“Its like a better version of Homeland”, this is how I describe Zero Dark Thirty to people. It has all the trappings of Homeland, set within the CIA, strong female lead and an in depth look at the Homeland Security chapter in post 9/11 America. Unlike Homeland however I find the characters engaging, despite their flaws. I find the story resonates more because of the inclusion of real life events, even if they’re somewhat shoehorned in. Somebody described it too me as a two hour long episode of homeland with a level of Call of Duty stuck on for the last 20 minutes. That’s simplistic and unfair, the action at the end fits into the film due to its necessity and even somehow feels reserved (perhaps because of Chris Pratts controversial waterboarding earlier in the film). The real stand out of this film is of course Jessica Chastain, whose performance grounds a real life story that feels too Hollywood to be real. We follow her entire career as she hunts for “OBL”, as she fights for leads and as those fights consume her life. It is heartbreaking to see her at the end of the film, her entire life building to a single moment which had now passed. There is no celebration because we were never rooting for the death of Osama Bin Laden, we were rooting for Chastain and as the film closes it was clear that our hero was lost now more than ever.
Any other year I would have thought Katheryn Bigelow would have been a strong contender for Best Director but she has been snubbed. Zero Dark Thirty has however picked up another five nominations Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing. Now leaving Film and Sound editing aside (something I have no real idea about) I believe Zero Dark Thirty has a chance in two of these categories. Jessica Chastain as I said above is excellent and I believe that she has a very strong chance of taking home the award (especially since her Golden Globe). The Screenplay written by Marc Boal is excellent and Boal also has a track record with the Academy that shows they aren’t averse to his material. He won the award for his previous work with Katheryn Bigelow “The Hurt Locker” (2011). I believe that when it comes to Best Picture however Zero Dark Thirty may struggle, the field this year is strong and diverse and therefore difficult to predict. However with Weinstein Co lobbying hard for Silver Linings and Box Office juggernauts like Lincoln and Les Miserables to contend with, a controversial film like Zero Dark Thirty is an exceptionally dark horse.
Standout line in the film: “When they come you don’t want to be the last person holding the dog collar” Jason Clarke doling out advice that one should always bear in mind.