It’s definitely that moment in the Oscar race where people feel like they have to cheat to win – and that’s what chest-thumping negative campaigning is.  Cheating.  So big brave Rep Joe Courtney, whom Ben Affleck once campaigned for, discovered that Connecticut did not vote no against the 13th amendment, though in the movie it says they did.  A mistake, in a very dense painstakingly attended to script. A mistake gets turned into a crusade in hopes of securing the vote for his friend’s movie.    A mistake that has now been turned into negative headlines. Blood in the water and all of that: 

Not a mistake as it turns out.

In a statement to the Hartford Courant, Courtney recommended the movie, saying that the portrayals of major characters was brilliant. However, he said he felt it was a wrong that needed to be righted. Courtney proceeded to write a letter to Steven Spielberg, the film’s director, asking that the movie be corrected before its release to DVD.

“The state’s good name, I personally feel, was tarnished a bit,” Courtney told the Courant.

Tarnished a bit. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what people watching Lincoln were thinking: those assholes in Connecticut! Those assholes voted no! Connecticut racist bastards!  I will never go to Connecticut again.

I’m sure that anyone involved in the script, book or production would be happy to put this as a footnote, probably one among many.  A classy person would have simply sent an email to Tony Kushner but no, it’s Oscar season.  Time to puff up like an angry peacock and defend the honor of your state!  Or maybe try to give back to someone who once helped you win an election.  Someone should tell him Affleck needs no help winning at this point.

So this is what the Oscar race is to be from here on out? As filthy as a political campaign? That’s  how you want to find your Best Picture of the Year?  You’ll end up with winners as bland and gutless as our politicians.  I heard on Twitter that supposedly Tommy Lee Jones’ grumpy-cat face would cost him votes and that Robert De Niro’s crying on Katie would earn him votes. Guys, what the hell are we all doing here pretending this shit is about quality?  This isn’t quality, this isn’t about film achievement, it’s about politics.

At least the reporter over at EW realizes that every movie has been hit with something this year.



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  • Marie

    I wouldn’t have even noticed that Connecticut congressmen had voted one way or the other, if Courtney hadn’t brought it up. Also, if I recall from a making-of-Lincoln documentary, they changed the names of some of the real folks who voted against the amendment (used false names) so as to not offend their families…perhaps this caused some confusion resulting in colateral damage to Connecticut.

  • Niles

    Everything is not perfect in life and you can’t always get what you want. I say who cares, I bet a million dollars there is some clerical error written in a script whether its grammatical or something wrong with the story. Lincoln was a good film, and I guarantee to you there might be some errors in Argo that nobody is talking about.

  • daveinprogress

    Timing is everything in this ‘business’! Interesting.

  • Marie

    Also, its not like they made all four congressman vote against it…the mistake was that it presented two of them as doing so. If it were all four congressmen–it would be conspiratorial. But two makes it just a mistake. I can’t remember the scene so I am not sure how it was presented. Plus, since the congressmen change their minds off and on throughout, I wouldn’t have noticed.

  • Andrew

    Argo will win because the Academy like it better as BP. But I see you have something nice to add to your excuses when Lincoln loses.

  • James

    “This isn’t quality, this isn’t about film achievement, it’s about politics.”

    This is what the Oscars have always been about; campaigning or politicking are not new phenomena. I don’t know why anyone would feign outrage over this sort of thing. The Oscars are a fun distraction, but no one, apart from perhaps the winners, believes that they should be taken seriously.


    Excuses????..and ARGO Will win????…Not so fast ..This race its everything! Everything…But Over ???..not yet!..

  • Bball_Jake

    The Oscars are political as hell. They’re also pussies when it comes to choosing a winner!

  • mileshigh

    @Niles The controversial historical inaccuracy of the role of the U.K. and New Zealand embassy isn’t the biggest issue of Argo. I’m surprised that Ben Affleck playing a Latino character or as a director portraying a tattered Hollywood sign in 1979 (when it was repaired in 1978) have rarely been mentioned as an issue. Personally, I find it hard to believe that the Iranian police actually chased the plane down the runway during the dramatic climax but I haven’t researched those details.

  • Pierre de Plume

    mileshigh, I’ve read that the entire sequence of the runway chase was entirely fabricated. Although it makes for an exciting climax, it’s a bit of a stretch.

    Someone should tell [Congressman Courtney] Affleck needs no help winning at this point.

    People don’t usually do stuff like this unless they feel there’s a need to do it.

    If I were an Oscar voter and saw Robert DeNiro cry on Couric’s show, it wouldn’t change my vote. But it certainly takes the mystery away from him, and that was one of the qualities that always made him so appealing as an actor — his remoteness.

  • “I bet a million dollars there is some clerical error written in a script whether its grammatical or something wrong with the story.”

    Pivotal scene in Argo where we supposed to see that Lester Siegel is a sharp cookie:

    Max Klein: You’re finished, Lester. Get your cataracts fixed, read the trades. MGM just capitalized for six new films, they’re screaming for Sci-Fi. They’re offering me four times what you guys are offering me.

    Lester Siegel: Well, what can I say? Congratulations. But see, it kind of worries me what you’re saying. Let me tell you why. Couple of weeks ago I was sitting at Trader Vic’s, I was enjoying a mai tai, when my pal, Warren Beatty comes in, he wishes me well, we have a little chat. Seems he was attached to star in ‘Zulu Empire’, which was gonna get anchored at MGM slate. But Warren confided in me that the pictures gone over budget, because the Zulu extras wanna unionize. They may be cannibals, but they want health and dental, so the movie’s kaput. Which means, that the MGM deal ain’t gonna happen, and your scrip ain’t worth a buffalo shit on a nickel! So, the way it looks to me, through the cataracts I grant you, is that you can either sign here and take ten thousand dollars for your toilet paper script, or you can go fuck yourself! With all due respect.


