This Sunday night, members of the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts & Sciences will gather together (along with many of their business representatives, families, agents and ex-spouses) to bestow its annual award – “The Oscar”- to the best artists, technicians and films this same Academy saw fit to nominate for said award earlier this year. The biggest Oscar award comes at the end of the night, when an Oscar is given to the Best Picture of the past year – again, determined by the Academy’s voting members.
This year, there are three Best Picture Nominees that should interest Conservatives and Republicans. LINCOLN, ARGO and ZERO DARK THIRTY are all excellent films and each of these film’s filmmakers and acting talent were at the top of their game for sure. The idea that three such films should be nominated all at the same time in this day and age is to me – flabbergasting.
In ARGO (directed by Ben Affleck), we get to experience or re-live the amazing, harrowing times of one President James Earl Carter and the tragic debacle of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. In LINCOLN (directed by Steven Spielberg), the tortuous process by which President Abraham Lincoln forced through the Passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery is re-told in painstaking detail. In ZERO DARK THIRTY (Directed by Kathryn Bigelow) tells the incredible story of the Central Intelligence Agency’s search for Osama Bin Laden and the Navy Seal Team 6 raid that thankfully ended his life. Can anyone tell me of another Oscar year with films showing a beloved Republican President in the best of lights; a failing and flailing Democratic President being saved by the Central Intelligence Agency’s greatest ruse; and an at-the-time maligned (but now considered forward-thinking) Republican President setting up his Democratic successor’s greatest achievement?
Based on his past films, we would expect Steven Spielberg to be fair towards President Lincoln and for
Daniel-Day-Lewis to give a consummate performance in playing “Honest Abe.” The fact that the Party of Lincoln should have such a wonderful portrayal of its scion on the silver screen (and one which will play in many U.S. schools and libraries for many years) should help greatly it to explain the history and founding of the Republican Party. Having traveled to the Little White Schoolhouse in Ripon, WI to see where Alvan Bovay and the Abolitionists first founded the Republican Party for FEAR OF A BLACK REPUBLICAN… I can assure you that many Americans do not know the Party’s early history or that Lincoln was a Republican. Now, they will. A win for the Republicans!
Ben Affleck (who was snubbed for a Best Director nomination) did a masterful job mixing story-telling with history and played no partisan favorites even though he is a big left-wing Democrat who many
right-wingers expected to excuse Jimmy Carter for his poor performance as President. The film clearly shows us two important things that we did not learn much from before September 11th: One, that we must never underestimate what our enemies or their mobs might do. Our Tehran Embassy staff did not think that the Iranian student mob would attempt to takeover our Embassy before it happened. Two, the lengths that Iran’s Mullah-controlled government would go to in trying to find the missing six embassy staffers (and find sensitive documents) indicated that we were going to be in a “war mode” with them, whether we knew it or not. ARGO’s scene of the schoolchildren taping together all of the Embassy’s and CIA’s shredded documents is jarring and impressive. How many of these kids grew up to be the I.E.D. makers or leaders of today’s Iran? That Mr. Affleck spared himself and the audience from the usual Hollywood Playbook is commendable and a sign that he will be a Director we should enjoy as he approaches serious material in the future.
The final movie that has a serious shot at Best Picture is ZERO DARK THIRTY. Director Kathryn Bigelow (also snubbed for Best Director) and her Writer/Producing Partner Mark Boal put together a film that tells us the harsh, unflattering history of our Central Intelligence Agency’s battle and hunt to find Osama Bin Laden. While the film ultimately ends in triumph with the historically-accurate killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist, we as an audience earn the ending we see. Just as in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, there is a certain amount of “earning” the rest of the film if you make it past the first twenty minutes or so. If audience members start the film and make it through the first Enhanced Interrogation scene, they will enjoy the rest of the film and get to see the Best Actress of this year in the form of Jessica Chastain as “Maya.” Republicans and Conservatives can take heart that some filmmakers took a chance to just tell a story, get it as right as they legally could and didn’t take any pot-shots at President Bush. That fact and because President Obama doesn’t come off as well, might explain Sony Pictures pushing ZERO DARK THIRTY’s release to after the Election. But, that is just my speculation.
Sadly, some of the more Left-Wing types in Hollywood and our Main-Stream Media have decided that any version of ZERO DARK THIRTY that doesn’t openly condemn the Bush Administration for its success constitutes betrayal. Venerable actors such as Ed Asner and Martin Sheen (who starred in APOCALYPSE NOW) have called for a boycott by Oscar voters from awarding any Awards to ZERO DARK THIRTY, even in the technical categories, because they feel it positively portrays torture. What is interesting and ironic about this new Black List is that many of these same critics have consistently condemned the anti-Communist Hollywood Black List of the 1940s/50s. Mr. Asner, et al. are very worried that ZERO DARK THIRTY might influence people to believe that torture in some way helped us find and kill Osama Bin Laden and influencing people in such a way is bad. Well, what has Hollywood been trying to do for the last fifty years or so? Influence people into new cultural and social mores while entertaining them. Shamefully, some Academy Voters will see things as Mr. Asner does and will not vote for ZERO DARK THIRTY as Best Picture. They’ll likely vote for LINCOLN or ARGO instead and consider doing so to be the lesser of three evils.
To these Oscar voters, all I can say is why did you go into filmmaking in the first place? If it was to tell a story, tell it well, enhance your craft, make some money and entertain an audience… then Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal and the Cast and Crew of ZERO DARK THIRTY did their job. As did the filmmakers of LINCOLN and ARGO. It is hard enough to make a film, let along release it to the world. If you haven’t seen ZERO DARK THIRTY, treat yourself and do so. And while you are at it, make sure to see LINCOLN and ARGO and show all three films to anyone nearing voting age and above. For you may not see films like these in the same year any time soon.
As a filmmaker, if I could vote…. my pick for this year’s Best Picture would be: