2012 U.S. box office take: $304 million Oscar No. 4. Argo
Studio: Warner Brothers
2012 U.S. box office take: $127 million So Canadian spies and the Central Intelligence Agency's real-life plot to get U.S. diplomats out of Iran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis versus a Jason Bourne-style James Bond once again tangling with supervillains who have their own private islands and armies of assassins. Maybe we can see why the Academy went with the Ben Affleck-directed effort here, though it didn't bother to nominate Affleck for his work behind the cameras. Daniel Craig's James Bond could bag groceries at Tesco for an hour and a half and still bring in $500 million worldwide, so it's not entirely surprising a return to form for the Bond franchise cleared $1 billion easily. While Skyfall's Oscar nominations are limited to sound mixing and editing, Roger Deakins' cinematography, Adele's work on the film's title track and Thomas Newman's score, Argo already earned Affleck some hardware at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards for taking an already tense real-life narrative and executing it on screen with minimal gunfire. Pulling yet another commanding performance out of Alan Arkin didn't hurt, either, but Affleck deserves a whole lot of credit for making a Canadian cover story about scouting out a sci-fi movie set in Iran sound more plausible than Javier Bardem's 21st Century Skyfall cyberterrorist.