    That monologue does not show us that Lester Siegel is a well-connected insider. It only tells me that Lester Siegel is a bald-faced liar.

    The scene takes place in January 1980. That month Warren Beatty was jetting around the world to half a dozen countries filming Reds. Beatty shot Reds over a period of an entire year — between August 1979 and August 1980 — when Argo places him supposedly loafing at Trader Vics, schmoozing with has-beens, and losing his gig to star in Zulu Empire?

    Not only that, a mere 8 months earlier Beatty had been nominated for 4 Oscars — Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and producing Best Picture — for Heaven Can Wait. But we’re supposed to buy this bullshit that a 4-time Oscar nominee who’s in the middle of filming Reds, at the peak of his career is somehow “attached” to some nothing piece of crap called “Zulu Empire”? No way. Preposterous.

    Anyone in Hollywood in 1980 would know instantly how absurd Lester’s tale sounds. Bad enough that Lester Siegel is spinning a dumb story that he ran into “my pal” Warren Beatty (ugh, even the phrasing rings so false, doesn’t it?). The audience in 2012 is supposed to buy this as a super-clever GOTCHA! moment. And I’m sure most people swallow it without a second thought.

    But Lester is sitting in Hollywood in 1980 talking to another industry insider, and we’re expected to believe that “Max Klein” is too dumb to call Lester’s idiotic bluff? The whole scene hinges on this being an well-informed maneuver by a slick power-broker — Aha! See how the savvy Hollywood producer is so connected to the grapevine that he was able to take the wind right out of Max Klein’s sails?.

    No. That’s not what I see. Klein is presented to us as the big bullshitter in the room, but anybody who knows what Beatty was doing in 1979 and 1980 would see that it’s Siegel who’s an even bigger bullshitter — and yet Klein just folds like a big dummy who has no clue that Beatty is riding high on the crest of 4 Oscar nominations, only 8 months prior? 4 Oscar nominations for a single individual in the same year. A feat that must surely have been pretty big news in 1979 — especially if we can still recall it 35 years later without even looking it up.

    So the whole silly monologue fails for me. It fails because it’s blatantly false. It fails because it accidentally demonstrates that Lester either has no idea what he’s talking about or else he’s just full of shit. Either way, not admirable, not clever, and definitely not a smart move by Chris Terrio because it wrecks the veracity of the careful recreation the movie is pretending to construct (and consequently automatically makes me wonder what else Terrio is blithely lying about).

    Terrio expects the gullible audience in 2013 to key into namedropping like “Beatty” and “Trader Vics” as vintage old-timey 1980s things and thinks we’ll just roll with the stupid lie — when it would have been so easy to think of a real example (because, in fact, MGM really was in deep trouble in 1980), so why not illustrate Lester’s smarts in some other way that’s doesn’t show the screenwriter thinks the audience is too ignorant to know any better?

    Don’t even get me started on how Alan Arkin recites that wall-to-wall fabrication without the briefest pause to catch a breath, so even the delivery sounds fake fake fake.

    This really isn’t a huge deal-breaker that ruins Argo for me. Not at all. Of course not. But neither is this silliness about the Connecticut congressmen in Lincoln.

    Oh no! If movies don’t get all the historical details perfectly right, how the heck will university professors ever know which movies to show in class to teach students about American History!? Gosh, will the students have to go out and buy a book to learn The Truth!? But books are so many pages and stuff! Shame on you, Hollywood, for failing to properly educate Americans.

  • Sasha,

    You make the jump that Affleck had something to do with the congressperson speaking out without anything but circumstantial evidence. Yet, you criticize those who made the jump that Spielberg called on Clinton for a favor at the Golden Globes. Even though it proved to be true.

    And, then you act surprised the Oscar campaigning is so political. While I’m sure it’s possible it has gotten worse, it’s nothing new. And, I’m not sure why your reaction suggests it is. “Bland and gutless”? Those words describe well over the majority of the BP years over the decades.

    Sasha, you’ve either had your head in the sand and kept it there willfully, or … I don’t know what. Like you’ve said, you’ve been at this for fourteen years. Perhaps I’m missing something about you missing something.

    As far as the mistake … considering the film Lincoln takes an hour on the voting alone, you would think they would get the actual votes correct. Not sure why they would take artistic license on which direction one particular state would go, but, you’d think they get it right. Nothing wrong with standing up and saying, “Um, no. We were on the correct side of history. And we’re proud of it.” It’s not unheard of for you to proclaim how you’re on the correct side of history while thumbing your nose at those you aren’t.

  • And, as Dave in Progress pointed out, timing is indeed everything. Aren’t ballots about to go out?

  • “I’m not going to talk about whether Argo will or won’t. I’m only going to talk about how good it is ”

    “One of the best screenplays by a long, long way is Chris Terrio’s walnut-tight script.”

    “Affleck hit it out of the park this year with Argo.”

    “Argo isn’t just a Best Picture frontrunner amid the Oscar pundit circles; it is that rare word of mouth film that people “out there in the world” are talking about. Why, because it delivers in so many different ways.”

    “Lincoln and Argo aren’t the only films that look back on who we once were and how that defines who we have become today.”

    “Dig beneath its layers and you will find a more intriguing glimpse into American intelligence.”

    [Headline] “Ben Affleck’s Argo scores big with critics”

    [Headline] “Argo: Just a Great F*cking Movie”

    “Argo is a perfect film — a tightly defined one.”

    “If you want to go deeper you can and that’s what elevates Argo from simple satisfying entertainment to an ultimately profound film about America’s place in the Middle East and ultimately in the world.”

    “It’s a lot easier to call a race once the other films have been seen. On the other hand … it is one of those rare perfect films that give you a satisfying cinematic experience … ”

    All quotes attributable to Sasha Stone.

  • Zooey

    I second Vince. You make accusations without having any evidence. So excuse me but your take at the whole thing is even more political than the congressman’s letter. At the very least we all know you have an agenda.

