Editor's Note: This article has been corrected. If the last few years have taught us anything about the Oscars, it's that the Academy loves a glamorous actress in an unglamorous role. There was Hillary Swank's reverse drag act in 1999, Julia Robert's white-trash beauty queen in 2000, Halle Berry's inmate's widow in 2001, and Nicole Kidman's Pinocchio act in 2002.
Hollywood and politics have been going together for a long time. Kevin Brownlow showed in Behind the Mask of Innocence that political comment in American films began much earlier than is generally thought. But Hollywood figures as political activists themselves— that phenomenon began, I'd guess, in the 1930s.