It is a credit to Affleck that this film is incredibly compelling, despite knowing the ending before you walk in. After all, it is based on real events. It is also a beautifully balanced ensemble piece. Receiving Best Adapted, Best Supporting (Arkin), and Best Picture nods was nice, but he really should have had a director nomination as well.
The movie evokes the era beautifully, recreating the late 70s completely believably, though perhaps in its focus, missing a bit of the feeling around the country at the time. The Iran hostage situation birthed Nightline and CNN (the 24 hour news cycle was born) and was as seminal an event as 9/11 for how it changed our relationship to the world and it unseated a president. I also couldn’t help noticing that this story wouldn’t be possible today. With the speed of information and cell phones, it would have been impossible to beat the clock in the present. The world has changed immensely in the interceding 32 years, and this movie really makes that clear. It also makes it clear how little other things have changed.
All the history aside, as a film, it takes on the past events in a very personal way that allows you to invest emotionally, not just learn about the actions that were going on behind the scenes. It isn’t a history lesson, it is a story that happens to be true, which lets you know about history. As an overall film, it is one of the better ones nominated this year and very much worth your time.