Anyone who has ever watched the Academy Awards® knows that the awards are not given to the most popular films that young people like (with a few exceptions like The Lord of the Rings trilogy). For the most part, the members of the Academy nominate and vote for serious, more high-brow films like the silent black and white film The Artist or The King’s Speech that have more appeal to older filmgoers (I loved them, but I’m older too). If the Academy voters were to consider films as Best Picture nominees that teens really enjoyed that were based on books, then The Twilight Saga, the Harry Potter series, or this year’s The Hunger Games or The Perks of Being a Wallflower would have been selected.
While it’s true that many films nominated for this Sunday’s Academy Awards® are based on books, most are published for adults, not young adults. That doesn’t mean that some of the many nominees based on adult books aren’t entirely without teen appeal. Argo is based on the book The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez. It was one of four films I saw last Saturday as part of AMC Theaters’s Best Picture Showcase 2013 Oscar® Nominees along with Amour, Les Miserables, and Django Unchained. In addition to being based on a preposterously unbelievable true story, Argo is suspenseful with a lot of humor that balances the tenseness of the plot.
It’s a lot of fun to watch, although I’d heard that parts are made up so it’s more of a docu-drama, as is Zero Dark Thirty. SLJ’s Extra Helping e-newsletter just had an interesting Connect-the-Pop blog post a few days ago by Peter Gutierrez. He interviewed media literacy educator Frank W. Baker about showing students Lincoln, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty to encourage them to think critically about how these films aren’t necessarily all true but portray a version of the truth.