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McCarthy Calls Zero Dark Thirty “the most impressive film Bigelow has made” Props for Chastain

Two key reviews have emerged on the latest Kathryn Bigelow film, Zero Dark Thirty, which sounds gritty, immersive and exceptional.  Because she and screenwriter Marc Boal were constantly dogged by the continual and ultimately ineffectual right wingers, they’ve had to eliminate all references to President Obama. Major props to Harvey Weinstein for making what was an Obama infomercial, or super PAC, with SEAL Team Six to counteract that ridiculous farce, Obama’s America 2016, but clearly Bigelow and Boal were going for a different kind of film. McCarthy:

As it has emerged instead, it could well be the most impressive film Bigelow has made, as well as possibly her most personal, as one keenly feels the drive of the filmmaker channeled through the intensity of Maya’s character. The film’s power steadily and relentlessly builds over its long course, to a point that is terrifically imposing and unshakable.

Chastain carries the film in a way she’s never been asked to do before. Denied the opportunity to provide psychological and emotional details for Maya, she nonetheless creates a character that proves indelible and deeply felt. The entire cast works in a realistic vein to fine effect.

Similarly, all the technical contributions are put at the service of full verisimilitude. Locations in Jordan and India fill in beautifully for Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

TIME’s Richard Corliss calls Zero Dark Thirty a “damn fine” film and closes out his review:

With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time: Clarke as the hard-case interrogator with a Ph.D., Kateb as his victim-informer, Kyle Chandler as Maya’s suave, cautious station boss, Jennifer Ehle as a warm, seen-it-all field agent and Edgar Ramirez as an operative who tracks bin Laden on an edgy ride through Islamabad. Chastain takes a while to grow into Maya’s skin, but her tentativeness in the early scenes may be an accurate depiction of a young woman just out of college, enduring the growing pains of a difficult matriculation in a killer job.

As a bright young woman driven to bring down an al Qaeda terrorist, Maya shares aspects of Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison in the Showtime series Homeland, but she lacks Carrie’s defining neuroses — or much other personal biography. What are Maya’s political beliefs? Who are her family and friends back home? Does she have a sex life? Doesn’t matter: she is her job. In a way, Maya is the CIA equivalent of Bigelow: a strong woman who has mastered a man’s game

I will be seeing the film later today. I will try to not chew furniture with excitement until then.

68 Comments on this Post

  1. rufussondheim

    Well, if these reviews are representative, then this film is headed for a bright future. The Corliss review excites me as he’s not one to put up with shenanigans.

    I have no idea how the academy will respond to this, but since a lot of them have spent signifigant time in NY, I can’t imagine that it will be ignored.

    The film in recent memory that this seems most analogous to is Traffic, but I suspect that nothing really compares to this, it seems like a whole new ballgame. And I want a front row seat.

  2. I knew (OK, hoped) the Bigelow/Chastain duo won’t miss, now I only hope both WILL get in ! Bigelow would keep breaking Oscar-records, after being the first woman to WIN, she could be also the first one to land a SECOND BD nomination. As for the Best Actress race, I like Jennifer Lawrence and I have no doubt she will win an Oscar one day, but I really hope it won’t be for this character, I’ve just finished the book, and though I have no doubt she did wonders to the role, I don’t think the material could be possibly enough for an Oscar, unless Russell improved the character considerably (I will see the film in January). I just don’t want ‘a Tiffany’ win over important female roles like ‘Maya’ (the girl who got Bin Laden) ‘Maria’ (a mother of three who survived the most horrible natural disaster against all odds) or Anna Karenina (which is arguably one of the most iconic, complex and difficult female roles ever written). Also, I have this crazy hunch that the Academy will pull ‘a Reader’ on Sally Field and if that happens, it would be an even bigger embarasmment if ‘a Tiffany’ could beat ‘a Mary Lincoln’. Again, I’m not comparing performances, I haven’t seen ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, I’m assuming all these contenders nailed their respective parts and I am only comparing the ROLES.

