I love politics. See, that wasn’t hard to say and yet, so many of us go out of our way to not get into a political conversation; too scared to offend the other person. Why? The reality is politics affect virtually everything in life, no matter the country, state or city that you live in. For those wondering, politics, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the art or science of government. The organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures is 'The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.' That’s an odd coincidence, or is it? Truth is politics just about rule this ceremony each and every year, a reality we all need to except, including yours truly. Because until the voting process changes or the qualifications of who gets invited into the Academy changes, we will continue to watch politics tarnish what use to be a much clearer golden statuette. Having said that, it’s still the ‘super bowl’ for movies and the one award show casual moviegoers will tune in for, even if they hadn’t seen any of the nine films nominated for 'Best Picture.' So, it’s in that spirit I introduce “Zero Dark Thirty,” the most controversial film among all the nominees.
I’ll admit, I never pictured this film as a Best Picture nominee, but am glad it is given the historic value it brings. That’s at least why it should be among this short list of nominees, but somewhere in the back of mind, I think it’s only here because the Academy respects Kathryn Bigelow and her craft. But either way, it deserves it, so pay no attention to the naysayers out there slamming this film for its misleading portrayal of torture by our own CIA. Because this film is so much more than that, thanks to Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow who simply wanted to credit all that was involved in accomplishing this historic goal. And to me, that’s precisely what they did on their way to another Oscar nomination. For Mark Boal, what else can I say for a guy that’s about to win his second Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. He’s incredible and this film, like “The Hurt Locker,” would have been nothing without his vision. Plain and simple, he is the gas that makes this Bigelow-Boal train run so well; because it’s his research and knowledge that bleeds out through the script. Sure, Kathryn Bigelow clearly as an eye for these type of films, having now succeeded with two of them, but I just can’t envision the same success without Boal. He was the driving force yet again, this time producing an entirely different kind of drama than what we saw in the Oscar winning “The Hurt Locker.”
It’s a crying shame Kathryn Bigelow wasn’t nominated for ‘Best Director,’ but I guess based on my push for Boal, maybe she shouldn’t have. Having said that, the final climactic sequence containing the raid was unbelievable to watch, starting with the stealth flight through the Sarban hills and finishing in the close confines of Osama bin Laden’s compound. I mean, the pure detail put into this raid and compound by Bigelow was uncanny, as it truly was about as real as it gets. I liken it to controlled chaos, as each SEAL moved methodically through the pitch black compound, all the while of not knowing what was around the next corner. The result is well documented, but never shown in a manner like this. So, I do credit Bigelow for unleashing a whole new level of intensity, as you felt as if you were walking right beside those SEALs. And to me it was this sequence that earned “Zero Dark Thirty” the nominations for ‘Best Editing’ and ‘Best Sound Editing,’ the same two categories “The Hurt Locker” won for in 2009. So we might see a repeat this year if the voters somehow forget about “Life of Pi,” my pick for each of these categories. Too bad the same can’t be said for ‘Best Picture,’ which again was more of a token nomination than anything else. Reason is simple; “The Hurt Locker” won 'Best Picture' so why would the Academy reward Bigelow again for a film in the same movie genre? They already snubbed her for directing, so it will be easy to look past her film for 'Best Picture' when the final votes are cast.
It’s a good thing Jessica Chastain has a good friend like producer Megan Ellison, or she might not have ever been in this film to earn her second Academy Award nomination, this one for ‘Best Actress.’ It’s true, when filmmakers first contacted Chastain’s agent, they were told she wasn’t available. Yikes, and here I thought only Adam Sandler had an agent that didn’t care. So, its good Ellison got Chastain to meet up with Kathryn Bigelow, who handed her Boal’s amazing script, one that frankly she could not turn down. And I can only imagine how challenging it was to portray a woman you never had a chance to meet or learn from. But to Chastain’s credit, she pulled it off and showed another side to her that I never expected to see after watching some of her previous films. That’s no slight on her resume, just the truth of what appeared to be a curious hire by Bigelow at first. So, while I could easily make a case for a number of different actresses to play this role, Chastain was the one chosen. And it was her character’s own vulnerability and steadfast determination that lets you into this incredible untold story, a performance that might just earn her the win against some brutal competition.
To find out which Oscar contenders are playing near you, click here