Inside jobs: Six Oscar contenders on the inner journey

America, according to a recent "Newsweek" cover story, has turned inward.The article points to Americans' disinterest in foreign policy (only 3% in a poll think Afghanistan might be worth worrying about) to make its argument, but had the story come out after the election, it might also have noted the voter apathy, Tea Partiers notwithstanding, that resulted in 45 million fewer ballots being cast in the 2010 Congressional races than in 2008.

But just in case further proof is needed, take a look at what's playing in the movie theaters. In particular those films being touted as Oscar favorites. It's a strong list of contenders, no doubt, but you'd have to admit that navel gazing dominates this year aspirants, especially when compared to the more outwardly engaged Best Picture winners of previous years such as  "The Hurt Locker" (2009)  and "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008).

So here are six hopefuls looking inward for that Oscar Gold.


On the one hand, it is one of the best movies of the year. On the other hand, its celebration of the innocence and imagination of childhood doesn't do much thinking outside the (toy) box


A masterpiece of subjective point of view, a solipsistic nightmare, and a showcase of mirrors that never escapes from the disintegrating mind of its protagonist.



All alone, trapped under a boulder in Utah slot canyon  with no resources except for a camcorder, a dull knife, and your own urine. It's kind of like "Black Swan" for rock climbers.


Remember "Network" (1976), in which the crass, cynical vulgarians who wanted to debase the news into vapid entertainment were the bad guys? Nowadays they are the heroes, whose victory includes reducing a veteran newsman into a buffoon.


 Half a billion souls, untold billions of dollars, all reduced to the petty vindictiveness of one lonely man.


The ultimate inward journey: death.

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