Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 by Angie Han
Is the U.S. Senate secretly working for Team Affleck? Certainly not, but they couldn’t have helped Argo more if they’d tried. Heading into prestige pic season, Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty looked like a strong contender for several top prizes. Then came the controversies over the film’s inaccuracies and its portrayal of torture, culminating in a formal investigation by the U.S. Senate into the Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal‘s relationship with the CIA.
All that hoopla may have crippled the film’s awards chances, and indeed it walked away from Sunday’s Oscars with just one lone Oscar for sound editing. Naturally, the Senate has now dropped its probe into the matter without revealing any of its findings. Hit the jump for more details.
The Senate fight against Zero Dark Thirty began in December, when members Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote a letter to Sony criticizing the picture as “grossly inaccurate and misleading.” The politicians subsequently opened an investigation into the filmmakers’ contacts with the CIA.
As of yesterday, however, Reuters reports that the Senate has decided to close that line of inquiry. Perhaps the timing is purely coincidental, but given that the news comes just one day after Zero Dark Thirty was almost totally shut out at the Oscars, it can’t help but look like a reaction to the awards results. Earlier this month, Boal remarked that “it’s become a fad for politicians to use movies as a publicity platform.” This definitely isn’t going to prove him wrong.
Still, it’s not like Zero Dark Thirty is coming out of awards season with absolutely nothing to show for it. Despite all the controversy, Bigelow’s fact-based thriller saw the biggest pre-Oscar bump (percentage-wise) of the nine Best Picture contenders, raking in $91 million in domestic grosses after the nominations were revealed. Before that point, it had earned just $5 million. True, that likely has a lot to do with the fact that the film didn’t even go wide until the day after the announcement — in contrast, Lincoln and Life of Pi had been in theaters since November — but the Oscar buzz surely helped too.