    So…is the Spielberg-Hooper-Affleck-Bigelow-Russell quintet happening OR is there still an unseen contender (Tarantino-Jackson-Van Sant) OR an underestimated risktaker (Lee-PTA-Nolan-Wright-Bayona-Wachowskis/Tykwer) who could take out one of them ? I think Ang Lee will knock out David O. Russell in the end, but considering the LOTR-trilogy has a 91 average Metacritic rating AND was a big Academy-fave, I could see Jackson emerge, too, or at least based on his previous Tolkien-related-work, there is absolutely no reason to expect anything but a universally acclaimed masterpiece. Thoughts ?

    P.S. Sasha, can we expect a Zero Dark Thirty review AND a few words about Les Miserables anytime soon ? Should Jackman be considered a lock and does his film have the potential for several supporting actress/actor nomininations ?

  3. Best Director is really starting to get crowded and Django and Hobbit haven’t even been seen yet. I think the only 2 locks right now are Affleck and Spielberg. Then you have Hooper, Bigelow, Lee, Russel, Tarantino, Jackson, and Anderson vying for 3 spots. Should be interesting. My gut tells me it will be:

    Affleck
    Bigelow
    Hooper
    Russel
    Spielberg.

  4. In the whole Lawrence vs. Chastain, it doesn’t sound like Chastain did anything special. It’s just a great role (although I strongly suspect that the role is an exaggerated fiction with the CIA trying to build up it’s image after a decade of bungling). So that debate comes down to do you want to give the award to the one who showed the greatest talent (Lawrence) or the one who plays the (allegedly) more “important” role. I side with talent. Many actresses could pull off what Chastain does in Zero Dark Thirty. Not many imo could pull off what Lawrence did in SLP. Side with the greater talent. Lawrence has been carrying movies (I still think Poker House when she was 17 was her best work) since she started.

  5. Sasha, can’t wait to hear what you think of this one. I’m very very excited to see it. One point I picked up on in the review when I read it last night: I loved how Corliss distinguished ZDT’s portrayal of war as macrocosm (the far-reaching networks of waging war) from The Hurt Locker’s war as microcosm (the Baghdad street wired with explosives, one person’s story). Very keen perception that can separate from and complement Bigelow’s previous work, on top of this film being perhaps her most personal.

    Also–Corliss did say ZDT “blows [Argo] out of the water.” I’m hoping it proves good enough to compete with Lincoln, Argo, and now Les Mis for the top prize.

  6. Winston

    I thought I was clear when I said “I’m assuming all these contenders nailed their respective parts and I am only comparing the ROLES”, but for the record, I meant that if it comes down to a bunch of excellent roles, I hope they will pick one with some merit.

    Of course when you say something like “Many actresses could pull off what Chastain does in Zero Dark Thirty. Not many imo could pull off what Lawrence did in SLP. “, I have to automatically think you have already seen both films, so you can’t really blame me for asking , how was Zero Dark Thirty ? Or if you haven’t seen it, you might want to reconsider advices like “Side with the greater talent”, a notion that is frankly ridiculous when you try to use it against someone so obviously ubertalented as Jessica Chastain.

    Jennifer Lawrence is a very promising young actress, again, I have NO DOUBT she nailed the part, my problem is not with her OR her performance I haven’t even seen, my problem is with her role. And frankly if you insist on this ‘greater talent’ game, can you honestly tell me that Lawrence would win that game against Chastain, Watts, Cotillard, Knightley, Mirren, Riva ? I’m not saying she most certainly wouldn’t, I’m saying that telling me she most certainly WOULD, is nonsense.

  7. What exactly did Jennifer Lawrence do in SLP? The camera was focused on her ass most of the time so I had trouble judging her performance. Do tell.

  8. AlecFPrice

    As more information has come to light about the film, the more I’ve started to anticipate something in the vein of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN or ZODIAC. Though neither nane-check those films, these reviews would seem to indicate that’s exactly the kind of territory we are in – which could not be more exciting.

    Having now seen THE MASTER, this is my most anticipated film of the season.

  9. Phantom – I was going to post the same reply to Winston; thanks for saving me the keystrokes! This person has obviously not seen 0D30 — very few have.

    Its fascinating to have two sweeping historical epics and two middle-eastern themed CIA pictures all duking it out in the same year. Surely this could be one of most exciting awards seasons of all-time. I hope nothing dominates and everything walks away with something when all is said and done.

