As more than 1 billion viewers gear up to watch the annual Academy Awards this Sunday, it struck me that we have two Oscar Best Picture contenders and one movie overlooked by the Academy but chock full of Oscar gold players and a first-time director which represent some of the most poignant caregiving moments brought to film in 2012.
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?
Part of the message of the movie is that it takes a lot of mutual support for people to be their best selves, whether or not mental illness is involved. And that if we're not afraid of mental illness, and we don't try to hide it, we can help people manage their symptoms and live up to their potential.