Review of Zero Dark Thirty

Review of Zero Dark Thirty written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Rating *****

zero dark 30In a previous post, I said that the film The Impossible was my pick for best picture of 2012. Since that picture wasn’t one of the nominated pictures, this film would be my second pick. As much as I liked Argo, that film had some contrived conflict.

So that makes three nonfiction movies in the running for best picture next week: Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. Argo is the front-runner and will probably win. But I wouldn’t count out another win for Kathryn Bigelow.

All three of the nominated nonfiction films have been criticized for playing loose with the facts. For Argo it was the dramatic climax of the film, which didn’t happen as it was depicted. For Lincoln it was the vote for the abolition of slavery, which didn’t quite go as it was depicted. With Zero Dark Thirty the biggest criticism deals with the depiction of torture. In the film, a tortured detainee gives up the name of Osama Bin Laden’s personal courier, which ultimately leads to the big Kahoona himself. I don’t know if that is true or not. I’m on the side that believes that torture is wrong and doesn’t work. But I also know that under Bush and Cheney torture took place. So I’ll give the filmmakers a pass on that one.

I liked everything about this film. Jessica Chastain deserves her nomination for best actress, though I would still give it to Naomi Watts for The Impossible. Mark Boal deserves his nomination for best original screenplay. And Kathryn Bigelow should have been nominated. This film was better, in my opinion, than The Hurt Locker.

The climax to this film is the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Previous to watching this film, I had only the media’s version of what happened. I know from experience that the media gets it right about 50% of the time. This depiction is probably more closer to the truth. I take back anything stupid I might have said in my post Osama Bin Laden: truth not as exciting as fiction. That was a hair-raising operation no matter how you look at it.


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