The Oscar ceremony on Feb. 24 may be Hollywood’s time for self-celebration. But this year at least, it will be Washington’s night to shine.
Thursday’s Academy Award nominations announcement presented a veritable hymn to the nation’s capital, from the 12 nominations for “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s chronicle of the 16th president bullying the 13th Amendment through a fractious Congress, and Ben Affleck’s “Argo” (seven nominations), about a nervy CIA mission to rescue American officials caught in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, to “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s taut, complex portrayal of the 10-year military and intelligence effort to track down Osama bin Laden.
“Lincoln,” “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” are undeniably deserving of their nominations on aesthetic, narrative and technical grounds. Each was on my top 10 list for 2012, with “Zero Dark Thirty” taking top honors. Each tells an engrossing, superbly crafted story that plunges viewers into otherwise opaque and unknowable worlds made distant by time, secrecy or both.