  10. Wow this year is off the charts! I am so mad I have to wait till January to see this movie!

  11. Winston, the way you phrased your sentence:

    “So that debate comes down to do you want to give the award to the one who showed the greatest talent (Lawrence) or the one who plays the (allegedly) more “important” role. I side with talent.”

    are you saying that Chastain has less talent as Jennifer Lawrence? I don’t know what she’s done to you, but Chastain is as beautiful and talented as Lawrence, and I think she is even MORE versatile than Lawrence. Yes, Chastain has a great role in Zero Dark Thirty, but if you are a terrible actress, you still can’t make the part alive.

  12. I can’t wait. So jealous, Sasha. Don’t most of us have to wait until January to see this? How in the hell can we wait that long!!!

  13. Jessica Chastain is not only a talented actress, she is the most versatile actress working today.

  14. Much as I respect Bigelow/Chastain, if the part is anything like Affleck’s in “Argo”, it could be flat as a pancake.

    OTOH, it could be wonderfully complex and driven. And original.

    Jennifer Lawrence just doesn’t deserve an Oscar for the hottest babe, which is what she is playing in SLP AND it’s not performing as expected at the box-office! O.O.

  15. I agree with Helios. Jennifer lawrence is talented thanks to her boobs and ass.

  16. Jack Traven II

    I don’t really know about the general political views of the Academy members but I always thought that – due to the fact that it’s mostly crowded by the old – they would tend to be predominantly conservative. In that case I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they – more or less – ignore ZD30 since its story is about an accomplishment that was achieved during a democratic Administration. That’s, of course, just a supposition. But since everything seems to be politics nowadays.

  17. This is shaping up to be a very excited awards season. Les Mis and ZD30 seem like they’re going to be the front runners with Lincoln as a probable spoiler. The most interesting part is that 3 out of the 4 aforementioned films’ directors already has a Best Director Win. Hooper and Bigalow both won recently and Spielberg already has 2 (though the academy may make an exception since it’s been over a decade).
    There is of course Russell, Affleck, Tarantino, Anderson and Zeitlin of whom any could break though and cause commotion. Lee or Jackson could also make a big play. But no matter who makes it through to the short list in the end, it’s going to be 5 strong directors helming 5 strong films. And this is simply because there are no bad options. All the films to garner support this year have been innovative, great story telling vehicles that are sure to gain respect overtime.
    It’s the end of November and I still am not sure which way the academy will turn, but whatever happens it will be a race to remember.

  18. @Helios: If you can see beyond Helen Hunt’s, Marion Cotillard, and Rooney Mara’s naked vaginas and tits to judge their acting then I’m sure you can see beyond Jennifer Lawrence’s clothed butt to judge hers. If you can’t I wonder how you function in the world with half the population being women whose butt is at some point in front of you on a sidewalk or at work. LOL. You guys are the same people who loved Jennifer Lawrence in Winters Bone and The Hunger Games but want to now be dismissive of her in SLP because she isn’t under layers of clothing and deglamourized. Women are only good actresses if they aren’t sexy or hot. So any good looking actress should be reduced to just a piece of ass cause you are upset that they look so good. I suggest therapy to help with that green-eyed monster and sexist attitude. Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence should be judged by their ACTING not whether or not you approve of their CHARACTERS as role-models for women. It’s an acting award.

  19. Pierre de Plume

    Jennifer Lawrence may have “boobs and ass,” but she also has enough charisma to hold the screen and some nicely developing acting talent, as well.

  20. Stephen Holt

    “Much as I respect Bigelow/Chastain, if the part is anything like Affleck’s in “Argo”, it could be flat as a pancake.”

    Sight unseen, simply based on early word and statements that indicate this character had been obsessed with tracking down the terrorist for 10 years and even more so after losing her closest colleagues etc., I think ‘Maya’ will be closer to Carrie Mathison than Tony Mendez. Frankly, I’m expecting a no-nonsense Carrie Mathison without the bipolar disorder and the troubled personal life.