  • dp

    i think on any “historical” film, someone will find fault at. no one’s gonna be happy. but they presented this film as prestige, a history lesson…it had doris kearns goodwin on the team! did she ok the artistic license on the vote? so yeah, something like this does look egregious. maybe the congressman really loves his state- is that too far fetched? i mean, maybe he read this site recently and got umbrage envy.

    if ZD30 took off the “based on first hand accounts” from the beginning of the film, they may have avoided a lot of the controversy and saved the director and writer from having to backtrack and say it’s only a movie. but really, why need to bring Affleck into this (on this article and on twitter)…geez, it’s starting to sound petty. it would be like me saying (if i were a disgruntled ZD30ista: “spielberg must have called in his chips from his state’s senator (feinstein) for knee capping ZD30 just as awards season was about to start! smooth sailing for lincoln at this point….why not cap it off with clinton at the globes.

  • Ryan Adams

    Holy shit. Vince found evidence that Sasha liked more than one movie in 2012. I KNEW IT! Wish we had thought to look for proof sooner so we wouldn’t have had to listen to 100 readers sqawking for 2 mouths that we’re all about Lincoln Lincoln Lincoln.

    Of course, I liked 20 different movies this year and I never tried to pretend otherwise.

    But since I know 20 different movies can’t all win Best Picture , I settled on my two favorites in December — Lincoln and Life of Pi.

    But hey, Vince, please go find all the nice things I said about The Master and Perks of a Wallflower and all the other movies we’ve rightly praised like Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild and all rest.

    Because then you can prove… Wait, what ARE you trying to prove?

    Trying to prove that Sasha can like more than one movie but really probably only ONE movie can be her favorite?

    You’re only half done, dude. Now you need to go find Sasha’s top 20 Lincoln quotes.

  • Holden

    This really is a stupid thing to complain about. Then again, of all of the things to not get right, this is kind of strange. I mean, if it’s for the sake of the narrative, that’s one way to tell a story, albeit cheap and calculated. Other than that, it’s kind of lazy. Yes, the script was poured over, but this is sort of a significant detail that really could have been corrected by the simplest of fact checks. Other than that, so what? Spielberg isn’t in the business of retelling history. He’s in the business of telling compelling stories. Detail is key in historical fiction, yes, but it must be understood that some things slip through the cracks.

    That is very schizophrenic. Anyhow…

  • Ryan G

    I find it amusing that you bemoan the dirty politicking of the Oscar season (and by the way, the example you give in this article is very tame), while choosing as your favorite to win Best Picture the one nominee that deals explicitly with dirty politicking and issues a strong argument for “the end justifies the means.”

    I’m curious: Is there something dirtier this year about the politics being played than in previous years?

  • Tony

    The Connecticut congressman, Affleck, Sasha, Asner, Sheen, Spielberg — I love it when Democrats fight!

    This is what happens when you blow your own horn, trumpeting yourself as a grand history lesson. You can take some artistic license with things that aren’t verifiable, but you shouldn’t screw up details that are easily verifiable. Doris Kearns Goodwin is probably shooting daggers at Kushner & Spielberg right about now.

  • Andrew

    Although the connection between Affleck and Congressman Courtney is a fact, for Sasha to assume the reason the latter is highlighting the Connecticut mistake, because he is supporting Affleck at the expense of Lincoln, is tenuous and libellous.

    A pity if a moment of imprudence will affect this website, which has insightful articles that contribute well to Oscar watching.

  • Lane

    This years the best picture winner will be more about do whatever it takes to win, not film achievement. The Argo campaign team are not letting up until the last day, that much is obvious. The competition for best picture is so strong this year and naturally they all want to win, some are more desperate than others (yes Ben Affleck, I’m looking at you). ZD30 was Argo’s biggest competition at one point until the smear campaign that it was a movie that condoned torture started and now it stands no chance of winning. The only real threat left to Argo right now is Lincoln, so negative comments by one of Affleck’s senator friends is not a surprise, I don’t think Affleck has anything to do with it but his PR team and the Argo campaign workers who are working their butts off to get him an Oscar probably do. Argo will win this year for two reasons, firstly because Hollywood loves it since it’s a movie that portrays Hollywood as life saving heroes and secondly, let’s face it if you want to win this is how you run an Oscar campaign.

  • Winston

    A better critique of Lincoln is that it made it seem that there was much greater opposition to the 13th amendment then there was by the end of the Civil War. The issue was never if the amendment would get the majority of votes, but whether it would pass with a two thirds majority required to pass an amendment before it would be sent to the states for ratification. The amendment had already passed the Senate by the required number. The remaining issue was whether it could get the requisite votes to pass with a two thirds majority in the House. When that happened it was then adopted by the states. In sum, Lincoln made it seem that there was more opposition to the amendment then there really was to heighten the drama. Getting the number of votes to pass any amendement isn’t easy by design so there will always be poltitics and deal making. But the film made it seem that Lincoln was heroically standing against the teeth of fierce national opposition when that wasn’t quite the case.

  • Winston

    Incidentally if I were a congressman from a state that was falsely depicted in a popular film as voting against the 13th amendment I would ask for a correction too. In the grand scheme of things its trivial. I liked Lincoln a lot; a deserving best picture contender. But it’s Spielbergian.

  • Jack Traven II

    Imagine a descendant of Sigmund Freud appearing right before the 1998 Oscars just to claim that his/her ancestor’s ideas on the male preoccupation with size Kate Winslet’s Rose mentions in Titanic had not been published until 1920. And that just to boost the chances of As Good as It Gets, yet another film without a director nod. Gee, that might’ve sunk the ship. 😉

    So, cool down, folks. It’s everything but over. And don’t forget: only 17 more days and it IS all over. So, keep enjoying it!

  • The J Viewer

    [Not American.]

