In 2010, the Academy made headlines when, for the 82nd Academy Awards, they announced they would be extending the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. At the time, it seemed like a valiant decision, especially after the previous year failed to see Best Picture nominations for either The Dark Knight or Wall-E, two exceptional masterpieces. In retrospect, however, the decision was pointless in 2010, for no matter the competition, be it Cameron’s Avatar, the Coen. Brothers’ A Serious Man, or Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, there was no way any film would ever top Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, a tour-de-force of a movie that’s easily the best and most powerful post 9/11 war film of all time (at least as of now). For that reason alone, it’s impossible not to anticipate Bigelow’s follow up, Zero Dark Thirty, a film about the dangerous operation to hunt and kill Osama Bin Laden. Take a peek at the film’s latest trailer below and let’s see why this could very well be a late season contender come its December 19th release:
Why I’m Sold:
1) Bigelow’s Back At War: When your name is Kathryn Bigelow and your last film was The Hurt Locker, that in itself is enough to guarantee fervent anticipation for your next picture; honestly, from the minute the words “From the Academy Award Winning Director and Writer of The Hurt Locker” were plastered on the screen, I was beyond sold. In The Hurt Locker, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal managed to create a nerve-wracking tension that hasn’t been paralleled since; the kinetic punch they gave each scene reminded me a lot of Oliver Stone and his surefire direction of Platoon, a film that is in many ways a predecessor to The Hurt Locker. Combining Bigelow’s taunt direction with the tense topic of Osama Bin Laden’s murder just sounds like a masterpiece waiting to happen, does it not? At this current moment, no one does war better than Bigelow and she couldn’t have been the better pick to direct a film profiling this historical event.
2) Cinematography: How do you achieve all the tension I stated above? Well, some knockout cinematography helps, and if the trailer is any indication, Zero Dark Thirty will be a white-knuckled thrill ride. From the fiery oranges and the muddy browns in the field (which look to add a sense of heat and sweat) to the cold hearted staleness of the CIA and all the dark, mysterious shadows, Zero Dark Thirty looks to be an all-encompassing look at the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, one that will actually transport us to the time and make us feel like we’re actually in on the operation. The first moment of the trailer depicting a flame-infused sunrise has shades of a polished Apocalypse Now and the final moments, which depict what looks like the actual raid on Bin Laden’s compound, look to be a highlight of the film; by shooting the field operation with shaky night-vision, Bigelow is guaranteed to transport us into that moment of unbearable tension – I’m already shaking.
3) The Cast: A lot of Zero Dark Thirty has been shrouded in secrecy, and while we’re still not sure who exactly everyone is, the talent shown in the trailer seems way too powerful to ignore. For starters, the luminous Jessica Chastain seems to be a main player as a CIA Operative uncovering Bin Laden’s location; so riveting in The Help, The Tree of Life, and Take Shelter, Chastain has easily become one of my favorite working actresses and the chance to see what looks like a moody, nail biting performance under the direction of Bigelow is too good to be true. Even better is the rest of the cast, which includes heavy hitters like Joel Edgerton (so perfectly vulnerable in Warrior), Chris Pratt (who’s proven he can do comedy and drama with roles in Parks and Recreation and Moneyball), Mark Strong (brilliant in supporting roles in Syriana and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Jennifer Ehle (who was the best part of Contagion), and, last but certainly not least, James Gandolfini as Leon Panetta, the United States Secretary of Defense.
4) What exactly happened?: All I know about the killing of Osama Bin Laden is that it occurred on a normal seeming night in May (I remember watching the television with my family as breaking news began) and that it changed history forever – but what actually happened? How long did the CIA plan this? What exactly did the Navy SEALS experience? It’s for this reason that Zero Dark Thirty could be a sensation, for it could very well give millions of people, myself included, the first opportunity to experience what happened on that historic night (the fact that the movie will show us events that many of us don’t even know happened sounds mindblowing). Although I know the end result, I know almost nothing about the steps leading up to it, and if Bigelow can paint a riveting portrait of the CIA’s hunt for Bin Laden just like she did for soldiers in The Hurt Locker, than Zero Dark Thirty will not only teach me more about that fateful night but it could also change my perspective of the entire event. Now that’s the power of the movies for you!
Are you looking forward to Zero Dark Thirty? Think it has a chance to shake up the awards season? Do you praise The Hurt Locker as much as I do or were you not as impressed?
Article by Zack Sharf