‘Tis the season for Oscar-bait films to get called on the carpet for their fidelity to the truth. Of course, not all films get this kind of scrutiny.
“My Week with Marilyn,” celebrated for its vibrant lead performance by Michelle Williams as the iconic Monroe, is currently under the microscope for not telling the whole truth.
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It isn’t the first time a film with Oscar hopes has been questioned by the media. The 2001 film “A Beautiful Mind” got the cold shoulder for scrubbing the lead character’s less magnanimous side. Some argued John Nash, the inspiration behind Russell Crowe’s character, was both anti-semitic and a lousy father, charges Nash denied. The chatter threatened to derail the film’s Oscar chances, but it ended up winning multiple gold statuettes, including the coveted Best Picture award.
Some films which could use a bit of scrutiny, though, often get little or none.
Last year’s “Fair Game” played fast and loose with reality regarding the Valerie Plame affair, barely mentioning the person behind the leak of the CIA agent’s identity. The film ended up undeserving of awards for a very basic reason – it wasn’t compelling. But few critics raised a ruckus over how the film told only one side of a rather complex story.
But perhaps the most egregious recent examples of films fudging the facts came from the documentary genre. Both “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” threw some spurious charges around, and both ended up winning the Best Documentary Oscar. In the case of the former film, having a Democratic politician leading the way clearly made it unlikely that the press fact checkers would break a sweat over its charges.
And the press routinely avoids giving Moore’s films the thorough debunking they deserve.
So remember as the conversation regarding “Marilyn” and reality rears its ugly head this week that the truth seekers don’t embrace a level playing field.