    “Rep Joe Courtney discovered that Connecticut did not vote no against the 13th amendment, though in the movie it says they did.”
    ‘“The state’s good name, I personally feel, was tarnished a bit….”’

    He represents Connecticut.

    The error, had it been left unaddressed, would have become part of perversion of American history. Therefore, as Connecticut congressman, Courtney, in my opinion, regardless of his real intent did what seemed not to be uncalled for at all by reason of his office. Besides, publicity was part of the political game — awards season or not. Just saying.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “The scene takes place in January 1980. That month Warren Beatty was jetting around the world to half a dozen countries filming Reds. Beatty shot Reds over a period of an entire year — between August 1979 and August 1980.”

    Most likely Beatty was in Helsinki at that time. Southern Finland’s snowy Winter is not that long, so all the exterior Russian scenes as well as the Finland bits must have been shot between November 1979-February 1980.

  • Akumax


    “It’s definitely that moment in the Oscar race where people feel like they have to cheat to win”

    How’s that is cheating? first, it’s not a horse race. Secondly it is a pretty big mistake and it is right to point it out. To accuse people of cheating because the say something true is pretty unfair.

    “A classy person would have simply sent an email to Tony Kushner but no, it’s Oscar season”

    Come on, you have a blog on the internet and write publicly about movies every day… now you are all for sending a private email to the screenwriter?! … ya, right.


    In my opinion that comparison between the scene in Argo and the mistake in Lincoln is just preposterous and makes no sense at all. One it’s an historical fact in an historical film, the other is a comedy scene which is meant to make the lie so big and clear to make you smile!

  • Zooey

    @ Jack Traven,

    just a little correction: it’s over in 12 days. Then we can say for sure it’s over.

  • steve50

    Good lord – I have to wake up to this again.

    Anybody – and I mean anybody – who expects 100% historical accuracy from a Hollywood rendition of an actual event is a fool. To go one step further, anybody who holds a filmmakers feet to the fire and makes an issue of a subjective take on history is an even bigger fool.

    There is not a movie that has been made – in any counry – based on real events, that has not played fast and loose with the actual facts. This started with Birth of a Nation, every single biopic of the 30s and 40s, the WWII dramas of the late 40s and 50s, right on through the modern epics we revere today. Even documentaries are subjective, to a point – whoever is holding the camera is showing what they want to show to propel their version of the story to the conclusion that is within their own point of view. To believe otherwise is delusional.

    And it’s not just movies. All art forms do the same thing – from Shakespeare to modern historical fiction, facts are adjusted to represent the authors conclusions and to accent dramatic effect. The last historical story that was remotely balanced was probably Homer’s The Iliad.

    All of a sudden, this is important? Every fact-based Oscar nominee this year has come under incredible and unjust fire. Why? Is it to protect the virginal minds of an audience that survives on a diet of bullshit that is spewed from their televisions on a daily basis? Or is it just part the business of accumulating the most little statues at the end of February? It’s a tempest in a teapot and everyone from politicians to ivory tower do-gooders to TV doctors have gotten in on the act.

    If one insists on picking a side over appreciating the artistry of these films, go for it and enjoy the game. Just realize that, in the long run, your cause is empty, without merit or meaning.

    If historical inaccuracies keep you awake at night, if you fear Lincoln damages the reputation of your state or Zero Dark Thirty besmirches your pristine standing on the international stage or Django overuses the “n” word that was common language at the time, or Silver Linings Playbook glorifies the joys of mental illness the solution is simple: You can’t change anything. They are movies – entertainments, fiction, as make-belive as the game of cowboys and indians you played in your backyard as a kid.

    And if you happen to be an AMPAS voter, maybe you’ll feel better about yourself if simply vote for Amour or Life of Pi. But you should never expect another person’s take on a story to exactly match either your own or the historical record. Time to grow up a little, I think.

  • phineas

    wow, Lincoln is agonizingly boring and not even historically correct.
    What a scandal! 😉
    There it goes away, the Oscar for screenplay, … but wait, maybe Holly wood hates Connecti cut and therefore vote for Lincoln.

  • I liked Lincoln a lot; a deserving best picture contender. But it’s Spielbergian.

    “I liked Goodfellas a lot; a deserving best picture contender. But it’s Scorsese-ian.”

    “I liked The Godfather: Part III a lot; a deserving best picture contender. But it’s Coppollian.”

    Hmmm… Yeah, I tried, but couldn’t make sense of that guy’s last sentence.

    A pretty good film and a deserving Oscar nominee is marred by the fact that it is directed by Spielberg?

    Then Sasha and Ryan are criticized for criticizing idiotic remarks like those in their own site. Go figure.

  • Pete

    The disconnect runs fast and furious. Let’s see what some bloggers have argued about the BP race. 1. Lincoln was hurt by Bill Clinton’s intro at the Golden Globes, because goodness knows how much Hollywood loathed the popular two term President. 2. ZDT was deep sixed by meddling Democratic Senators complaining about torture (ironically after Republican Senators demanded hearings with the filmmakers over their script). 3. However, a congressman demands a retraction in the Lincoln script and suddenly such political insertion into the Oscar race is appropriate?

    Part of me really hopes that Beasts snakes one of the major awards just to teach everyone a lesson

  • filmboymichael

    I think it’s is fairly safe to say that all of the fact based movies in this year’s line up use dramatic license in order to propel the story. Hell, Argo has realllllly stretched the US’s involvement in what was essentially a Canadian story with support from the US.

    Facts always, ALWAYS take a backseat to compelling filmmaking.

  • steve50

    Yes to the Argo statement, filmboymichael. The fact is, to most reasoning individuals like ourselves, it is forgiveable. It’s a movie! It’s expected.

    Pete – I like the Beasts sentiment and its snatching one of the majors would make a statement. Of course, it, too, was attacked for being “poverty porn.” Nothing seems to be beyond reach this year – not even that poetic little gem.

