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“Zero Dark Thirty” For Best Picture


“Zero Dark Thirty” deserves to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards this February, but it won’t.

What is probably the best movie of the year will be overlooked because of its “controversy.”  Director Kathryn Bigelow, who missed out on a Best Director nomination, has really shaken the political world with her depictions of the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.  Opponents of torture criticize the film for its “pro-torture” stance and speculative politicians seem to think the film may be a little too accurate (maybe some classified information).


“Zero Dark Thirty” is BASED on actual events.  It’s not a documentary; it’s a combination of fact and fiction.  What we know for sure is not enough to make a movie; of course there will be some crafted events.  Over-sensitive critics and fans are going to miss the true value of this movie:  entertainment.

Bigelow reunites with “The Hurt Locker” writer Mark Boal, but “Zero Dark Thirty” is nothing like their previous endeavor.  It follows “the greatest manhunt in history.”  It isn’t a cliché war movie following a group of soldiers; it’s a look behind-the-scenes of the hunt for bin Laden.  A majority of the movie follows CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) through her career of tracking bin Laden.  However, the final part of the movie chronicles Seal Team Six’s raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The most emotion-evoking scene of the movie is the introduction.  The screen stays black and the only audio is recordings from 9/11.  This single scene reminds us what the movie is really about:  catching the man who killed thousands of people and bringing him to justice.  From this point on, a team of CIA operatives works to locate bin Laden, eventually locating his courier which leads them to the compound.

The shooting of Seal Team Six’s raid was brilliant and in my opinion, the best part of the movie.  The sheer scale of it was phenomenal.  A helicopter crash and crowds gathering around the compound kept me involved; even though I knew what would happen, I was still on the edge of my seat.  The use of night-vision cameras adds to the intensity of the scene.

The movie ends with one of the most dramatic endings I have seen in a long time.  After confirming the body as bin Laden, Maya steps onto a C-130 and begins to cry.  Her mission was ugly and it was messy, but it was over.

The criticism of “Zero Dark Thirty” for its depiction of torture is ridiculous.  No matter what people say, terrorists were tortured.  Bigelow just wanted to show what actually happened; not once did anyone in the movie imply torture directly led to the location of bin Laden.  Even if someone did, as I said earlier, this movie is loosely based on actual events.  This doesn’t mean every torture scene happened in reality.

“Zero Dark Thirty” should win Best Picture, but the controversy that has come to surround it will surely make it difficult.  If I had to guess, I’d say Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” will win.      

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