The first thing that you’ll note is that I’ve made the title past tense. It’s not a typo. It’s a fact. Zero Dark Thirty was never going to be given a chance to win the award for best picture at the Academy Awards from the moment the screenwriter typed, “Fade in.”
It was not a surprise when Hollywood actors started speaking out about the movie asking academy members to “vote their conscience”. They didn’t say to vote for the best movie. They aren’t telling their peers to vote for the most deserving. By asking the academy members to vote with their conscience, what they’re really telling them to do is to vote against the truth. It isn’t about whether or not the movie deserves the award or not; that sort of “truth” is still marred by opinions. The truth that the academy is going to vote against is that there were ugly benefits in the negative ways that the US derived intelligence that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Tortures were performed and at no time did the movie say that these tortures were bad, so the academy would never vote for movie that gave credibility to the perceived conservative viewpoint that there’s a place during extreme situations when activities such as waterboarding are necessary.
By no means am I showing support for torture or saying that it is a part of the conservative mindset in the war on terror, though that is the perception. Torture happened. They may or may not have contributed to finding the location of the most dangerous terrorist in American history. These are facts and the movie did a great job at depicting them.
Zero Dark Thirty did not sugarcoat torture and it didn’t blow the threat of terrorism out of proportions, but that’s exactly what the Hollywood elite want people to believe. They are not going to reward a movie with its highest honor when that movie tells the truth about something so sinister. Some at the academy would have their members believe that giving Zero Dark Thirty the best picture Oscar is tantamount to supporting torture.
“Vote your conscience.”
They won’t. If they had a true conscience, they would reward the movie that took a risk and discussed the realities of an ugly chapter in our history through the lens of reality rather than activism. ZD30 star Jessica Chastain may win the award for best actress. She should, and in any other movie her performance would be even more heralded, but her presence in the movie that Hollywood wish was never made puts her award status in jeopardy. The movie itself will not win the award for best picture and may only win best original screenplay because of a weak field. Director Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t even nominated. It could get token awards for best film editing and best sound editing but those are unlikely.
This was the best picture of the year. Argo or Lincoln were the other politically charged films and one of them will likely win, not because they were better but because they’re were lighter on the political truths. They weren’t controversial. They were great movies, but not nearly as gripping or well-produced as ZD30. They were the safe picks.
Zero Dark Thirty will get the shaft for being on the wrong side of the political aisle in Hollywood.