  • Sonja

    We’re only about two weeks away from the Oscar ceremony and nearly everyone campaigns hard for his favorite or against the threat, even with “dirty” tricks.
    The question is how voters react to those things? In a fair world they won’t give a sh*t about thse campaigns and just vote for what they really like.
    But this world is not fair, so….

    I still think Licoln is like the perfect movie made for Oscars.
    It’s somehow bizarre where it suddenly stands after all these months….

  • All the other historical “errors” in Lincoln have been widely discussed. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/22/what-s-true-and-false-in-lincoln-movie.html It’s only with campaigning that this has gotten vicious and noisy. It’s been ugly out there for months as various cliques have done their best to tear down the contenders rather than just promote and praise their particular favorite. Lincoln has gotten off easy with just charges of “boring” and now two probable errors for dramatic effect (Mary Todd Lincoln probably wasn’t sitting in the visitors gallery). You should hear the caterwauling over Les Mis. You would think the cast had committed mass murder.

  • filmboymichael

    I will say this though in the case of Lincoln vs. Argo, is that the historical inaccuracy surrounding Argo came front and centre before it’s theatrical release and the producers, including Affleck were able to spin it as this movie is more about entertainment and shouldn’t be taken as a history lesson; and quickly added the footnote about Canada’s involvement before its release.

    I can understand – although I do question the intention – that someone would come forward and clarify something so entrenched in American history. The fact that people are seeing Lincoln as a filmed history lesson, regardless of whether or not it is clear how Connecticut voted, shouldn’t necessarily view it as such.

    And, as far as chalking it up to a simple mistake, I think the argument could be made that a simple google check of ‘which states voted for the 13th ammendment’ could have avoided this mistake, no?

  • Winston

    Gustavo-Tending to oversentimentalize and overdramatize. Not too difficult. I like his films but he has a definable tendency that came out in Lincoln yet again. That’s all.

  • rufussondheim

    When I watched the movie, I can definitely recall my reaction at the Connecticut moment. I must say I was a little surprised, not because I’m an expert on Connecticut history or anything, it’s just that Connecticut is such a progressive state currently and I thought it interesting that they were not back in the time of the Civil War.

    Needless to say, when reading Team of Rivals, she makes it abundantly clear that New England as a whole was very much anti-slaver. She makes the point, several times, that the more north a state was, the more anti-slavery it was.

    With that said, it’s unfortunate the Connecticut error was made, and I don’t think it’s wrong for a Connecticut politician to note the error.

    But if anyone thinks this will change the Oscar Race, they’re just silly.

  • rufussondheim

    Winston, there was a whole scene detailing that the US Senate was going to vote for the Amendment as it was dominated by Republicans. Also most of the states of the union were dominated by the Republicans and that passing the states shouildn’t have been a problem (This should be obvious since the states elected the US Senators at that time.

    The film very clearly states that they needed only 18 votes or so to switch in the House. I can’t recall if they were all Democratic or not.

    But the film is very clear on what needed to happen, and your statement that the film make it look harder than it actually was is quite false indeed.

  • TOM

    Next up, Affleck, Clooney & company will be trolling out Sen. John Kerry (who Ben passionately tried to ignite the younger voters to), will be trolled out to lambast more Lincoln inaccuraties.
    If this crowd already has the BP surge, does highlighting the Lincoln wrongs seem like their underhanded way to go after the Adapted Screenplay award (which soft-headed voters might think was ‘penned’ by the award winning actor/screenwriter?
    Since Argo seems to herald itself as so historically accurate – here’s 1 blooper that really stuck out for me. Since the majority of the film occurs during the Jan. 1980 hostage crisis – at one point the soundtrack blares out Little T&A by The Rolling Stones. I was snapped out of reality, since that song was on Tattoo You – released on August 30, 1981 — almost a year and a half after the story ends.
    As for the Robert DeNiro/Couric sobfest — gain more points? That resembled the most blatant display of crocodile tears imaginable. Shame on you, RdN and TWC.

  • In my opinion that comparison between the scene in Argo and the mistake in Lincoln is just preposterous and makes no sense at all. One it’s an historical fact in an historical film, the other is a comedy scene which is meant to make the lie so big and clear to make you smile!

    It didn’t make me smile. It made me roll my eyes. And it reminded me right there in the theater on first viewing that the Argo was exaggerated fiction made up of scene after scene of careless falsehoods strung together for comedic and jacked-up suspenseful effect.

    It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but it reminded me — in the moment — that nothing I was seeing was real. And for me that defeats a large part of the purpose of trying to recreate the era in such meticulous detail. You can show me 100 touch-tone phones with curly handset cords in retro colors of Avocado and Harvest Gold, but all that period detail is for naught if you think you can trick me into believing the most celebrated filmmaker in Hollywood in 1980 would stoop to star any piece of poop called Zulu Empire.

    yes, Akumax, the scene was written for comedic effect. And Lincoln’s scenes in Congress were written for dramatic effect. Both films use poetic license to elide some of the actual factual details in order to compress and amplify points being made in a way that can easily processed by audiences for maximum comedic and dramatic effect.

    But I’m tellin’ ya plain as I can say — the dumb lie in Argo took me out of the movie. While the “error” in Lincoln slipped right past me and I did not notice it all. (And yes, I do consider the Argo falsehood to be a glaring lie, and I do see the incorrect detail in Lincoln as a calculated “error” employed to emphasize a composite characterization).

    On first viewing of Argo, the very instant Lester Siegel says Beatty had signed on to make Zulu Empire, my bullshit alarm went off. No way in hell would Beatty be making a turd like Zulu Empire 8 months after being nominated for 4 Oscars and a year before winning the Oscar for Best Director.

    On second viewing, the ruined moment got even worse. I realized that production on Reds must have been in full swing in 1980, and since it’s one of my favorite films of the 80s I found it offensive that Warren Beatty was being dragged through a dumb scene and used as punchline between two onscreen hacks in Argo.

