With the recent shootings in Aurora, Oak Creek and Newtown, the debate over gun violence has been reignited. But before those tragedies, there was the 1999 shooting in Columbine, where 15 people died. Michael Moore directed the documentary "Bowling for Columbine," which took a hard look at the gun culture in America and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
"Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005)
Before Affleck got his taste for directing, it was actor-turned-director George Clooney who was receiving praise for his work behind the camera. With Clooney as director, this 2005 film -- nominated for six Oscars -- tells the true story of journalistic icon Edward R. Murrow in his battle against Sen. Joseph McCarthy during McCarthy's red scare. McCarthy was a senator who wanted to root out what he suspected as communist elements in the U.S. Murrow was one of the most visible TV journalists to stand up to McCarthy and his tactics, and he represented the beliefs of those who felt McCarthy was on a political witch hunt. Recently, some Democrats compared Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz to McCarthy for his unsubstantiated claims that defense secretary nominee Hagel had received money from Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
Before 9/11, many Americans weren't typically interested in politics abroad. But after that tragic event and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, everything changed. The 2005 film "Syriana" -- which won Clooney a Best Supporting Actor award and was nominated for another Oscar -- was a gripping political thriller based around the No. 1 currency in the world: oil.
Richard Nixon's term as president has been great fodder for Hollywood. Maybe it's the jowls. Or maybe it's the fact that someone so powerful could have fallen so far. In "Frost/Nixon," nominated for five Oscars, Frank Langella plays Nixon after he resigned from the presidency. Langella squares off against talk-show host David Frost, played by Michael Sheen, and reveals Nixon at his most cunning and vulnerable.
Harvey Milk was California's first openly gay elected official, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Sean Penn plays Milk in this Gus Van Sant film about the late gay rights advocate and leading figure in the LGBT movement. The movie won two Oscars and was nominated for another six.