A Political Year at the Movies

November didn't mark the end of the political season. Hollywood hasn't handed out its Oscar nominations yet.

And when it comes to who wins that golden statuette, a film's politics often plays a supporting role to the movie's creative bona fides.

At first blush this doesn't seem to be an overly political year at the movies. After all, Michael Moore was silent in 2008 by his standards, releasing only one documentary for his Bush-hating brethren online.

Look closer. Among the Oscar favorites are: Milk, the biopic of the slain councilman and gay rights activist played by Sean Penn; Wall*E, a Pixar tale in which the earth has been reduced to a garbage dump thanks to rampant consumerism; Frost/Nixon, a retelling of the historic interview of the disgraced GOP president; and The Dark Knight, a film many conservatives felt embraced President George W. Bush's war on terror tactics.

What's a conservative movie doing lumped in with the rest? Well, likely losing to its lesser competition.

So far, the New York Film Critics Circle snubbed Knight in every major category. The National Board of Review did the same, although it did select Knight as one of the year's ten best movies.

The Golden Globe nominations also denied the Caped Crusader his just desserts, only throwing the film a single nomination for Best Supporting Actor -- the late Heath Ledger.

Both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Washington, D.C.-area Film Critics Association also gave its Best Supporting Actor prize to Ledger, but nothing more.

Yet it's arguably the best comic book film ever, a thoughtful thrill ride that touches on themes both current and universal. What more can a film do to win some Oscar love?

Other hopeful films will find their Oscar paths greased by political correctness. Penn's performance in Milk is certainly Oscar worthy, but his work comes on the heels of the Proposition 8 debate, which will only add to its luster.