A few weeks ago, Zero Dark Thirty seemed well on its way to capturing the Academy Award for best picture. It was winning early critic awards and gaining the kind of momentum a movie needs to win Hollywood's biggest prize.
Much was made about the authenticity of the film by director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who used insider access to tell the sweeping, meticulously detailed story of the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden.
Then last week, Zero Dark Thirty won five Academy Award nominations, including for best picture, and this past weekend, it was No. 1 at the domestic box office with a gross of nearly $25 million.
Yet what may be the film's biggest challenge in the pursuit of Oscar glory is playing out from Hollywood to Washington as debate mounts over the film's accuracy in its depiction of torture and whether the movie itself endorses the use of torture.