UNDATED (CBS) - The Oscars are just a few days away, but three "Best Picture" nominees face controversy because of historical inaccuracies.
President Lincoln's struggle to persuade, inspire and outright strong-arm enough members of Congress to approve the 13th Amendment to ban slavery. But Lincoln had more votes than the filmmakers let on. In the movie, two Connecticut representatives voted NAY on the amendment. In fact, 148 years ago, the Connecticut delegation voted for it. Rep. Joe Courtney says, "We're talking about slavery here. This is not a vote about approving a highway project."
Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney said the inaccuracy denigrated his state. He says, "Somebody who respects artistic license - what I still can't believe is being overlooked, is a vote is not dialog between characters in the movie. A vote is an event."
Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner admitted to changing two of Connecticut's votes to "clarify... that the 13th Amendment passed by a narrow margin." He added: "I hope nobody is shocked to learn that I also made up dialogue... imagined encounters and invented characters."
That's Hollywood; and in fact Lincoln's revisions are minor compared with two other best picture nominees.
Argo's most dramatic scenes never happened including the daring escape attempt from Iran. And then there's this year's most controversial nominee Zero Dark Thirty about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Senior members of Congress have complained that scenes showing torture to get intelligence never happened. New York Times Film Critic A.O. Scott says, "Hollywood is known not as the truth factory but the dream factory." He continues to say, "People who criticize these movies tend to think the audiences will be fooled. I think the opposite seems to be more of the case and the people who go to the movies think that, even if it is true, even if it is reality, even if it is a documentary, it really is just a movie."
And when it comes to voting for Best Picture, Scott says inaccuracy "or creative license" as Hollywood would call it, didn't hurt previous winner from Gladiator to the movie considered the biggest whopper of them all: Shakespeare in Love. Scott says, "I think that it is when historical accuracy is attached to political controversy that it matters."
The political controversy that has almost engulfed Zero Dark Thirty is why some critics think the movie won't win Best Picture. Lincoln, they say is different; the filmmakers went out of their way to get it right by making several trips to Washington, working with a team of historians and even recording and incorporating original sounds from 1865 into the movie.