"Waterworld" got nominated for an Academy Award. No kidding. All right, it was for "best sound mixing." Still, the nearly unwatchable 1995 science-fiction box-office bomb had a chance of walking away with Oscar. No such luck for "Lone Survivor," the riveting true-life story of a tragic military mission in Afghanistan--which also crushed it in ticket sales.
A number of conservative critics, including Sean Hannity, cried foul, citing the snub as just another example of how liberal Hollywood really hates the military. Yes, the film had sparked some wrong-headed complaints from the loony left, charging that the film was little more than warmongering.
But such silliness alone usually isn’t enough to keep a movie from the red carpet. No film was more pro-military than "Saving Private Ryan." But that didn’t keep the 1998 film from going five for eleven in the Oscar hunt.
Nor, can "Lone Survivor" be considered a casualty of post 9/11 war fatigue. "The Hurt Locker," an Iraq combat film, won best picture of 2008.
Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review Online, shrugged off the whole controversy. "As for the liberal-bias thing. I absolutely agree there’s an enormous amount of left-wing bias in Hollywood, including often at the Oscars,” he acknowledged. But in the end, he concluded it is not unusual for deserving talents to go unrecognized at the Oscars—even in the absence of any political or ideological component .
Certainly, the Academy Awards are often more of a popularity contest than a talent competition. But Hollywood got it dead wrong on two counts by turning its back on "Lone Survivor."
Talk to any Special Operations veteran who was involved in consulting or advising on the film, and he will go on forever raving about the exhaustive efforts of the film's production crew to get not just the story but the details exactly right.
In the annals of American war films, the technical accuracy and realism of this film is unprecedented.
In this regard, it is truly a historic cinematic achievement. For Hollywood, not to salute that is a travesty.
There is a second reason Hollywood should have recognized this movie. This film is as loving a tribute to the generation of post 9/11 warriors as "Saving Private Ryan" was to the World War II generation. And both generations of warriors are “the greatest.” In recognizing "Lone Survivor," Hollywood had an opportunity to say “thank you” to those who put it all on the line for this nation in this century. Another huge opportunity lost
That said, it’s simply unfair to label Tinsel Town as a bunch of pathetic pacifists. Painting with such a broad brush is always sloppy. Gary Sinise may be the most prominent Hollywood heavyweight to go out of his way to serve those that served, but there are others. And the truth is that Hollywood’s rank-and-file is populated with far more patriots than most of us suspect.
The Oscar race runs on more than merit. The P.R. campaigns needed to get nominated, much less win, rival those of presidential contests. On that score, it is far from clear that the suits behind "Lone Survivor" made much of an effort. On Sunday night, the stroll down the red carpet will be poorer for their indifference.
James Jay Carafano is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @JJCarafano.