    And while we’re on the subject of offensive, how cute of Chris Terrio to find a way to include black people in his movie — by ridiculing them as savages and cannibals. I guess Terrio decided the word ‘Zulu’ was a far funnier way to bring black people into Argo than to have Lester Siegel spout some stupid line about ‘Shvartzes.’

    Congressman Courtney gets to say what bugged him. I get to say what bugged me. You get to decide what’s important to you.

    If I’ve succeeded in fucking up anybody’s concentration during future viewings of that crude careless Zulu joke, then good. My work here is done.

    Chris Terrio is saying: “haha, oh black people of Africa, you’re so ridiculous with your cannibalism and your savage desire for unionized health care benefits! ahaha. And screw you, Warren Beatty, and screw your Best Director Oscar for Reds. nah, dude, I’m attaching you to some shitty thing called Zulu Empire.” Ugh, What a coarse, stupidly written scene.

  • Robert A.

    “I still think Licoln is like the perfect movie made for Oscars.
    It’s somehow bizarre where it suddenly stands after all these months….”

    It is the perfect movie for Oscars…from the 1980s. I think it’s very possible that if Lincoln had been made 30 years ago, it would be cleaning up right now. Over the past 9-10 years, though, AMPAS has seemed a little less receptive to the stately historical “epic” that’s good for you, the kind of movie that used to win Oscars so handily (although Lincoln is too interior to really be considered epic).

    Of course, that doesn’t explain The King’s Speech!

  • Tero, thanks! I thought of Finland last night too. But I decided to go with the image of Beatty busy flying around to “half a dozen countries” instead of getting specific. I wrote it the way I wrote to maximize the comedic and dramatic effect of my rant. As one does.

  • Marie


    It was a tight race even with all the republicans backing the vote…Here’s a CNN article that states that even with the error, the film pretty much gets it right. http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/07/showbiz/lincoln-error/index.html

    Also, people need to remember that the Civil War radicalized many fence-sitting conservative republicans. Without the war or after the war, they may not have been so pro-abolitionism…they may have remained free-soil gradual emancipationists who supported the proclamation only applicable to Southern states until it was challenged by the courts. Lincoln had no way of knowing exactly when the war would end..If it ended in late February for example, it would end without an amendment and with no war necessity to back it up. Also, the people who pass an amendment aren’t the ones who ratify it–states legislatures and conventions do this. The reason I think the peace conference is included in the film is that it shows Lincoln equipped with an amendment on its way to ratification by most northern states and three southern states (including Louisanna which had been denied congressional representation over emancipation and civil rights issues). This might not have been possible if he had waited until March to just let a mostly republican congress pass it..(the complete lack of bipartisan support might have been an issue in selling it to more conservative northerners as well). Ironically, the first state to ratify the amendment was Illinois which was a pretty conservative and racist northern state.) Obviously, slavery was dying but it needed to be officially put to death or the status of black people (especially in northern slave states like Kentucky which refused to ratify the amendment) would have been up in the air. The war and black contributions crippled slavery, but a crippled institution can still limp around on its last leg and cause a great deal of trouble.

    BTW, those people who act like the film somehow depicts Lincoln as being the primary mover behind the amendment aren’t paying attention. He jumps on board relatively late..in 1865 when the film starts. Even though Lincoln publically supported it in 64, he never got this involved until 65. Obviously, the movie implies that several people had gotten involved in creating the amendment and attempting to ram it through. It failed because of the lack of support from the president. It would have passed eventually without him maybe…but would it have been ratified and accepted as easily and in such a timely way without the presidents’ support and help (and his tying it to war necessity)?.., I don’t think so.

  • Robert A.

    Wouldn’t it be hysterical if Harvey was really behind Connecticutgate–then he can smear the film of his old nemesis Spielberg while having the frontrunner Argo get the blame for dirty pool!

    Well played, Harvey, well played.

  • Terometer

    Team Lincoln fire back: Argo is a Lie.

    I bet more and more people would turn away from Lincoln from now on.
    Good job! haha.

  • rufussondheim

    Marie – “The war and black contributions crippled slavery, but a crippled institution can still limp around on its last leg and cause a great deal of trouble.”

    As we’ve learned from watching all of the Friday the 13th sequels!

    Ryan, I often marvel at your writing ability, but you outdid yourself here…

    “But I decided to go with the image of Beatty busy flying around to “half a dozen countries” instead of getting specific. I wrote it the way I wrote to maximize the comedic and dramatic effect of my rant. As one does.”

    The “as one does” is a great add-on there. It gives emphasis to what you already have said, but, more importantly, it amplifies the laugh you’ve given in the previous sentence. And it’s just three words. And if you sound out those three words, you have to slow down and put emphasis on each word, making it even more funny.

    It’s my “joy of the day” when it comes to rhetorical things.

  • Adrian2nano

    I for one don’t care I feel Argo is a way superior film

  • rufussondheim, thanks for that. You and I have been on opposite sides of the fence about a couple of important movies this year, but I have equal respect for the elegant way you make your case in every comment you craft.

    As all this relates to screenwriting: writers use rhetorical devices. That’s part of a writer’s toolbox. It’s unlikely that Tony Kushner accidentally bungled the Connecticut congressmen detail in a script he honed for 6 years. And Chris Terrio has constructed a script as tight as Tiffany’s butt. (I would have cited the tight rear-end of a female character from Argo, if there were any).

    (j/k! I know, I know, the Housekeeper!)

