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An Oscar statue is seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the 85th Academy Awards nominee announcements in Beverly Hills, California January 10, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
History is alive and kicking at this year's Oscars in an unusually rich year for movies that plumb the distant and recent American past and have resonated with both audiences and voters.
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Four of the nine Best Picture nominees at Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony - Iran hostage drama "Argo," Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty," slavery revenge fantasy "Django Unchained" and US presidential drama "Lincoln" - are the most discussed films of the awards season, with their very different takes on historical events.
"It's an interesting year for thought-provoking movies that have a semblance of reality. Some look to where we come from and where we are going, and they get people thinking," said Pete Hammond, awards columnist for entertainment industry website Deadline.com.
It's a sharp contrast with 2012 when the silent film comedy "The Artist" was embraced by the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a love letter to old Hollywood.
This time, terrorism, slavery, war, politics and the CIA take center stage in films that try to make sense of calamitous times for the United States and draw lessons for the future.
"Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's account of President Abraham Lincoln's drive to persuade a divided Congress to abolish slavery in 1865, has spoken loudly to present day Americans faced with daily evidence of political deadlock in Washington.
"The movie emphasizes the theme of how difficult it is to get anything done in a democratic republic like ours, and how it requires wheeling and dealing and negotiating," said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University.