'Argo,' you had me at hello

February 17, 2013|Bill Kohler

Dear members of the Academy,

I am writing today because I just emailed my vote for best movie of the year and I hope you will join me in supporting “Argo” as the winner.

For years, you have picked some of the most boring movies ever — “The King’s Speech,” anyone? — and here is a chance for you to right nearly a century’s worth of wrongs.

I know we have one week to go before the red carpet is rolled out and the Guccis and Carolina Herreras are covering the stars, but work with me here.

Before we begin, allow me to say I have had more opinions in the animated category than in the live-action movies. My best actors and actresses have been Buzz, Woody, Rapunzel and Nemo. My best directors have been Pixar geniuses like Brad Bird and John Lasseter.


You get the picture.

But I still watch movies at home like many of us with kids and a decreased entertainment budget.
However, a few weeks ago, during a rare moment of freedom, I escaped to Hagerstown Cinema 10, grabbed some popcorn and water (men of a certain age have to keep better track of our concession consumption, you know) and settled in for one of life’s better distractions — a matinee movie.

For about the same price as a value meal, I was able to consume one of the tastiest grown-up treats I’ve had since “Titanic” sailed through the multiplexes in the early 1990s.

“Argo” tells the tale of brave CIA agent Tony Mendez — who lives in Washington County, BTW — who comes up with a risky plan to spring six Americans stranded in the Canadian ambassador’s embassy during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

“Argo” had it all: Good acting, stellar directing by my old buddy Ben Affleck, an interesting plot, an incredible script, a great pace and a bit of nostalgia. The casting was Oscar-worthy on its own, and the clothes! Yes, I was a teenager at the time, and Affleck and his people nailed it. I wore some of those clothes. My father wore those jackets and ties.

The movie also blended in some humor throughout what was a very intense time in our country, especially for the men and women and their families who lived through the harrowing days of capture.

But lots of movies have good acting and steady directing. Here’s what makes a good film better than the rest: It had me from beginning to end.

It didn’t drag, didn’t lose the audience with unnecessary subplots, and jumped back and forth with ease and smooth transition.

And the icing on the cake: For the first time that I can remember, a movie had me literally on the edge of my seat.

And I even knew how it turned out in the end.

That’s the way movies should be.

So, please give “Argo” the nod next Sunday night.


Matt Damon

P.S. Dear reader: I don’t usually write about entertainment in this column, but I enjoyed the movie so much that I just had to share. I have never been good at sharing, but it was one my new year’s resolutions. See, there’s hope for me yet.

P.S.S. One more thing to share: “Argo” is available on DVD Tuesday and in Redbox on March 19. Rent or buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. Reach him at 301-791-7281 or at

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