    Also, you were right bringing up the Box Office of ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ : when there is a contemporary romantic comedy that is also a critically acclaimed Weinstein-crowdpleaser featuring two hot, young franchise all-stars in the lead roles and a living legend in a supporting role, STRONG Box Office is expected. It could get there, it is still in limited release, WOM might not have kicked in just yet, it could pick up steam once the Holiday Season kicks in etc., but for now, it has been doing surprisingly unspectacularly. I don’t think Lawrence – or any comedy/dramedy contender against stiff dramatic competition – could win with mediocre Box Office, SLP needs at least Sideways-numbers to get a pass. Just look at recent years : NO winner in a comedy, and the ‘kind-of-funny’ drama roles ALL had spectacular Box Office : The Blind Side, Walk the Line, Erin Brockovich, Shakespeare in Love, As Good As It Gets. If Lawrence wants to win, she can’t afford to be the funniest in the category UNLESS her movie has the BO. My two cents.

  21. Starting to think about it, this is the only website that focuses on Jennifer Lawrence’s looks and body instead of her acting in SLP. When it comes to Bradley Cooper-her male costar-nothing is said about his good looks or attractive body just his acting. Funny that. Also funny how he isn’t judged on whether or not his character is a good role- model for men. His character is just seen as a character. No judgmental attitude. Funny that.

  22. Oh please, jennifer lawrence is the most OVERRATED ACTRESS I saw in the last two decade. She is just an average actres with a huge hype around her.

  23. Jerry

    “Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence should be judged by their ACTING not whether or not you approve of their CHARACTERS as role-models for women. It’s an acting award.”

    That’s the whole point, Jerry, how can one judge Chastain when basically NOBODY has seen her ‘acting’ yet ? This whole thing started with Winston saying any actress could do what Chastain does in ZD30 unlike Lawrence’s work in SLP. And by the way, playing the ‘acting award’ card won’t fly, either : if ACTING was the sole aspect, then Winstead, Coriealdi, Fanning, Vikander would be still in the conversation. They are NOT, because they aren’t acclaimed previous nominees with distributors willing to cough up serious money to campaign for them. Frankly, I would be VERY surprised if we had a first-time nominee in the Best Actress category this year. Riva and Wallis are the only viable options and it might just happen that the Academy falls in love with the idea of nominating their oldest and youngest BA-contender in the same year, but I think at this point it’s just wishful thinking. I’m expecting 5 of these 9 ladies to make the cut : Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Rachel Weisz, Sally Field. I think it’s time to finally face the cruel fact that the crucial Academy-screening did NOT go well for ‘Beasts’ and even if it did, in a time when there is a new BP-frontrunner every week, they would have already forgotten about it anyway since June AND as brilliant as Riva and her movie is, the Academy rarely goes for foreign language performances, ESPECIALLY not two in the same category the same year, ESPECIALLY not an understated performance and ESPECIALLY not one in a heartbreakingly depressing film.

  24. Jerry, I’m not part of whatever group of people you’re referring to. Who is ‘you guys’? I haven’t seen The Sessions and Rust and Bone yet, can’t comment on those. Rapace is my favorite Salander; don’t care for Rooney Mara. As for JL, she was really good in SLP. I have nothing against her but her boobs and ass were deliberately being displayed at every opportunity. Perhaps I should blame the director. Forgive me if I don’t think she is the clear frontrunner people make her out to be.

  25. Rodrigo JP

    My feeling is that it will come down to this :

    Best pic : les miserables, lincoln, zero dark thirty, the hobbit, life of pi, silver linings playbook, django unchained, beasts of the southern east

    Best director: tom hooper, spielberg, tarantino, peter jackson, bigelow

  26. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Les Mis and ZD30 seem like they’re going to be the front runners with Lincoln as a probable spoiler.

    You have it exactly backwards.

  27. Bradley Cooper’s character wasn’t prancing around in tank tops&leggings. He was wearing a garbage bag :D

  28. Jerry

    “When it comes to Bradley Cooper-her male costar-nothing is said about his good looks or attractive body just his acting. Funny that. Also funny how he isn’t judged on whether or not his character is a good role- model for men. His character is just seen as a character. No judgmental attitude. Funny that.”

    Probably because his character isn’t supposed to be attractive. Funny that. Also funny, how he isn’t judged on whether or not his character is a good role- model for men, because he doesn’t have a chance to WIN, he isn’t the supposed frontrunner Lawrence is. Funny that.