  • Marie

    I also wanted to point out that conservative republicans and radical republicans disagreed as late 1864 about the ways in which emancipation should take place. Two Northern slave states (missouri and Maryland) had been taken over by republicans. Both states were having local elections and working on state constitutions to free their slaves (probably a necessity after Lincoln signed the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law). ANyhow, the conservatives were still supporting gradual emancipation and financial compensation (and backing candidates who believed that), the radicals backed candidates who believed in immediate abolition. Lincoln stayed neutral, claiming that he worried about destitution (for both blacks and whites) resulting from immediate emancipation but was willing to back immediate adolitionism anyway because slavery needed to end… As a result, he didn’t back the conservative candidates some of his allies wanted him to..This was in team of rivals.

    Like I said, not all anti-slavery northerners were abolitionists (if war necessity wasn’t connected to the issue.)

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I was just wondering what to watch on Blu-ray tonight. Solved.


  • Watermelons

    I can’t think of a reason for a politician to be publicly protective of local history other than to influence the Oscars. I also cannot understand why a politician would issue a letter about local pride through a local newspaper rather than through an e-mail to Tony Kushner.

  • rufussondheim

    Fuck you, Ryan, I have no elegance!

    But you bring up a certain point that should be stressed. We all come here for our own reasons, I like to think that those reasons center around our love of film. I, probably naively, believe that the Oscars and all of this awards nonsense is just a way for us to discuss our love of film. At least I can say that for the core group that sticks it out here year round.

    Most of that core group is pretty respectful to others in that group and I find that refreshing. It’s been said before, there’s no need to trash someone because they like a film you don’t care for. If you want to trash the film, go ahead, but do it sincerely and there’s no need to trash people for liking a certain film. Sure, we’re all guilty of crossing the line, but it’s the quickness that one crosses back that should be judged.

    But right now, I don’t see much love of film discussed here in the comments section, it’s all about the awards. And while they do matter and have a big effect on what films get made and what films do not, I still prefer to celebrate the films, and not the awards themselves.

    Here’s to a quick two weeks and hopefully some of these February and March releases will be good enough to keep us interested until April, when Robopocalypse comes out and we can have a whole new round of Spielberg bashing 🙂

    Qucikly followed by a round of Luhrmann bashing 🙂

  • I agree that many, like I, would not notice one way or another which way the state of Connecticut voted. However, people from Connecticut WOULD notice, and although it’s not important to most of us, I have a feeling it might be meaningful to them as a state. I feel you as an Oscar blogger, but you are getting more upset about this than most because you’re pulling for ‘Lincoln’. In the big picture, very few people actually care what the Representative from Connecticut has to say. Hell, nearly EVERY Best Picture Nominee (Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained) has been met with controversy this season. When Spike Lee came out and said that he refused to see ‘Django Unchained’, no one said “He’s cheating!” He, as a veteran filmmaker, was giving his opinion of Tarantino’s film. It’s only through the lens of “Everyone is trying to keep ‘Lincoln’ from winning…” that this even appears to be foul play, and I think that perspective is totally untrue.

    The President himself said the movie was incredible, after a private screening with Spielberg and DDL! Any conspiracy against it is totally imagined.

    Also, is it cheating if the mistake is real? Aren’t citizens of Connecticut entitled to look up history for themselves and see if the story is true? To me, these people have every right to point out a historical error when they see one.

  • Jason B

    I don’t see why people are painting the CT congressman of making a big deal out of it. The amount of effort (which should have been fact checked by the production) seems to have been no more than an hour perhaps on a Saturday night after he saw the movie.

    I mean, are people politicizing the Oscars so much that any attack on Lincoln is seen as politics? Kushner and Spielberg made a mistake, one that accidentally tarnishes an anti-slave state as being 50/50 on the issue.

    Spielberg should apologize to Connecticut or perhaps show evidence that Connecticut struggled with the issue privately, and the only way to achieve a consolidation of those facts was a factual cheat to dramatize the real debate that was had within the state.

  • PJ

    I don’t get how factual errors in Lincoln is some sort of breaking news. I mean, they got Lincoln on a fetal position on his deathbed when everyone and their mother knows he was lying diagonally. Just basic history stuff.

    Same issues that I brought up with Zero Dark Thirty, if you portend to be based on facts then you had better be showing just the facts.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Yo this is outrageous. Can ya’ll picture Ben Affleck making the call to his buddy the second-rate politician? Despicable.

  • Akumax

    “Congressman Courtney gets to say what bugged him. I get to say what bugged me. You get to decide what’s important to you.”

    Yes, thanks, but it is not what is important here in my opinion, they are two different things.

    1. Subjective: that scene in Argo took you out of the movie for how it was written. Not me, or that many others I believe.

    Anyway, Argo is great because it is able to melt together two of the best fictional tools of entertainment (comedy and suspense) with a reconstruction of historical events. The key to read the whole film is in the opening sequence where Affleck mixes storyboards (how you build visually a fictional story in movies) and real footage and detailed reconstruction (documentary, report of real events while they happen).
    You didn’t like that mix, the very essence of Argo, that is your subjective experience of the movie and I respect that.

    2. Objective: In Lincoln the vote of connecticut is wrongly placed. An historical mistake that probably didn’t took anybody out of the movie but remains an historical mistake. That doesn’t make Lincoln better or worse cinematically or narratively speaking, only less accurate historically. A congressman or anybody is entitled to point out a mistake like that and I don’t get why he has to be called names and accused of negative campaign against Lincoln. By the way he prized the film itself!

    So, two very different things compared for the sake of this war that has to be built in order to push one movie against the other. War that I don’t understand or like and that doesn’t make cinema better at the end of the day.

  • Akumax

    “Yo this is outrageous. Can ya’ll picture Ben Affleck making the call to his buddy the second-rate politician? Despicable.”

    see! This is so stupid…Now is Ben Affleck evil creature attacking Lincoln in the dark… just STUPID! I better go to the movies and let you speculate this none sense.

