Zero Dark Thirty Movie Review – Bigelow does it again

Before I start this review, let’s just say that I will not be focusing on all of the controversy surrounding this movie. I want to focus on what makes his film good, and not have any outside influences change my opinion.


Zero Dark Thirty is the (supposedly) true retelling of the hunt of Osama Bin Laden. It isn’t a documentary, it’s structured like a film. However, I would label this movie as a fictional documentary, as the characters don’t really have backstory. The sole focus of Zero Dark Thirty is the story of how Osama Bin Laden was captured.

As I said, the characters of this film do not really have a personality. They’re more like pawns used to tell the story. You don’t come to feel for any of them. With that said, the cast is wonderfully acted, despite the wooden writing. The cast is so star studded that I can’t even begin to name them all.

I love this picture.

Jessica Chastain is the central protagonist propelling the story. She plays a CIA agent that has hunted Bin Laden almost her entire life. She is headstrong and stubborn. Chastain does a wonderful job, and is completely deserving of her Golden Globe win. She plays the character with such fire that you sympathize with her when she is down on her luck.

Onto the plot. The movie spans ten years, starting from 9/11 to the day Bin Laden is killed. It is structured almost perfectly. It will show how she finds a small clue in 2003, then it’ll jump 3 years to the next clue. The way the movie works is that you can see the common thread. You see how one thing leads to another, and to the eventual downfall of the Al-Queda leader. Even though the first two hours is a lot of talking and searching, it is still very tense and interesting.

The last two hours are intense. The Tier One team moves slowly and quietly, doing their job efficiently. Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t resort to a big action scene. It is very reserved, just like they did in real life.

There’s not much more to say about Zero Dark Thirty. It is perfectly crafted, well acted, despite the lack of character. It might bore the general audience, but if you love movies, you should go see this!

Overall: 7/10


Oscars 2012 Nominations: My Thoughts!

Best Motion Picture of the Year


Amour (2012): To Be Determined

Argo (2012): Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained (2012): Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone

Les Misérables (2012): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi (2012): Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

All of these make sense, and these are all safe choices. I’ve watched all of these except Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, but by the time of the Academy Awards, I willWith my knowledge right now, the expected winner is either Zero Dark Thirty or Lincoln, but I would love love love to see Tarantino finally win in this category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role


Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012)

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)

Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I)

I’m so happy for Bradley Cooper getting a nomination. All of the other nominations are pretty expected. I’m disappointed Matthew McConaughey wasn’t nominted for Killer Joe. I guess it was because it was risque or because it was NC-17. I’m thinking Daniel Day-Lewis will win in this category, and I’d love him to, he was great.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role


Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (2012)

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)

I have not seen The Impossible, but most people said she was just “eh”. I can’t comment on that, but I’m pretty sure Jessica Chastain will win, even though her character was pretty soulless. I don’t mean that in the sense that she was evil, but most of the characters in Zero Dark Thirty were just cardboard cut outs, and not to its detriment. It’s more of a factual fiction than an emotional movie. I’m really hoping for Jennifer Lawrence to win this, so we can forget The Hunger Games. Please.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role


Alan Arkin for Argo (2012)

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

C’mon, where is Leonardo DeCaprio! He was amazing in Django Unchained. The Academy, to me, seems to be a room of white, old men. They never take any risks in their choices. Tommy Lee Jones was okay, he basically played himself. Alan Arkin was great and funny, but not deserving of a nomination. Out of these choices however, I’m shooting for Christoph Waltz.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role


Amy Adams for The Master (2012)

Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)

Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)

Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This is another example of poor choices in this category. There weren’t many good performances for supporting actresses this year, sure, but Jacki Weaver literally was in the movie for like, 3 minutes. She has maybe 10 lines? Her performance does not warrant a nomination in my opinion. I would vote for either Anne Hathaway or Sally Field on this one. I haven’t seen The Master yet, mind you.

Best Achievement in Directing


Michael Haneke for Amour (2012)

Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Quentin Tarantino? His film is nominated for Best Picture, but he doesn’t get a Best Director? All of these men deserve this nomination though, so it’s fine. I’m honestly torn on this one, and I can’t quite decide yet without seeing the other films. All of these are great.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen


Amour (2012): Michael Haneke

Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino

Flight (2012/I): John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom (2012): Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal

I have not seen Flight, but I will soon. I’m really glad Django Unchained got this nomination, it really deserves it. Many people are championing Looper for this, but I felt like that film was just okay. I’m voting for Django for this one.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published


Argo (2012): Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi (2012): David Magee

Lincoln (2012): Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook (2012): David O. Russell

I gotta go with Life of Pi for this one, as the task to translate this movie to the screen is nearly impossible. I loved all of the other choices though.

Best Achievement in Cinematography


Anna Karenina (2012/I): Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained (2012): Robert Richardson

Life of Pi (2012): Claudio Miranda

Lincoln (2012): Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall (2012): Roger Deakins

This is incredibly hard, as all of these are beautiful. I cannot stress how much I want for every one of these choices to have that golden statue in their homes. However, I have to give this to Roger Deakins, because his cinematography made Skyfall. Life of Pi is beautiful and Lincoln is slow and great looking. I honestly wished for all of these to win.

Best Achievement in Costume Design


Anna Karenina (2012/I): Jacqueline Durran

Les Misérables (2012): Paco Delgado

Lincoln (2012): Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror (2012/I): Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Colleen Atwood

I’ll give this to either Lincoln or Les Miserables, because both of those just transported me to that time period. and really? Mirror Mirror and Snow White?

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling


Hitchcock (2012): Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, Martin Samuel

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Peter King, Rick Findlater, Tami Lane

Les Misérables (2012): Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell

Really? You’re not going to include Looper or Cloud Atlas? Those two movies were amazing with the makeup. In Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins just looks like Fat Hopkins. Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked amazing in Looper, and the pure ambition alone of Cloud Atlas warrants it a nomination. 

Best Achievement in Visual Effects


The Avengers (2012): Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White

Life of Pi (2012): Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott

Prometheus (2012/I): Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012): Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

This is the category for huge, commercial films to really shine. Life of Pi has great CGI animals, but it cannot hold up against the beauty of Prometheus, or the frantic, yet clean action of The Avengers. 

I feel like the Academy needs a shake-up, because all they do is choose very safe choices, and not show all of the different movies some love. I loved 2012 in film, and this is the first year that I’ve seen most of these movies. Woot! Let’s hope the show doesn’t bomb again though…