    I think when we talk Oscars, it’s important to at least HOPE the Academy rewards strong female characters because they still seem to have a problem with just that, strong females : there were 4 female BD nominees out of 400, that’s 1 %; only one of them won out of 83, again 1%; with few exceptions they constantly opt for the hot, young babe in Best Actress and more often than not IGNORE very worthy contenders who might not be hot or young or classic beauties, but could be easily better BA-picks than their triumphant rivals. Just a few obvious examples : Swank/Bening/Staunton, Witherspoon/Huffman, Berry/Dench/Spacek, Roberts/Burstyn, Hunt/Dench, Foster/Close/Streep/Weaver etc. To put it in perspective, consider this : the Academy had the opportunity to give Best Actress to Judi Dench for Mrs. Brown OR Iris OR Mrs. Henderson presents…they went with Helen Hunt, Halle Berry and (clearly supporting) Reese Witherspoon. They are now Best Actress winners…Judi Dench is NOT.

    I am not saying the Academy should discriminate an actress just because she is a hot, young babe, I’m saying awarding one who is just playing that exact stereotype with Oscar-friendly ‘issues’ in a crowdpleaser, pretty much means they are STILL not there, they STILL don’t get it. Of course if the contender in question would be SO high above everyone else strictly based on her performance, that would be a different story, but if you can recall, there was actual category confusion when the film came out, so the question isn’t just ‘is she REALLY the best ?’, it’s also ‘would she be in the lead race, had she been an average-looking unknown in her late thirties’ ? And if you saw the film, you should DEFINITELY take your time before answering the second question.

    By the way, I NEVER brought up her looks, I criticized her ROLE. But for the record, her character is basically chasing Pat and he doesn’t seem to have a clue. How is it believable that someone who looks like Jennifer Lawrence is chasing a straight man with her love, and he doesn’t respond ? How could she play a role that was written OLDER, she is a widow for fuck’s sake ? I have NO doubt she elevated the part and the whole film, I just don’t see her in a role that by the way isn’t a very strong one OR a lead one to begin with.

    Having said that, I’m still expecting to be blown away by her work in this, I’m just not sure she has enough to work with to win Best Actress. If all contenders deliver Oscar-worthy performances in different genres, it will come down to the material, and that could be a big problem in her case.

  29. Cor, where popular, young, attractive actresses are concerned, this site turns into a waterhole for a bunch of babbling queens!

  30. WOW, way to post a completely ignorant comment, Paddy ! Clearly if someone can’t appreciate a hot actress’s ROLE in a film, he must be a queen. I had no idea my straightness depended on automatically appreciating a hot girl’s acting every time she appears on screen. Well, I guess I learned something new today, as well.

  31. Now we have another BP nominee on our hands with ZD30. I hope Chastain gets acclaim that can lead her to the stage to accept a Best Actress Oscar. Also, The Hobbit looks amazing, and I see it getting a ton of nominations, with the new technolgy and the return of peter jacksons middle earth(lotr are the best movies of all time). If Django doesnt dissapoint then I see a couple films getting pushed out from getting BP nods, maybe Silver Linings or Life of Pi. And for director, I see Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Christopher Nolan, Ben Affleck, and Kathryn Bigelow or Peter Jackson.

  32. Kk sure, I’m ignorant. Phantom, you’re the one too ignorant of the humour behind my comment to get the joke…

    WOW, way to blow your top!

  33. Clearly some people on this website have issues with attractive women. Like I said try therapy. Moving on to MOVIES and ACTING. Another ZD30 Review from Variety: http://t.co/A3xPRN32

  34. This is probably my most anticipated film of the fall. Absolutely can’t wait for this and reading these reviews have only piqued my interest more.

    I think Kathryn Bigelow is becoming a sure-thing for best director. Regardless if the film is too icy or cerebral to be a best picture nominee, what these reviews single out is the indisputable craftsmanship and focus of Ms. Bigelow that I could totally see her being a “lone director” nominee for this film.

    As far as Chastain versus Lawrence, let’s not get trite about rewarding the “noble” role. It doesn’t matter if one is playing a somewhat lascivious widow or a CIA analyst, what matters is the talent and dedication they put into their roles–not if the role is more “politically correct” than the others. And the best actress race is FAR from over than what people are saying…we’ll start to see the contention once the French ladies (Riva and Cotillard) start racking up the critics’ prizes and shake up the race.

