2013_BestPictureZERO DARK THIRTY

Before the Oscar nominations were announced, “Zero Dark Thirty” was the strong leader for Best Picture per general consensus in the critics circles, topping the ranks of over half the countries critics. But then the nominations were announced and the slander campaign began for Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film, bringing the question of authenticity to the table. Despite these remarks, “Zero Dark Thirty” was able to capture five nominations, including Best Picture, but was thought to be snubbed (along with “Argo” and “Les Miserables”) for not having its director nominated for Best Directing. With that void in directing category, this film went from one with most potential, to little to none chance of taking the prize. Not to worry, however, as Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, who are not just director and writer, but also producers on the film both have prior Best Picture gold from their 2009 winner “The Hurt Locker”.

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Nominated Role: Jessica Chastain plays Maya, a CIA agent who undertakes a decade-long search for Osama bin Laden.

Early on in the Best Actress category this was a two pony show, with Jessica Chastain facing off with Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook”. Both gave strong, unyielding performances in their own rights. Many looked to the Golden Globes to predict the winner, but with both actresses bringing home their respected awards, it left the race neck and neck. Where Chastain started losing that momentum was when Jennifer Lawrence took home the Screen Actors Guild Award and Emmanuelle Riva took home the BAFTA, leaving Chastain without much backing.

But here’s my defense for Jessica Chastain’s chances of winning. Her performance is much more in depth than Jennifer Lawrence’s. As much as I love both of these actresses and feel there is no real loser in this fight, the fact that Chastain is put in this strong, dramatic female role and knocks it out of the park plays much more pivotal than Lawrence’s role as a lead in a romantic comedy. In most cases, I feel like the Academy normally leans on their strong, political roles as their winners, but with “Zero Dark Thirty” losing steam, that backlash could easily take Chastain with it. So while most Oscar followers will tell you the safe pick is Jennifer Lawrence, there’s a part of me that feels like Chastain could still take this one.

Jessica Chastain was nominated at last year’s Academy Awards for her supporting role in the film “The Help”.


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If “Zero Dark Thirty” was locked on for anything early on in the nominations, it was Best Film Editing, but with the downturn of approval towards the film, almost all steam was lost. However, as this film completely lost its footing, “Argo” shot up the charts, winning absolutely every award it could find. Now, this weekend the Eddies are announced (the editors awards), and that will be a true sign to what will lead come Oscar night, but at the moment, “Argo” stands to take this one, followed closely in second by “Zero Dark Thirty”.

The funny thing is William Goldenberg competes against himself this year, and with “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” being the frontrunners to win, he cannot lose. He’s been nominated twice before, “The Insider” (1999) and “Seabiscuit” (2003), but this will be his very first win. Dylan Tichenor has also previously been nominated, for his editing work on “There Will Be Blood” (2007), but “Zero Dark Thirty” will be his only chance of winning this year.

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Explosions. Helicopters. A believable night raid. All these elements are key in the producing of “Zero Dark Thirty” and its sound design. With Paul N.J. Ottosson taking both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing in 2009 for “The Hurt Locker” (and nominated in 2004 for “Spider-Man 2”, there’s a strong possibility he could take this year’s award as well, with the only real threat remaining in the unpredictable “Argo”. On purely gut feeling, I would have to pick “Zero Dark Thirty” to win, anchored in much more intricate base of sound than that of “Argo”.

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One has to argue that if “Zero Dark Thirty” is garnering so much hate over its authenticity to its “true” aspect, wouldn’t Mark Boal be at the center of this controversy, and thus, place his screenplay at a disadvantage with people combing through it to justify certain inclusions and liberties? However, most experts place Boal in the final two, facing off with Quentin Tarantino, who has been shoveling in the writing awards this season. With those Tarantino wins, the guilds have basically been showing their disapproval of Boal’s screenplay, and even with this unpredictable Academy Awards year, it is quite clear that Boal is a long shot to win this award. But with his 2009 win for “The Hurt Locker”, I think he’ll get by just fine.


“Zero Dark Thirty” is powerful and captivating, with overly impressive and year’s best worthy performances from Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke who hand-carry this film with their determination and prowess in front of the camera. From scene one until the suspenseful night raid of which the film gets its name, Kathryn Bigelow builds a distinct surrounding of political and actual warfare, with phenomenal moments built around actual occurrences following the events of 9/11. Whether this film is fully, loosely, or not all based on the actual events of killing Osama bin Laden doesn’t matter, as the progression through the aggravation and constant loss amongst this impossible manhunt is more than enough to mark this film as monumental.

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// Produced by Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, & Megan Ellison // Directed by Kathryn Bigelow // Written by Mark Boal // Film Editing by Dylan Tichenor & William Goldenberg // Lead Actress: Jessica Chastain // Sound Editor: Paul N.J. Ottosson //

// Dated Viewed: Saturday, February 9th, 2013 // ARCLIGHT HOLLYWOOD //  12 films – 16 days //


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