Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Taylor Schilling, Michael Parks, Victor Garber, Christopher Stanley, Titus Welliver, Chris Messina, Christopher Denham, Rory Cochrane
Release date: October 12

At this point in his career, it's crazy to think that, in the wake of the 2003 bomb Gigli, Ben Affleck was once a Hollywood laughing stock. Thus, he deserves all the credit in the world for reinventing his path and becoming a director, because Affleck's first two assignments behind the camera, Gone Baby Gone and The Town, were both remarkably executed and deservedly successful.

And if early reports are to be trusted, Affleck's newest picture could be the one that earns him his first Best Director nomination. Having screened at the Telluride Film Festival last weekend, Argo is already getting bestowed with heaps of critical praise and awards-season hype . Most importantly for Affleck and Warner Bros., however, it's also being pegged as a real crowd-pleaser, a humorous, tense, and expertly acted thriller ready for mass audience consumption.

In the film, which is based on real events, Affleck stars as a C.I.A. agent who teams with several folks to stage an elaborate and fake Hollywood production to free a group of American captives during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Complete with '70s porn mustaches and unbecoming hairdos, Argo is fully immersed in its period setting, and the actor-director at its helm seems to have paid equal attention to both highbrow critics and thrill-seeking popcorn-eaters. Who's laughing at Ben Affleck now?