Ben Affleck’s political thriller ‘Argo’ built on its strong reviews at Telluride with a standing ovation following its screening at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday (September 7, 2012). Laced with Canadian references, it’s difficult to establish whether ‘Argo’ is a genuine awards season contender, or if the local Toronto crowd just got, well, overexcited.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there were “plenty of self-respecting Canadians” who cheered loudly and often throughout the Friday screening of Argo, which tells the story of six State Department employees who escaped the U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran in 1979 by taking refuse with the Canadian ambassador. Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a CIA agent who devises a plan to rescue them by pretending he’s a member of a Canadian movie crew scouting desert locations. The actor and screenwriter spent around 15 minutes introducing the movie to the Toronto crowd, and his co-star Rory Cochrane talked up the star’s awards chances, saying, “He’s definitely in play for a director Oscar…Ben’s someone I think Hollywood really likes to see succeed. It’s a great story”. As the ‘Argo’ after-party began, heavyweight producer Harvey Weinstein personally stopped by to extend his well wishes to the team. His company is behind Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master’, a clear Oscar-contender and a movie that Affleck will have to topple should he wish to take home either a Golden Globe or an Oscar next year.
Following its opening in Toronto, Stan James bookmakers have slashed ‘Argo’s’ odds to win Best Picture at the Oscars to 5/1. ‘The Master’ is available at 6/1.