place, but there is a lot of humor in Argo. Mostly from Alan Arkin and John Goodman.

Q: Does Arkin finally play against his well-honed crusty wiseacre type?

A: Of course not, because that's what Arkin does. But it's welcome levity to the otherwise tense proceedings.

Q: What roles do Goodman and Arkin play in this plot to rescue the six Americans?

A: Goodman plays John Chambers, a makeup artist who won an Academy Award for his work on Planet of the Apes. Arkin plays producer Lester Siegel (a composite of three actual producers) whose job is to make Argo appear as if it is actually in production.

Q: Without giving it away, what is the funniest line in Argo?

A: Let's just say it has something to do with how easy it is to teach someone how to direct a movie -- a self-deprecating line, at least from Affleck's perspective.

Q: Does everything in the movie represent how things actually happened in reality?

A: Like pretty much every movie ever, no. If you read the you-must-read-this-if-you-haven't-already Wired story that the movie is based upon, well, there are some differences.

Q: What was the name of the actual script used in the real life mission?

A: Lord of Light, but Mendez changed the title to Argo.

Q: Whose name were you not expecting to see in that Wired article?

A: Ross Perot.

Q: What is the biggest change between the movie and the actual events?

A: Oh, for crying out loud, just see the movie and read the article. You will enjoy both!

Q: Does Argo contain references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica and The Muppets?

A: Yes!

Q: Why are you yelling?

A: Because exclamation points are addicting!!!

Q: How much of that has to do with the fact that Argo contains references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica and The Muppets?

A: Only 4 percent.

Q: Is there a vintage twelve-inch Boba Fett Star Wars action figure seen on display at some point in Argo?

A: Yes.

Q: What would this cost me today if I wanted to purchase one?

A: According to eBay, if you'd like to purchase this action figure with the box that it came in, it would cost $611.01.

Q: Is Argo the best movie of Ben Affleck's career?

A: Somehow, the man who starred in Reindeer Games has become one of the finest directors working today. With Argo (as I wrote about when I was at the Toronto International Film Festival) Affleck has directed his personal masterpiece, which expands upon his fine work with Gone Baby Gone and The Town.

Q: What makes Argo so good?

A: As I'm writing this, I've seen Argo twice and I may have (A) laughed harder and (B) been even more on the edge of my seat the second time that I saw it. The suspense is so well crafted, it has no bearing on knowing the end result of the movie (which you probably know anyway).

Q: At this point, is Argo your favorite movie of the year?

A: It is.

Q: Will Argo be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture?

A: Yes.

Q: Will Ben Affleck be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you repeated the line "Argo fuck yourself" at least once a day since first seeing Argo?

A: Yes.

Q: What is more likely to become a movie: The original script for Lord of Light/Argo or Ghostbusters 3?

A: The original script for Lord of Light/Argo.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

'Argo' Stills