Alan Arkin received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Lester Siegel in Argo.
Alan Arkin portrays a veteran film producer who CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), and make up artist John Chambers go to help create the fake film production. Where the scenes in Iran with the hostages are played very much with a strict uncompromising intensity the scenes that take place in Hollywood are played up for comedic value. Much of the humor comes in form of Alan Arkin as the crusty old producer, and his interactions with various Hollywood types as the three of them try to make the cover story seem strong. Most of Arkin's moments really come in his delivery of the various one liners he is given.
Arkin won his Oscar for playing a crusty old man in Little Miss Sunshine, who also had quite a few one liners. In both films Arkin delivers them in the same way which is always in a unabashed manner. I would say the difference though is in Little Miss Sunshine he always felt a bit cruder, and frankly due to that his deliveries there held a little more of a punch. His line delivery here though is still good as well as he does them in his crusty dead pan fashion. I will not fault Arkin here giving a similar performance to his performance in Little Miss Sunshine since it is completely fitting of the character of Lester Siegel.
What separates Lester Siegel in this film from Edwin Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine is there is considerably less heart here as Lester. There is a very brief scene where he talks about his family to Mendez that is fairly simplistic. Arkin is earnest in the scene, but still it does not make much of an impact unlike Arkin's scenes with Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine. In his Oscar winning turn Arkin made so there was a character who said one liners, whereas here it is more of Alan Arkin showing up to say a few one liners Siegel never really becomes a compelling character on his lonesome.
Now I will say this is a good performance in that when he is on screen he is enjoyable, and lightens up the film nicely. He, Affleck and Goodman have a certain chemistry that works in their scenes together that allows the scenes in making up the phony film appropriately entertaining. Arkin though doesn't steal the film or anything near that. When he is off screen, which is quite often especially in the third act of the film, he really is not missed all that much. Arkin in his performance offers a little bit of humor, and fun, but there is not anything here that is substantial enough to warrant this being recognized as one of the best performances of the year.