  35. Cut the crap and quit being too sensitive. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t your sister, or is she?
    Another fanboy getting disgruntled by people who don’t worship his goddess. How old are you?

  36. steandric

    We had something close enough last year which was overlooked, underrated, ignored, taken for granted, put aside and snubbed — Fair Game.

    And now, people are excited because there is a fantasy darling starlet Jessica Chastain in the movie.

  37. Paddy, I taught an elementary class last week and kids were using queen/fag as insults for each other, so it was just too close to home and I was too tired to detect your humour, sorry for that.

    Jerry, you might want to find a theory better than ‘people who don’t go apeshit over Lawrence’s Tiffany MUST have a problem with hot women’, because guess what, that’s NOT the only explanation. But Congratulations, it’s definitely the most idiotic one !

  38. Oh, steandric, you’re killing me. Do we have to go through this again ?

    A 35-year old classically trained Juilliard alumna who is currently starring on Broadway and getting early praise for a strong BP contender; recently received OSCAR/SAG/BAFTA/BFCA nominations for a Best Picture nominee, also the Best Supporting Actress awards of arguably the 3 most important critics’ groups (NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC); was the female lead of last year’s Palme d’Or winner; delivered 6 (!) critically acclaimed performances within a year (from Cannes to Cannes) AND is about to get the praise for her 7th (also her first lead); is most certainly NOT a starlet…that’s an ACTRESS.

    Had her 7 brilliant turns been released over a longer time period, say 7 years, nobody would have a problem with her potentially taking Best Actress this year, she would be considered someone who paid her dues. Well, guess what…SHE DID ! So IF her performance is brilliant in a good/great film, I REALLY hope she will win. Her body of work certainly backs her up, she delivered more critically acclaimed performances within a year than several Best Actress WINNERS over decade(s)-long careers, or at least I would have a hard time finding 7 brilliant performances when looking through the filmographies of actresses like Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Helen Hunt or even Gwyneth Paltrow and Natalie Portman. And I am not even saying they aren’t good/great/fantastic actresses, I’m saying if they could win, so could Chastain…IF the role and the performance are phenomenal.

  39. Phantom-I’m basing my assessment on what I’ve seen of Chastain’s work and the reviews we just read. Corliss even says that Chastain does not bring the same depth to the same type of role as Danes does in Homeland. Chastain has been around long enough (she’s 35 and not an unknown quantity) that we have a good sense of her capabilities. IMHO she is a competent actress but not a great one. Put her in SLP and tell me honestly if she could hold her own with Lawrence. (Short answer: no). This site has pushed her to the moon because she is playing an allegedly “noble role.” I have a suspicion that her noble role is historical bs, but putting that aside, I think giving an award to an allegedly important role (and who is to say what’s important) as opposed to the best performer is highly questionable. Even if I’m jumping the gun, as long as the best skilled actress gets it and not the best actress in the proper Oscar type-role. So far all I’ve heard is that Chastain is that she is playing a strong woman character in the “right” type of film and that Jennifer is allegedly in the wrong type of film, actual ability be damned.

  40. John Flake

    Best Director wins:

    Alfred Hitchcock – 0
    Martin Scorsese: 1
    Tom Hooper: possibly 2

    Either way, i’m a hypocrite because I’m pulling for Kathryn Bigelow.

  41. Winston

    All right, let’s just agree to disagree for now, we can get back to this in a month or so when we both saw BOTH films.

    Until then, please don’t alter quotes to further your point. Richard Corliss didn’t say she doesn’t bring the same depth to the same type of role as Danes does in Homeland, he said her role doesn’t have a personal aspect or ‘defining neuroses’, Carrie does. That doesn’t mean Chastain doesn’t bring the same depth, it simply means her role doesn’t have the luxury of conveniently flashy acting opportunities a mental disorder or a forbidden love could provide an actress. Here is the actual quote from the review, which by the way praised Chastain and her character :

    “As a bright young woman driven to bring down an al Qaeda terrorist, Maya shares aspects of Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison in the Showtime series Homeland, but she lacks Carrie’s defining neuroses — or much other personal biography. What are Maya’s political beliefs? Who are her family and friends back home? Does she have a sex life? Doesn’t matter: she is her job. In a way, Maya is the CIA equivalent of Bigelow: a strong woman who has mastered a man’s game.”

