Since when were movies considered a reliable source, comparable to the many books and primary sources we have at our disposal? My college professors would never accept "J. Edgar" as a scholarly source for a history paper, just as they will never accept "Zero Dark Thirty" as a serious piece of historical evidence.
After five months of speculation both outlandish ("The Master" for Best Picture!) and not so outlandish ("Argo" for Best Picture!), the Oscars are one day away. All that's left is the tired cliche about the shouting. We've made our Oscar predictions already, so now it's time to help those loyal readers who find themselves participating in Oscar pools on Sunday night. (Print your ballot here.) Ahead, five left-field picks that could help you secure glory in the living room and the office.
An unusual number of films nominated for Oscars this year deal with real people, real histories, and real dilemmas. Artists brought the tools of big screen virtuosity, humor, beauty and sometimes brutality to images fished from the real world. At the same time, critics and members of the casual public asked that filmmakers be guardians of fact and responsible for the impact of their fiction. Interestingly, this movement dovetailed into calls for Hollywood to speak up about its role in gun violence. That artists are called to be more responsible and "true" is a tip of hat to their power. At this moment, the arts revealed our national politics, our ills and our triumphs. Could arts do yet more to influence our politics?