An HE commenter named “Sperky” (one of the dumbest-sounding handles I’ve ever heard) has just spitballed that Zero Dark Thirty is dead as a Best Picture winner because of the ridiculous charges that it somehow endorses or celebrates torture. As revolting and wrong-headed as this press gang-up has been (a truly repugnant chapter in awards-season history), I hate to admit this guy may be right.

I also suspect that the only thing that can save Zero Dark Thirty in the Best Picture race is a loud, coordinated, balls-out, full-court-press response by Sony Pictures publicity and the filmmakers and their top defenders, standing (or sitting) together at a press conference and declaring once and for all that ZD30 has been painted with smears by people with an agenda, and that it’s gotten out of hand and that the record is clear among those in the know and so on.

Sony, in short, has to man up. They have to get tough and militant and explicit about this and slap down the film’s accusers and tell them to go eff themselves…or it’s over. It may be over already. I don’t know.

A journalist friend confided this morning that he’s not even sure, given how this film has been colored by negative controversy and the way Academy people aren’t mentioning it in conversation, if ZD30 will even be Best Picture-nominated. I gasped when I heard this. My face literally lost color.

I do know that this morning a CBS This Morning anchor stated that Sony “hasn’t responded” to the ZD30-criticizing letter from Acting CIA Director Michael Morell or to a similar letter written to Sony by Senators Diane Feinstein, John McCain and Carl Levin.

Even with holiday distractions and whatnot, Sony’s silence on this matter has been deafening.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think that a film as masterful as ZD30 can be taken down by a vitriolic ideological mob, but as Samuel Goldwyn might have said if he were here right now, “If people want to smear a film, you can’t stop them.” Except you can stop them, or Sony can, I mean. They can at least try. They might lose, but where is the honor is letting this teardown happen without standing up and explaining in detail how the accusers are dead wrong or wildly off on their own beam?

ZD30 may or may not be a goner, but Sony ought to at least make a valiant last stand, guns blazing. When JFK was being accused of being unfit for the Presidency because as a Catholic he would favor the Vatican, did he let it lie and duck the accusers like Sony has been doing?