From the same team who brought us The Hurt Locker, the best picture winner of 2009, now brings us Zero Dark Thirty. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film follows the decade long
hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

The film was gaining lots of Oscar buzz, and has now been nominated for five academy awards, including best picture. Surrounded by lots of controversy due to its subject matter and torture scenes, Zero Dark Thirty is an engaging and very intense drama that grabs you from start to finish, and a film that you will remember for a very long time.

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Despite the advertising for this movie making it seem like it’s mainly about SEAL Team 6, the story centers around the character Maya, a young CIA agent determined to track down Bin
Laden. Played by Jessica Chastain, she is a character who at times can be quite emotionless, but one who also has a very specific goal in mind and is very persistent at reaching that goal.
Chastain was great in the role, and I believe she is definitely a contender for the best actress Oscar.

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We are able to relate to her frustration as the hunt goes on and causes the audience to go through the same emotional trial she did. The other stand out actor for me in this was Jason
Clarke, who plays a CIA interrogator, and I’m surprised he didn’t get the same Oscar buzz that Chastain received. His interrogations were very unnerving to watch for their raw and realism feeling, and it was interesting to see a character who was two completely different people in and outside the interrogation room. The rest of the performances were great as well, and you will see many familiar faces throughout the film.

Director Kathryn Bigelow I feel really got snubbed this year without getting a best director nomination. The directing was superb, with the same gritty feel that she gave us with The Hurt Locker. An amazing tension is built up right from the beginning with the interrogation scenes, all the way up to the final raid on Osamas compound. The way it was filmed almost gave it a documentary feel, with not overly done music or making the action scene these epic super cinematic sequences. Especially prevalent in the final raid sequence, you can tell that she took a lot of care into the filmmaking, making sure to keep a very authentic and intense vibe, something a lot of movies are lacking today.

The build of tension at times almost made me uncomfortable, but in a good way. In a way that made me feel like I was watching real footage and not a movie, and Kathryn Bigelow did a great job of keeping that consistent.

I have two warnings for viewers of Zero Dark Thirty. First, the interrogation scenes are very intense and could very well turn off those with weak stomachs. I would encourage those to
power through it though, because these are scenes that have an amount of emotion and intensity that you may have never seen in a movie before. My other warning is, despite the commercials making this look like an action movie about the raid on the compound Osama was residing in, it’s not. It is a very long, gripping drama about the intelligence gathering leading up to the raid, with the climax of the film being the raid on the compound.

That is what I find so great about Zero Dark Thirty, we are taken through the long journey that these operatives went through, and it makes the final pay off of the raid sequence that much better. We travel through the story of Maya, seeing all the hard work and obstacles she had to face, and then get to see the accomplishment. It isn’t a film that takes a political side and isn’t a film that tries to shove a message down your throat.

It is a film that goes event by event, and it is in the source material and the characters that it is gripping. Kathryn Bigelow not only proved that she is among the best in film storytelling today, but also proved that you can have a very captivating movie and story without it having to be a huge spectacle. I’m hoping that most audiences will know what they are getting into, because this movie was a great treat and was much more than just a mindless “we killed Osama, USA” movie.

It is a very smart, well executed drama that grabbed my emotions and made me feel a great tension that I haven’t felt in a movie in a really long time. This movie had a limited release back in December, making it technically a movie of 2012. I can honestly say, that Zero Dark Thirty is my favorite movie of the year, and it is one that you should definitely go see in theaters.

I give it a full price A+.