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AP critics pick the year’s best movies

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This image released by Warner Bros shows Alan Arkin, left, and actor-director Ben Affleck on the set of "Argo." Affleck was nominated Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 for a Golden Globe for best director for the film. The 70th annual Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan. 13. AP Photo/Warner Bros., Claire Folger

“Argo” — Directing just his third feature, Ben Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humor to provide context and levity. He shows a deft handling of tone, especially in making difficult transitions between scenes in Tehran, Washington and Hollywood, but also gives one of his strongest performances yet in front of the camera. The story of a rescue during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis sounds like eat-your-vegetables cinema, and mixing it with an inside-Hollywood comedy sounds impossible, but Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio pull it all off.

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