  • alan of montreal

    it’s times like these when I wish a movie like Wreck-It-Ralph was nominated for best pic so I could get behind that and drown out all the other noise. I’m beginning to think that L’Amour might actually take it now. What’s political about an old French lady with Alzheimer’s? Wait, don’t answer that…

  • Terometer

    “Can ya’ll picture Ben Affleck making the call to his buddy the second-rate politician? Despicable.”

    Can ya’ll picture Steven Spielberg making the call to Bill Clinton the former wife-cheating president? Despicable.

  • Andrew

    Im finding I am spending less than half the time here than I usually do at this stage of the race….

    The Lincoln cheerleading has become almost unbearable

  • JamDenTel

    My issues with ARGO are not that it fudges the facts, but that the ways in which it fudges the facts are so transparent. (SPOILERS) The runway chase, or Siegel and Chambers being held up by some random film shoot, are both such blatant attempts to milk suspense that it’s kind of laughable. (END SPOILERS)

    I also don’t think ARGO is anything more than a decent thriller that somehow got people gushing over it. For that matter, I think LINCOLN isn’t that great either…it smacks of playing it safe, of watering itself down. I can totally understand why they would do that…but it does not a great film make.

  • steve50

    “Quickly followed by a round of Luhrmann bashing”

    Avenging Fitzgerald – yippee! *claps madly*

    None of this type of controversy would occur if these films came in a plastic tub labeled “I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-History”. Movies about historical events are as real as Cool Whip – they are petroleum product recreations meant to taste simlar to the real thing.

  • I applaud Marie’s excellent posts regarding the Lincoln movie and its historical background, as well as her link to the CNN article which confirms what most of we students of Lincoln know – that, overall, give or take a few factoids, Lincoln is a very historically accurate film.

    My view is – and I think Ryan Adams stated as much – that the representation of the Connecticut Congressional delegation in the movie as being split over the 13th amendment was not a mistake but dramatic license. I don’t know what Tony Kushner’s intention was, other than perhaps to create more tension. But this little blip – whether a mistake or intentional – is qualitatively different from Argo’s almost complete misrepresentation of the story of the half-dozen Americans who were the subject of the film. The Americans apparently had a nice time, rather than a panic-stricken one, at the Canadian embassy, and were able to exit the country fairly smoothly. But if Argo had been accurate, there would have been no, or little, suspense, and then you wouldn’t have had a movie. Ideally, Argo would have been marketed as a film *very* loosely based on historical fact. However, it was not marketed that way.

    Regardless of the merits of the Connecticut Congressman’s criticism of the Lincoln movie, there is no question in my mind that his very public complaint was strategically timed. The fact that the Oscar ballots are just about to go out is no coincidence. I don’t necessarily think that Ben Affleck personally reached out to the Congressman, but I’ll bet anything that his “people” did.

    By the way, this is very different from Spielberg having Clinton introduce the Lincoln movie at the Golden Globes. Clinton said nothing negative about any other film in contention that night. All he did was praise Lincoln. So Spielberg used his political influence to prop up his movie, yes, but not to malign another movie. Also, the timing of Clinton’s appearance didn’t seem to have any strategic value. The Oscar nominations had already come out, but voting was almost a month away.

  • Mac

    It is lame that an Affleck supporter, a Congressman, is campaigning against Lincoln.

    As time goes on, Lincoln will be held in higher esteem than Argo. Argo is on the high end of political thrillers, although not nearly as good as The Manchurian Candidate, All the President’s Men, or The Conversation. It is well made, and a lot of fun, but the quality just isn’t as good as those films. Oh yeah, and Lincoln. Licoln is a better political thriller than Argo.

    But Argo will Best Picture because it appeals to the industry, was made by an actor (garnering the support of his fellow colleagues), offers up nostalgia to most members’ heyday, and is all around inoffensive.

    At least Lincoln and Life of Pi offered up a lot more than Argo.

  • rufussondheim

    Didn’t Shakespeare write a play about all of this? Was it Hamlet? Romeo and Juliet? Twelfth Night?

    Nope. Much Ado About Nothing. And for those of you not into Shakespeare, it was a 1993 movie with Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Kenneth Branagh among other people.

  • Winston

    @Marie-I’m in no way minimizing how hard it was to get a two third majority. Getting the amendment passed by that margin in the House was a legitimate challenge. But I do think that the film exaggerated the extent of opposition. It ultimately passed both branches of congress by two thirds and was ratified by the states. Lincoln had a great sense of the practical and the limits of a president in a representative form of government. He was not going to ram something down the nation’s throat against massive opposition.

  • Jerry

    “In a statement to the Hartford Courant, Courtney recommended the movie, saying that the portrayals of major characters was brilliant. ”
    He liked the movie, recommends it, praises the performances but takes umbrage at his anti-slavery state being falsely depicted on their 13th Ammendment vote. If I were from his state I would feel the same. It’s an important principal as depicted in the film. His timing might be questionable but not his objection. To be fair none of the filmmakers would have taken an email from him seriously since he is a no-name lowly Rep. You sometimes have to shout to be heard if you aren’t one of the famous people. As a politician he is probably doing this to get votes in the future not help some Hollywood actor.

  • TOM

    The notion that Affleck would drum up this second-rate Congressman seems very plausible to me and I wouldn’t put it past him. So, Lincoln was released in mid-November (after the election)…and, NOW, almost 3 months later, this guy highlights the CT error???? This week…just as the final Oscar ballots are mailed out on Friday? Great timing to add a tint to anything-Lincoln-Spielberg connected.

  • victor joesph fazekas

    my great great great grandfather voted for the 13th 14th 15th adment against his party the democrates his portiat telling this at yale law school politics will only begining on this movie if politicains are listening to my phone calls which they all have been so far the movie about my great uncle fammilly robert s.s. whitemen great grandson on robert guild shaw wich a small movie called golry was about the company and told bye his veiw point in the movie about the first affercain american civil war company that actully fought in the war and my 3g grandfather was a rep at this time and freinds with lincon from CT. and Mr.Ashly from illoniose

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