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The word this awards season is plenty grim, judging by the topics — vengeance and addiction, true crime and race relations — obsessing some of Hollywood's top screenwriters. Escapism is reserved mostly for the overstuffed summer blockbusters, where dialogue often is drowned out by superhero fisticuffs. Now that the more serious film fare is rolling out, it's all about addressing social issues and zeroing in on characters who are fighting their own demons — whether it's Steve Jobs' ferocious need to succeed in the Aaron Sorkin-penned Steve Jobs or the dislocation experienced by Charlie Kaufman's inspirational speaker in Anomalisa.
Even those movies with triumphant heroes deal with upsetting realities: The crusading journalists in Spotlight go up against the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal; in Trumbo, Dalton Trumbo must fight political hysteria to recover the use of his name; and Joy might be lighter, but Jennifer Lawrence's businesswoman must still overcome lots of chauvinism. Overall, it's a tough, rough world out there.
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