I've never been much of a fan of Ben Affleck as an actor, but I'll take all he can give as a director after seeing his new thriller, Argo, which details the rescue of six Americans with the help of the Canadian Embassy during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1980.

And I'll backtrack a bit and actually compliment Affleck on his fine performance as Tony Mendez, a CIA technical operations officer, who poses as film producer Kevin Harkins  to orchestrate the promotion and publicity of a fake movie that will be partially "shot on location" in Iran.

After all ideas are dismissed as terrible, Mendez comes up with the phony movie idea after watching a scene from Battle for the Planet of the Apes on television and realizes that desert locations the world over are often used to double for remote planets in sci-fi flicks.

Naturally, his agency colleagues dismiss the idea as ludicrous. And, let's face it, it is. But as Mendez's supervisor Jack O'Donnell--played by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston--tells the Secretary of State, "This is the best bad idea we have, sir. By far." And Operation Argo is put into action.

Argo, by the way, is the name they come up with for the movie. And when asked why that's the title, producer Lester Siegel--played by Alan Arkin--always gives a response that's both hilarious and extremely unprintable.

Siegel and make-up artist John Chambers--played by John Goodman--are Mendez's liaisons in Hollywood and his advisors on what roles the six Americans stranded in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran should play once the fake movie stunt is underway.

Credit to any director who can take an event with which we're all familiar and create tension that you can cut with a knife, even when we know the outcome.

The opening sequence is a white-knuckle recreation of the storming of the American embassy and the taking of the hostages. The rest of the film is equally heart-pounding.

All credit to Ben Affleck for his superb vision and ability to pull this off. And the brilliant screenplay is merely icing on the cake.

I haven't seen a lot of movies at the theatre this year, but I have been catching my share on On Demand. I'd have to say Argo is the best film of 2012...by far...and, for now.