U.S. Government Quietly Drops Probe Into Best Picture Nominee — Did Politics Hurt Movie’s Oscar Chances?

Feb 26, 2013  •  Post A Comment

On the heels of the 2013 Academy Awards, a government investigation into a movie that was among the leading contenders has been dropped. Citing a congressional aide, Reuters reports that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has closed its inquiry into best picture nominee “Zero Dark Thirty.”

The probe focused on the interaction between the filmmakers and the CIA, the piece notes. The movie tracks developments leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“The intelligence committee gathered more information from the CIA, film director Kathryn Bigelow, and screenwriter Mark Boal and will not take further action, according to the aide, who requested anonymity,” the story reports. Producer Sony Pictures Entertainment had no immediate comment for the report.

The report hints at a connection between the political backdrop and the movie’s disappointing Oscar night. “Attacks by Washington politicians may have damaged its prospects at the Academy Awards,” Reuters reports. "’Zero Dark Thirty’ was nominated for a best picture award, which it did not win. Also, in what industry watchers considered a snub, Bigelow did not receive a best director nomination.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” was nominated for a total of five Oscars, including best actress (Jessica Chastain) and best original screenplay (Boal), but settled for only one win — a tie for best sound editing with the James Bond movie “Skyfall.”

“The Senate committee launched its review of the film, a dramatization of how the U.S. government located and killed Osama bin Laden, after its chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, expressed outrage over scenes that implied that ‘enhanced interrogations’ of CIA detainees produced a breakthrough that helped lead to the al Qaeda leader,” Reuters reports. “In December, as ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ was about to premiere nationwide, Feinstein joined fellow Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain in condemning ‘particularly graphic scenes of CIA officers torturing detainees’ in the film.”

A source close to the CIA’s interactions with the film’s producers said the agency helped the filmmakers develop characters for the movie but did not tell them that “enhanced interrogations” helped locate bin Laden, the story reports.

The report quotes an op-ed piece Bigelow published in response to the political controversy, in which the director wrote: "Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time."


  1. Let’s get this straight. They dropped the investigation into Zero Dark Thirty immediately after the Academy Awards?
    I’m not a conspiracy nut (well, not most of the time), but doesn’t this all seem too convenient? Is someone (Harvey?) smiling underneath a “Mission Accomplished” banner somewhere?

  2. No. While it was a good movie with good acting and even though we felt vindicated at the end it was just another action movie not, in my humble opinion, worthy of even the nomination for best picture or actress. No disrespect meant for all associated with the project.

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)