IMPACT
02/24/2013 11:24 am ET

Oscar's 6 Biggest Winners (Even if They Don't Go Home With Trophies)

By Stephen Saito, TakePart

Win or lose on Sunday, these half dozen Academy Award-nominated films have already made waves of social change.

Silver Linings Playbook

It may have been a strategic move by awards season maestro Harvey Weinstein that thrust mental health into the spotlight rather than the boy-girl content of David O. Russell’s romantic comedy about a bipolar man (Bradley Cooper) recently released from a mental institution who battles against his own instincts to find love with a fellow neurotic (Jennifer Lawrence). Still, even if the ploy was to give more weight to what may have been perceived simply as a really good popcorn movie, the film was born out of serious intentions to destigmatize mental illness. Weinstein Company exec Renee Witt optioned Matthew Quick’s novel in part because of her own experiences growing up with a paranoid schizophrenic mother, and director Russell credits his bipolar son as an inspiration for the film. (Matthew Russell appears in the movie as Ricky, the next door neighbor who is working on a school project about mental illness.) Even if Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t win Best Picture on Sunday, it scored a meeting at the White House for the filmmakers to discuss mental health with Vice President Joe Biden.

Lincoln

Win or lose on Sunday, these half dozen Academy Award-nominated films have already made waves of social change.

Although much has been written about our 16th President since Steven Spielberg’s multi-nominated drama was released in October, particularly about the Great Emancipator’s skill at governing in untenably partisan times, Dr. Ranjan Batra took notice of something after seeing Lincoln that no one else did. The associate professor in the Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences department at the University of Mississippi did a little research and discovered his home state never officially ratified the 13th Amendment, the Constitutional decree that made slavery illegal in the U.S. While three other states were holdouts when the amendment was instituted in 1865, New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky all eventually came around to do the right thing in the years that followed. Mississippi was set to change its stance in 1995, only to have the resolution lost in the paperwork stages. Batra and his U of M colleague Ken Sullivan contacted Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who in turn made sure the resolution would go through the proper channels. Last week, Mississippi officially ended its holdout, a testament to the enduring power of Lincoln, of film and of audiences to push for change.

Participant Media, TakePart’s parent company, is a producing partner on Lincoln.

Click through for four Oscar-nominated movies that should be taking home trophies for social change.

This story originally appeared on TakePart.

Oscar Nominees That Made An Impact

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