God bless America’s love of a good political drama
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 10 January 2013
After a brutal Presidential election campaign which found America forced to scrutinise itself and its politicians, its film academy has honoured films focusing on the battle for the country’s soul set in the past, and looking to its future.
The film that dominated today’s nominations was Lincoln, which was named in 12 categories, and perhaps little wonder.
At a time when America’s disdain for politicians has never been higher, Lincoln provides a weighty biopic of a strong leader who inspires admiration across the political spectrum, and from the White House to the man in the street.
Lincoln’s shadow looms large in American lore to this day, and Steven Spielberg’s film has been widely praised. It also provides a central performance by Daniel Day-Lewis that left a producer at the Baftas announcement on Wednesday saying he could scratch his name into the trophy now.
Argo also delves into a moment of turbulence in America’s past when militants stormed its embassy in Tehran. Following strong leadership, and an extraordinarily quirky plan – spoiler alert – the true result gives something for Americans to feel good about.
At the other end of the patriotism spectrum is Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s chronicle of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Where Lincoln and Argo looked to the past, it covers what Newsweek recently dubbed “America’s finest hour in the battle against al-Qaeda”. Yet it leaves uncomfortable questions for the future, ranging from the ethics and efficacy of torture, to the question of when the “war on terror” will finally be over.
Django Unchained also offers a muscular revenge thriller. Like Lincoln it is set against the backdrop of slavery, although the two are miles apart in style and tone.
The great British hope for the best picture statuette is Les Miserables. It may be set in France, but the Americans love a story of the people rising up against an uncaring authority and, with a few show-stopping tunes thrown in, it may just cause an upset.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
A victory for gender equality on the high seas
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election