  42. Having read The Help and seen what Chastain did with her depressed character (nothing I had imagined, nor would have expected from her considering her body of work; quite the contrary) and having seen Silver Lining Playbook and watched Lawrence expand her range from Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games, I attest to the great talent of the both of them.

    For Winston to judge Chastain on a performance that doesn’t exist (his hypothetical version of Tiffany), because he’s frustrated by blogging politics is absurd. As of yet, none of Chastain’s high-profile roles have been comedies. And, last time I checked, Hollywood doesn’t offer a great deal of complex lead comedic roles for women.

    That being said, my expectations for Chastain and ZDT are pretty low. I get skeptical whenever Importance comes into play with the hype. The role doesn’t sound like anything any actress would bat out of the park, compared to a role like Tiffany. But, if she adds a depth that’s unimaginable at this point, then what I’ve just written is irrelevant.

    I have to wait a few weeks before I can actually speak with any merit. I guess that’s why I come on here.

    Hope you enjoyed the hot air from yours truly.

  43. manrico1967

    Ideally the Oscar should go to the most deserving work. But history matters. Oscars are given in a vacuum.

    Regardless of how good their movies are Bigelow and Hooper I think are out of contention simply because they won 3 and 2 years ago respectively.

    Spielber’s would be a 3rd. best director Oscar. The first one since William Wyler in ’59 for BEN-HUR. It helps that his last win was 14 years ago. And his is one the great ones.

    Ang Lee won 7 years ago. Enough time has passed so that the voters wouldn’t feel it is too soon for a second one. Also, it is the general consensus that Lee belongs in any list of great directors.

    Ben Affleck has not yet won an director Oscar. ARGO seems to be a movie (almost) everybody likes. This is his 3rd. directorial effort, and he seems to keep noticeably better with each movie. Also, the academy has a long history of awarding actors turned directors.

    Daniel Day-Lewis gives a performance that ranks with Peter O’Toole’s in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Marlon Brando’s in ON THE WATERFRONT and Laurence Olivier’s in RICHARD III. But he won his second Oscar just 5 years ago.
    On the other hand, if not him, who?

    Denzel Washington would also win his 3rd. Oscar. Albeit one of them is for supporting.

    Phoenix? He did not make himself any favors with his comments about the Oscars or with crazy rapper thing. And THE MASTER seems to have fallen off the radar.

    John Hawkes? He plays a highly sympathetic character with great charm and the physicality of the role is reminiscent of Day-Lewis’ work in MY LEFT FOOT, which earned him his first OSCAR.

    At this point my predictions are:

    Picture: LINCOLN
    Director: Spielberg (I think the academy is ready to give him a third OSCAR).
    Actor: Day-Lewis (Ordinarily I would not predict an actor winning his 3rd. Oscar at all, much less just 5 years after his second. But I really can’t see any other actor winning.)

  44. manrico1967

    Oops….

    I meant: “Oscar are NOT given in a vacuum”

  45. Great so both of these movies are getting great to very good responses, can’t wait for December to start with all these Critics awards, that is when we’ll get an idea of how thinks are shaping up for the big night!!

    I watched Argo yesterday and well i really liked it but i don’t see it as an “Oscar winning” film. Its impressive in a few departments but as a whole, i don’t see it like that. I declared Les Miz the winner ever since the first look so lets see what happens. Happy for Bigelow and Chastain, ZD30 is one of my most anticipated movies of the awards season.

  46. manrico, The Master will be right back on the radar when the critics’ groups start announcing.

  47. Unlikely hood

    Welcome to the phantom show! :)

  48. One thing I’ve noticed in the three reviews is that the reviewer compares Maya to Bigelow: Both are women taking charge in a male-dominated world. Bear with me on this but with Hurt Locker, this was only alluded to and helped build the narrative of that Oscar race.

    I wonder if the media will frame Zero Dark Thirty, and Bigelow’s journey as a director, adding to the film’s reception. We all know that the Oscar race is about the director with the best narrative, and Bigelow might have a new narrative–one that directly connects to a character in her film–forced onto her (again) this go-around.

