I predicted there'd be a Zero Dark Thirty backlash, and many believe Kathryn Bigelow's failure to get a Best Director nomination from the Academy is part of it. It certainly seems possible, especially now that politically involved character actor David Clennon has publicly stated he opposes Zero Dark Thirty winning any Oscars:
...I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category. I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”
The usual suspects, such as Martin Sheen and Ed Asner, have joined in, saying Academy members should vote their conscience for the upcoming awards.
I believe they're misreading the film, and hold a simplistic view of its implications, but apparently they want clarity and propaganda, not ambiguity and art. (I also believe they've got foolish politics that would lead to less respect for human rights, but that's a separate issue. Or is it? See below.)
Nevertheless, there you have it. Films are to be judged by their (perceived) message above any aesthetic criteria. This is ugly. It's really a form of blacklisting, where rather than have an open debate you punish people directly (or indirectly) for their politics and the politics of their art.
I have to ask Clennon, and Sheen and Asner: are you so confident in your politics that not only are you convinced you must be right and others are wrong, and you can read works of art better than others, but also that you'll always have views popular enough that you have nothing to fear?