Which of This Year's Best Picture Nominees Are Secretly About Iraq?

Photo: Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images; Courtesy of Paramount Vantage, Fox Searchlight

Citing the poor showings of films like Rendition, Lions for Lambs, and A Mighty Heart in yesterday's Oscar nods, Variety says Iraq-themed movies failed to move Academy voters. We disagree — a good case can be made that three of this year's Best Picture contenders are allegories for the war (and a bad case can be made for the other two).

Atonement
Based on cherry-picked evidence and out-and-out lies, a well-off fabulist (Briony Tallis/Colin Powell) makes a baseless accusation (rape/intention to purchase yellowcake uranium) and gets an innocent (Robbie Turner/America) into an unwinnable war (WWII/Iraq). Later, we find out the real enemy is the profiteering chocolate-factory owner Paul Marshall, an unsubtle stand-in for Halliburton. (This one was pretty obvious.)

Juno
After making a huge mistake (doing it with Michael Cera), the titular 16-year-old protagonist becomes — SPOILER ALERT! — pregnant. She carries the baby to term before pawning it off on a pair of unsuspecting yuppies, much like Bush apparently intends to dump the war on his successor. Also, the movie's too clever dialogue is probably a metaphor for our military's use of torture.

Michael Clayton
In this complicated thriller, an evil, faceless corporation, guilty of releasing cancer-causing chemicals into the environment, dispatches shady goons to dispense with anyone with incriminating evidence. Truthfully, we're not sure how the film's plot relates to the war in Iraq, but would Hollywood liberal George Clooney have starred in it if it didn't?

There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as a malevolent sociopath who extracts oil from under the feet of people whose customs and religion he cares nothing for. By film's end, he's detached from reality, alienated from his advisers, and rambling nonsensically, pretty much the same way Bush has been since 2003.

No Country for Old Men
A dim-witted Texan (Josh Brolin, who was no doubt auditioning for his role as President Bush in Oliver Stone's forthcoming biopic) tangles with an unrepentant enemy, Anton Chigurh (whose unflattering haircut represents the Iraqi insurgency), and pays the price while traditional modes of peacekeeping (Tommy Lee Jones and military power) fail. At least that's what Alec Baldwin thinks.

Iraq films barely a blip on Oscar radar [Variety]