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Jessica Chastain, actress in a leading role nominee for the film "Zero Dark Thirty" arrives at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  (UNITED STATES TAGS:ENTERTAINMENT) (OSCARS-ARRIVALS)
Jessica Chastain, actress in a leading role nominee for the film "Zero Dark Thirty" arrives at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 24, 2013. — Reuters Photo

LOS ANGELES: "Zero Dark Thirty," about the decade-long US hunt for Osama bin Laden, has received more attention in the US Congress than it did at the Oscars on Sunday, amid political fallout over its depiction of torture and alleged intelligence leaks to the movie's makers.

The film, which has sparked outrage among both Democrats and Republicans in Washington over its depiction of torture, and allegations that the Obama administration leaked classified intelligence to help the making of the film, won no major Oscars on Sunday and only one award overall.

Just three months ago, the thriller, which culminates in Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy Seals, was a strong contender to pick up the biggest prize of Best Picture, as well as the Best Actress and Original Screenplay awards.

By the end of Sunday night, however, it had picked up just one award - a shared Oscar for Sound Editing, which was a tie.

In recent weeks, the movie has seen a fierce backlash over its implied message that torture helped crack the bin Laden case.

Early signs of trouble came in mid-December when leading US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, both Democrats, and John McCain, the Republicans' 2008 presidential candidate, sent a letter to movie studio Sony Pictures, castigating the film.

They called the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading" for suggesting torture helped the US track the al Qaeda leader to a Pakistani compound, where he was killed in 2011.

Three weeks later, the film's director, Kathryn Bigelow, was omitted from the Oscar's Best Director shortlist, chosen by about 5,800 movie industry professionals who make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Bigelow was one of only four big directors to be snubbed while the film did receive five Oscar nominations.

In January, Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan pointed the finger at Washington, writing: "Chalk up this year's nominations as a victory for the bullying power of the United States Senate and an undeserved loss for Kathryn Bigelow."

Even on Oscar morning, the film woke to unwelcome headlines. The relatives of a flight attendant who died in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks criticized the film for using a recording of her last call before her American Airlines plane struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

Harry Ong, the brother of the flight attendant, Betty Ann Ong, called the film "just outrageous."

Republicans in Washington have been particularly critical of the film, alleging that it was used to help the re-election prospects of U.S. President Barack Obama, and that it revealed national security secrets.

Other victims of the September 11 attacks have voiced support for the film as did departing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Before Sunday's Oscars, Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief Matt Atchity said: "Controversial movies suffer with Academy voters. I think 'Zero Dark Thirty' will have a tough time winning Best Picture because I think the Academy is going to go with less controversial choices."

Comments (9) Closed

saransh Feb 25, 2013 11:03am
What's the point of an academy when it cannot recognize art?
Alan Feb 25, 2013 02:50pm
Can one imagine Michelle Obama announcing "Zero Dark Thirty" as the winner of the best picture Oscar?
C. R. Feb 25, 2013 04:27pm
It wasn't art--it was a torture-promoting, pro-government propaganda piece and most people saw through it, that's all.
Zak Feb 25, 2013 08:37pm
Pathans speaking Arabic, distorted facts except for the torture scenes, excluding Pakistanis contribution that led to the house, not showing treachery to a supposed ally and intruding its airspace and not involving it in the mission-what can one expect but failure. Irony is those involved are living in perpetual fear of being assassinated by OBL's avengers. Living death
Sean Bateman Feb 25, 2013 09:40pm
Zero Dark Thirty is too good for the conservative, line towing oscars. An immense piece of 21st century cinema, ditto Cloud Atlas.
kaydpea (@kaydpea) Feb 26, 2013 02:10am
Never mind that this is a badly distorted telling of these events. Never mind the fact that we know this movie is nearly entirely fiction. Never mind the fact that this is a CIA love story, actually written and produced by members of the CIA. This on top of all of that, is just a poorly made film. Boring, sad, I found myself just wanting it to be over.
anony Feb 26, 2013 02:18am
i agree.
James Feb 26, 2013 03:31am
They can recognize art. They can also recognize a lie. Truth is beauty.
Dan Feb 26, 2013 05:40am
So glad this made up fairy tale didn't win anything.