This year at the 2013 Academy Awards, things are gonna get REAL. No, that’s not the tagline for an Oscar-based reality show, but that would be fun, right? But speaking of real, so many of the 2013 Oscar nominated films are inspired by true events. Some of them are super true, some of them are based on a true story but take crazy creative liberties, but there is an undeniable trend of “inspired by true events” happening in this years Oscar canon.
From Zero Dark Thirty, to Argo, to Lincoln to even the cartoon bloodbath of Django Unchained, the common theme of history is an undeniable one with this year’s picks. And then there are the others, like Silver Linings Playbook or Amour that may not be taken from headlines or history, but are totally real on a human level. And even if the giant boar in Beasts of the Southern Wild may be total fantasy, it’s still real in my childlike imagination. So we’ve ranked the hopefuls in descending order in degrees of realness. Because Hollywood is about being real. The Wizard of Oz taught us that.
How true is Argo?
This film expanded my knowledge of the Iranian hostage crisis from zero to conversational! The plot and most of the many of details are factual, and the screenplay is adapted from CIA agent Tony Mendez’s memoir of his clandestine operation to bring the six escaped diplomats from the taking of the US Embassy in Tehran. So the craziest part of the movie, the overall premise of a dummy production company creating a fake film with a full script, the fake press conference, all of that is totally true. And we can infer that Tony Mendez is a real non-Hollywood guy because of that awkward Golden Globes presentation he did alongside an embarrassed John Goodman. However, the crew’s ultimate escape with that crazy plane chase at the very end of the film sorta felt like hollywood heavy machinery porn, and it was. Mendez describes their escape in his memoir as “smooth as silk.” But past that infraction, you win the truthiness award, Ben Affleck! Matt Damon is officially irrelevant, so it’s your turn to be the cool friend!
How true is Zero Dark Thirty?
Kathryn Bigelow’s account of one woman’s determination to find and kill Osama Bin Laden is gripping, and feels intensely real. From Jessica Chastain’s brilliant portrayal of CIA agent Maya, to the incorporation of global events that we all remember—the Islamabad Marriott bombing, The London bus attack, even the Times Square incident that happened just a few years ago. But we can’t confirm any details regarding the investigation, questioning of detainees, or even the existence of Maya. Also, Bigelow has been criticized for a flub at the film’s end, when Pakistani citizens are speaking Arabic. Yikes. Still, we’re all DYING to know who this real woman is, because we’d like to follow her around and breathe the same air as her in hopes of becoming a tenth as amazing as she is. And as Jessica Chastain hints in this interview, this is totally possible because she does exist.
How true is The Impossible?
This film is an account of one family’s endeavor to survive the 2004 Thailand Tsunami. So yeah, that really happened, we even reviewed it. But the film follows a family of white English-speaking tourists and not a Spanish family… What? Not to say that everyone wasn’t having a hard time, but these fictional people had rented a freakin’ villa. True story of the worst vacation ever, but at least they have a home to return to. And Naomi Watts’ curls are way too perfect considering she spends part of the film clutching onto a waterborne log.
How true is Lincoln?
Steven Speilberg’s Lincoln was super effective in demonstrating how long and frustrating the passage of The Thirteenth Amendment was. Long enough for me to check the time on my phone every fifteen minutes and be like “WHEN IS THIS GONNA END??” So, realness factor is high. But did Lincoln really tell that many meandering tangential stories? I smell some creative liberties. Also, you lost some points from me for making Adam from Girls a military page. Didn’t they get the memo? He only exists in Generation-Y Brooklyn.
How true is Amour?
So we all know that everyone gets old, and aging is depressing. Amour shoots that shit straight. If you’re in love with someone through the adult-diaper stage of life, you have a 50% chance of being the healthier one and having to deal with the pain of watching that person deteriorate and die. Ugh. Mortality…Essentially, the only thing making this film less factual than Lincoln is the fact that there is no chapter in my American History text book (yes I kept it, and didn’t pay the school library fee) about Georges and Anne.
How True is Silver Linings Playbook?
Jennifer Lawrence is the realest girl ever in and of herself, and this gives the film brownie points. And she’s sooo good as a crazy person! What fun it would be to drink wine and watch reality TV with her… And I’ve seen people running in garbage bags to sweat more, so that’s a thing that people do. But can we talk about the dance competition at the end? While I loved it, I didn’t believe them getting a 5. During that lift scene, J-Law would have broken her vagina, and I don’t think that’s something one could finish that performance with.
How true is Django Unchained?
The diving point for Quentin Tarantino’s Western parody is the historical reality of the brutal institution of slavery. But past that, this film is pure camp. Like, when people get shot, it’s like cans of tomato juice exploding in the air. One more truth this film gets at, Cristoph Waltz is the best person on Earth and I’m nursing a deep uncomfortable crush. Also, side note, Quentin Tarantino should never attempt an Australian accent. It’s embarrassing.
How true is Flight?
Well, people have flown planes drunk before. We learned a bit about it in this Businessweek article. One pilot was so drunk that once he tried to dip the wing of his jet into the Pacific Ocean. But just as a side note, we think that if Denzel Washington applied himself, he could definitely get his flying license. And he’s totally not the kind of dude to down some pre-flight margaritas at the airport Chili’s.
How true is Life of Pi?
So we’re sure at one point a young boy must have spent time on board of a wooden boat with a tiger. We live in a wide wonderful world of wonders, and theoretically anything can happen. But honestly, is it likely they became friends? Nah. We all saw Grizzly Man, and we know what happens to you when you think that a fanged beast is a suitable spooning partner. Then again, there is the heartwarming case of Christian the Lion.
How true is Beasts of the Southern Wild?
This film is a fantasy flick, and has monsters, so on the reality spectrum it scores pretty low. But that doesn’t mean that the imagination factor doesn’t give it an edge! And Quevenzhane Wallis. Just Quevenzanhe Wallis. The is an unrealistically adorable child.