Washington to blame for Bigelow's missed Oscar nomination?
I could sum this up easily in one word, no, but there's a little more to it than that. While there is some desire to push the responsibility of the lack of voting for Kathryn Bigelow's lack of Academy Award nomination for Best Director onto the American government it seems there is only one group of people to blame, the panel who voted.
A few comments have been made from critics that the lack of voting for her may have been the close scrutiny the film has received for the way it has gathered information and the legitimacy of the use of torture in the film.
Kathryn Bigelow directed the film Zero Dark Thirty which purports to be the story that is closest to the actual events. According to reports Mark Boal, the screenwriter of the film, used more journalistic methods to obtain the research and develop the screenplay, and that kind of comment about the film suggests this is closer to the facts than anything we've seen or is being developed on the subject so far.
As soon as it was released there was controversy about the sources that Boal and Bigelow used and what were the actual facts, many of these voices of negativity were coming from the U.S. government and the comments weren't being made about the other projects on the same subject that have been or are soon to be released. Already this suggests to me that it's Zero Dark Thirty that is the closest to the truth, otherwise the same people would be attacking the other films with as much force, something they haven't been doing.
There is still controversy, and before the Academy Awards it was revealed that senators had written to Sony Pictures criticising them for releasing the film which suggested torture helped in the discovery and attack on Osama Bin Laden's location.
That in itself seems rather insane when I seem to remember through reading about 9/11 that the former President and his senior staff had signed off on torture being used to coerce information from terror suspects who were being deliberately held in a country where torture and non-Geneva convention styles of internment and interrogation could be carried out.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has even begun investigating the CIA's dealings with the production - note that they haven't launched an investigation into the alleged use of torture, just trying to find the people who talked to the writer.
However, politics aside, what does any of this matter to the Academy Awards, and if it did surely the pressure should be falling on the screenwriter rather than the director?
According to Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has said that the blame for the "snub" - a word I despise and that carries the suggestion the act it refers to was deliberately carried out with the intention of public scrutiny, a rather cowardly word too - lies squarely with the government. Indeed his quote is:
"Chalk up this year's (Oscar) nominations as a victory for the bullying power of the United States Senate and an undeserved loss for Zero Dark Thirty in general and director Kathryn Bigelow in particular...three members of the Senate, a deliberative body not previously known for its cinematic acumen, decided to place their feet on the neck of this particular film."
The article also states that Tom O'Neil of Goldderby.com told Reuters the official controversy may have caused a backlash in Hollywood.
It doesn't matter if there was political pressure, ultimately it is the voting panel that decided not to vote for her and the blame lies with them, if they were pressured they should not have caved and announced the pressure they were facing.
Of course politics should stay clear of the Academy Awards voting and there's the question of what it really achieves. In a rather blinkered move if those in Washington have indeed succeeded in swaying the opinion of the Academy Awards they have influenced one awards ceremony out of many in America and many, many more around the world.
There's always the chance that the panel weren't influenced at all and merely decided that the direction of the film was not deserving of a nomination, after all Ben Affleck is not in there either and he too has directed a very good film with a political and American intelligence services connection.
Oh my, perhaps there is a conspiracy after all?