Steve McQueen

The Best Picture Is a Sham

And '12 Years a Slave' will win it, for all the wrong reasons

12 Years a Slave is a great film, but that's not why it'll win Best Picture. It'll win so that the Academy can forgive itself for making no other good films about slavery for the last hundred years.

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On the highways where 55 mph prevails, where drivers must wear safety belts, not use a cell phone, not be intoxicated, must not be having sex with anyone in the front seat, must have a license, insurance, not to mention a parking spot, here we go with Rush (Ron Howard’s new film). In that one word, all the discipline is sucked out in the slipstream, and reckless excitement is worshipped yet again. Driving is as practical and mechanical as it should be, hedged in by legality, carbon footprints, staying one side of the road or another, and GPS.

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Islamabad Boys

On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

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Newsweek has a long and thorough profile of Obama's man in Afghanistan: At West Point, the younger McChrystal was "a troublemaker," he recalls. He often violated the drinking ban and got caught at it, walking hundreds of hours of punishment drills, pacing up and down a stone courtyard in full-dress uniform, carrying a rifle. As a senior, McChrystal organized a mock infantry attack on a school building, using real guns and rolled-up socks as grenades, and was nearly shot by the military police guarding the building.

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