Argo’s Oscar-winning rewrite of history simply doesn’t bother Americans, and to be honest, I can’t say I blame them. If the real heroes of Argo had been British, say, or Belgian, I might not fret either. I just happen to be Canadian and I’m old enough to remember the true story of Argo — which everybody, Americans included, used to call “the Canadian Caper.” (via Oscar voters’ double standard gave Argo a free pass: Howell | Toronto Star)
- Former ambassador Taylor can’t seem to make up his mind about Argo. He expressed qualms about the film’s factual inaccuracies prior to the Oscars (as did former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, to CNN), then told the Star’s Martin Knelman afterwards he was pleased with the Best Picture win and Affleck’s onstage expression of thanks to Canada.
- Then Taylor told the Wall Street Journal he’s still “aggravated” about the film and plans to tell his version on Friday at a New York event for the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, hosted by Canadian Sen. Pamela Wallin, who certainly knows something about controversies. Taylor’s talk will be webcast live.
- And while the debate over who did what continues, the NYT’s Dargis and Scott remind us that “invention remains one of the prerogatives of art … It is unfair to blame filmmakers if we sometimes confuse the real world with its representations.” In other words, don’t go to your local popcorn palace expecting a history lesson that could pass a lie-detector test, even if Argo movie posters do promise “the declassified true story.”
- All the President’s Men doesn’t begin with “based on a true story,” the cop-out used byArgo and many of today’s truth-challenged dramas. That’s because Pakula’s film isn’t “just a movie”; it’s an honest effort to depict events that actually happened.
- Maybe this is why All the President’s Men didn’t win the 1976 Best Picture prize, which instead went to Rocky, the inspirational and mostly fictional boxing drama written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
- Feel-good won out over facts, as happened this year with Argo’s win over main challenger Lincoln, a film that treated history with far more respect.
- This is usually the case at the Oscars, although there was a weird double standard at play this time around. While Argo essentially got a free pass for its many pro-American embellishments, the film’s serious rivals Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty were subjected to unusually harsh scrutiny because they were judged somewhat lacking in the “correct” depiction of Americans.
- Lincoln was assailed for wrongly showing Connecticut legislators voting to retain slavery, a late-breaking revelation that probably cost screenwriter Tony Kushner the Best Adapted Screenplay award, which instead went to Argo’s Chris Terrio.
- Stranger still, and more unfair, was the heat directed at ZD30 for accurately portraying the American use of torture as one of many intel-seeking strategies during the 10-year hunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Because ZD30 failed to condemn torture outright, it was damned by many politicians and pundits, who likely contributed to its poor Oscar showing.
- Lincoln and ZD30 were far more truthful than Argo, but they both made one major mistake: they neglected to tell stories that Americans (or at least Oscar voters) were completely comfortable with. Nuance doesn’t make you want to pump your fist in the air.
truth is, like, so yesterday :)