Oscars are Over, Senate Drops ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Probe


Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty
Jason Clarke in Zero Dark Thirty
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Whether you thought the Senate Intelligence Committee probe investigating Zero Dark Thirty was legit, or political grab or attempt to slow any kind of momentum the film may have had in terms of awards prospects or otherwise, the just announced decision to close the inquiry into screenwriter Mark Boal‘s contacts with the CIA reeks of all the above. Well, except that legit part.

The Reuters article making the announcement adds:

The government cooperated as much, if not more, on Argo, the film about the 1979-81 hostage crisis in Iran that won the best picture Oscar. Actor-director Ben Affleck and his team were allowed to film scenes in the lobby of the CIA building in Langley, Virginia; the Zero Dark Thirty crew did no such filming.

Is it a matter of coincidence the film that paints America in the most positive light possible, to such an extent it has been massively criticized for over-stepping jingoistic boundaries, is left alone while the one that purports to tell as unflinching a depiction of events as possible within reason is the one that falls under fire? Whether you have a bullseye out of Zero Dark Thirty or not, the hypocrisy is clearly visible.

What’s equally frustrating is that it looks as if any potential findings that may or may not have come out of the inquiry won’t be released. I guess we can just trust the Senate committee got to the bottom of that torture issue they had a problem with… in movies.

Now I’m not suggesting Senate chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and fellow senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) were specifically hoping to stop Zero Dark Thirty‘s chances at the Oscars, but I am suggesting the opportunity was taken to move the spotlight.

Immediately following its first screenings, Zero Dark Thirty was looked at as a Best Picture front-runner. Its screenplay jumped to the top as did Jessica Chastain in the Best Actress race and Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director. Once all was said and done, it shared the Sound Editing Oscar with Skyfall… Mission Accomplished?

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