10 Days of Oscars: Zero Dark Thirty


When Osama bin Laden was pronounced dead in 2011, Kathryn Bigelow did not waste a moment to announce that she was making a film to tell the tale of the manhunt. One year later, “Zero Dark Thirty” was released. We all knew how the movie was going to end, but this didn’t make the film any less suspenseful.

Although it isn’t an action-packed film with explosions and bravado, “Zero Dark Thirty” focuses on the years leading up to the pivotal moments in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

It is a film that speaks softly and carries a big “stick.” Bin Laden’s death has been celebrated as a patriotic success, Bigelow reminds the audience what it cost us to get there.

The film opens up in 2003 where CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) is first transported to Pakistan with a main job to find out where bin Laden is. We follow her through various events through a time span of eight years as she and a group of other agents “interrogate” potential leads and dead ends.

The problem is, then, that time is not on her side as she is fighting against a nation and its government who is losing the faith and morale to continue on the hunt. Although Maya goes through some changes throughout the film, “Zero Dark Thirty” isn’t just about her. It isn’t even about finding and killing bin Laden. In fact, much of the most flashy and dramatic parts of the movie wasn’t at the climax, but rather earlier in the film, where we get snippets of the danger that Maya and the rest of the CIA agents on the field are risking when they leave the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

This is what makes “Zero Dark Thirty” resonate. The subtlety and frank nature of the film made the scenes even more believable, besides the fact that it was based off of real recollections of the events that occurred.

What makes “Zero Dark Thirty” a great film is that it reminds the audience a side of American life that a part of our fellow citizens have lived through, but doesn’t raise their efforts on a pedestal or make it flashy or desirable. It leaves a question for the audience to think about their own thoughts on the war of terror and the past ten years.

Any film that is based off of real events will always be under scrutiny at some point, and “Zero Dark Thirty” is no exception. Although it has been criticized for its accuracy, it’s not alone as other nominees like “Argo”, “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln” have also been under heat. Regardless, “Zero Dark Thirty” has a pretty good chance of winning Best Picture of the Year. The amount of content that was put into a 2 hour and 37 minute film despite its slow pace was gripping, and Jessica Chastain’s memorable performance as Maya has a fighting chance as well.