academy awards

Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron appears among the odds-on favorites to take home a Best Director Oscar on Sunday for his space thriller “Gravity.” The 52-year-old Mexico City native, Cuaron gained fame for his 2001 film “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” an insightful look at Mexican youth struggling with class, prejudice and sexuality issues.

The Academy Awards’ “Best Picture” tells the story of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80. But, for all that it’s a movie about diplomats, it tells nothing of the men and women who represent the United States abroad, the challenges they face and how prepared – or ill prepared – they are to face those challenges, says Nicholas Kralev, an expert on international affairs and diplomacy and author of a new book, “America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy."

Argo won for Best Picture, of course, but in my view it merited an additional Oscar. And so did the far more controversial Zero Dark Thirty. Consider that Hollywood hands out awards for everything from “Sound Mixing” to “Best Picture”. But over the decades no Oscar category existed to honor movies for intellectual or political integrity. Perhaps that reflects, to be cynical, the recognition that in any given year there’d be too few nominees to fill out the category. But this year that was not the case. It was a banner year for Hollywood integrity.

Two Afghan teenagers -- Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz -- whose film 'Buzkashi Boys' was recently nominated at the Oscars, capturing the attention of Hollywood for their impressive acting, look up to Indian superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Sunny Deol as their idols.

Sunday night, Argo—the Ben Affleck film portraying the rescue of U.S. Embassy staffers from Iran—won best picture at the Oscars. Iran may have boycotted this years’ Academy Awards by pulling its film submission, but it certainly didn’t ignore Argo’s Oscar win. The biggest winner may have been U.S. public diplomacy efforts, given Argo’s recent underground popularity in Iran.

Unsuspectingly, Sunday night's Academy Awards turned into a kind of prism of global politics as Oscars were given out to Iranian and Pakistani films as well as to a film produced by a French director with French actors financed with French subsidies.