This week's column is based on a true story. Did I get your attention? Why is it that all the awards organizations love true stories so much? So many of this year's award contenders are based on true stories: Public Enemies, The Damned United, A Woman in Berlin, Julie and Julia (229 screens), Coco Before Chanel (145 screens), Amelia (1975 screens), Bright Star (25 screens) and even The Informant! (62 screens), as well as up-and-coming contenders like Invictus and The Young Victoria. And even if they're not specifically "true" stories, we have movies like The Last Station, about a real-life person, or movies like Brothers and The Messenger with torn-from-the-headlines plots.
It's getting so bad that, while watching it, I was even wondering whether Up in the Air was based on a true story. And certainly Precious seems based on a true story, even though it's very clearly "based on the novel PUSH by Sapphire." But why do we need this? Is it a cushion? What happens if we're exposed to pure imagination for a change? Would Star Trek have been better if it had been based a true story? What about Up? Could those balloons have really hauled that house halfway around the world? Probably not, but nobody questioned it for a second, and it doesn't matter.