What Oscar Says About America

Many of this year's top movies portray dark themes or flawed characters. One culture watcher says they mirror this moment in history where anti-heroes are the more common stock.

Film critic Neal Gabler says: "There seems to be something more that is influencing the darkness on the Big Screen this year than grim unemployment numbers and record housing foreclosures. It may be a deeper sense of discontent. Even in the depths of the Depression, most Americans felt that happy days would be here again—eventually. This was still America, after all: the greatest country in the world. Now that sort of confidence has been shaken. It is much harder to believe in American exceptionalism when the country has been riven by political conflict and paralysis. There is a sense that we are at the end of our 'empire.'"

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