The Oscar nominations are in at last! Nine movies made the list for Best Picture. Of them, I have only seen two so far - Lincoln and Argo, both of which well deserve their Oscar nod. I hope to see Zero Dark Thirty sometime soon. But that's still only one-third of the nominees! (Of course, in the good old days, when there were only 5 nominess, 3 out of 5 would have been a good percentage. And it's highly likely that, if the Academy still had the disicpline to confine the number of nominees to 5, those 3 would all be on the list).
Of the two I have already seen, I guess I'd probably give the nod to Lincoln, although if Argo won I would not think it undeserved. As for the actor categories - Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, Sally Field for Best Actress, and Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor, all nominated for their outstanding performances in Lincoln - my guess is that they could all win, resulting in a real Lincoln sweep this year.
Film considerations aside, I think there is an added aspect to Lincoln's appeal - and perhaps Argo's as well - and that is the evocation of a government that worked (and, perhaps more pointedly, political leaders who worked the way political leaders ought to work). The lame-duck House of Representatives Lincoln dealt with in the film may not have been as completely ineffective as the recently expired 112th House, but it was certainly no model of high quality governance. Yet, committed and effective leaders - like Lincoln and Stevens - men who cared about what they most fundamentally believed in (in their case, abolition) and also cared to engage the process to make something happen were actually able to succeed. If President Obama cares comparably about reducing inequality, resolving immigration, and doing something serious about the pestilence of private gun ownership, he too must be effective (much more so than he has been) in making those beliefs the nation's agenda, and he must engage the levers of social power to translate that wish list into political accomplishments. The first three weeks of January have given us a new year and a new Congress and will soon give us the start of a new presidential term. A good time for a fresh start!
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