The stars: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Chris Messina, and many others The gist: Affleck directs the fluid, entertaining political thriller during which a group of CIA agents concocts a ruse to free six American hostages from Tehran during the Iranian revolution. The ruse? They’re posing as a Canadian film crew making a movie about a cosmic war called Argo. Lots of feathered hair, oversize spectacles, and Led Zeppelin. The buzz: No one’s said a bad thing about it yet. The flick looks like prime Oscar meat.
The stars: Zac Efron, Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham The gist: The Zefron channels Cole Trickle to play Dean Whipple, a farm boy speed racer with daddy issues. From Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Man Push Cart) comes an American story with great writing, smart direction, and beautiful lighting, even if it is a little corny at times. The buzz: Aside from Lee Daniels’s The Paperboy, we haven’t seen the Z-man in an R-rated flick. He drops the F-bomb, plays with guns, and gets frisky with an older local (Graham) — awkward.
The stars: Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem The gist: A couple falls in love in France and out of love in the States. Similar to The Tree of Life (same concept, same crew), Terrence Malick’s follow-up settles in the windy plains of Oklahoma, where the actors whisper their lines, Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera floats through classic Americana, and Hanan Townshend’s score sets the tone. The buzz: The Texas director was nowhere to be found. But his wife was. And she made a pretty odd statement about 9/11 at the film’s premiere on the tragedy’s eve (Google it).