And the Oscar goes to…Washington, D.C.

Actress Jessica Chastain in a scene from "Zero Dark Thirty"
Actress Jessica Chastain in a scene from "Zero Dark Thirty"
Jonathan Olley/Columbia Pictures/AP Photo

Some of history’s most suspenseful, dramatic and action-packed moments can be found in this town. No, not Hollywood–Washington D.C.

The Washington Post pointed out that the 85th Academy Award nominations have showcased Washington staffers as the unsung heroes of film.  Some of the top contenders for the Oscars this year dramatize the bureaucratic struggle to get something done. It’s the celebration of the “squares,” the stories of the people who do their jobs in Washington not because of the cameras in front of them, but because of the purpose behind their positions.

“I think there is an element of showbiz in politics,” says New York Magazine film critic David Edelstein.  “Let’s face it, it’s not just private interactions, its private interactions and how they’re going to play with the public at large.”

“Lincoln” leads the pack this year with 12 nods, including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg.  Washington Post film critic Ann Hornady tells Hardball’s Chris Matthews that much of the success behind this movie can be attributed to screenwriter Tony Kushner, who has been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. “[He] grappled with this material for a very long time, wrestled with it, wrote several drafts, several very long drafts, until he found that nugget of that period of time,” says Hornady.

“Zero Dark Thirty” (about the hunt for Osama bin Laden) is also included in the Beltway inspired bunch with nominations for both Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Chastain. The film’s release has seen its own share of drama. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was among several politicians who criticized the film’s portrayal of  “waterboarding” in its opening scenes.

Also in the hunt for the Best Picture statuette on February 24 is “Argo.”  Ben Affleck, who directed the CIA thriller, plays real-life operative Tony Mendez, who came up with the plan to rescue six American hostages in Iran. “Inside baseball can be fun and not only fun, but meaningful,” says Edelstein.  “Finally, Hollywood, which is also obsessed with this stuff, has gotten the message and has made it sexy.”


And the Oscar goes to...Washington, D.C.