  49. From Box Office Mojo:

    “While Breaking Dawn and Skyfall ranked first and second, respectively, the real all-star of the weekend was third place finisher Lincoln. In its second nationwide outing, the Steven Spielberg political drama was impressively up 19 percent to an estimated $25.02 million ($34.1 million five-day). The movie has already grossed $62.2 million; it’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to play over the next few weeks, but it does now appear guaranteed to earn over $100 million.”

    PS – This year is crowded as hell. More than a couple movies and actors/actresses are going to get “snubbed”, so to speak. And a lot of people are going to be mad about that. But it’s a good thing for us as film fans that there is so much greatness this year, the best one since 2007.

  50. enotS ahsaS

    Best Director Prediction:

    1. Ben Affleck – Argo (Has the ‘damn good movie’ vote, see The Social Network, Munich)

    2. Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master (Has the arthouse vote, see Tree of Life, City of God, Diving Bell & the Butterfly)

    3. Tom Hooper – Les Miserables (Has the feelgood, event movie vote, see Chicago, Avatar, Shakespeare in Love)

    4. Ang Lee – Life of Pi (Has the Sentimental vote, see Hugo)

    5. Steven Spielberg – Lincoln (Has the veteran and ‘safe movie’ vote, see Frost/Nixon, Master & Commander, Vera Drake)

  51. @Eric:
    I too noticed that comparison of the no-nonsense woman in a man’s world Maya character to Bigelow in all three reviews. I believe that THR said it’s her most personal film yet. The reviewers see Maya as a stand-in for Bigelow. It’s tricky to use it for an Oscar campaign because it relies too much on gender politics. Bigelow doesn’t like touching that hot potatoe. These reviews make the director’s race exciting. I thought Ben Afflect had the Oscar in the bag but ZD30 sounds like Bigelow’s masterpiece. Looking forward to seeing it and Chastain’s lead performance.

  52. ChrisFlick

    Saw Silver Linings Playbook. Took awhile to relax into the movie because frankly I associate Robert DeNiro with crap movies, for most of the last decade that is. Thought both Cooper and Lawrence were fine, he really does carry it, which I did not expect. The best part of the movie is it’s sense of place and depiction of a community. Tiffany is an OK character, more of a writer’s construct, but she is played with great charm and charisma. Having said that, if I wasn’t reading it here at Awards Daily all the time it would never occur to me that this was an Oscar destined performance. I think someone else can grab it.

  53. @Jerry

    I doubt those comparisons will be used in campaign materials, but like the battle of the exes/David and Goliath media framing of a few years ago, Bigelow is sure to have “her most personal film yet” narrative forced onto her. I think something like a strong narrative attached to ZD30 can really boost the film’s chances even though it may distract from the film itself. I mean, look at the other films currently: Which ones have the best “director’s narrative” Lincoln for sure, but Les Miz? I’m not sure. I think we’re in a moment getting caught up in the film, but once the season kicks in, the narrative will come into play big time.

  54. While I appreciate Corliss’ review is positive, I find the title of the article ‘The girl who got bin Laden’ to be patronising. No way would you ever see the headline ‘The boy who got bin Laden’. I understand it flows better with the alliteration, but to me it undermines the message about strong women when you label them ‘girls’.

  55. @Bec: the title is a nod to the tough and smart fictional character Lisbeth Salander of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/Girl who played with Fire/Girl who Kicked a Hornet’s nest”. It’s a popculture reference. The reviewer never refers to Jessica Chastain or her character as a ‘girl’ instead of a ‘woman’.

  56. Obvs I haven’t seen ZDT yet, but I’m a little skeptical about the concern that similarity to Argo might hurt both films. Tonally, they seem altogether different, and 1998 serves as a good example of how much tonal difference can mean (Saving Private Ryan / The Thin Red Line, Shakespeare in Love / Elizabeth).

    In any case, if I were Affleck, I’d be praying for Bigelow to bump out Russell and Anderson but not Ang Lee. If he goes up against Bigelow, Hooper, Lee, and Spielberg, his Adrien Brody factor goes way up. In that scenario, it would be much easier for him to win without Argo taking Best Picture.

  57. Sasha LOVED Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain’s performance. Can’t wait to read her review !

  58. AdamA – Great comparison with 1998 in terms of 2 sets of films with similar subjects/themes/styles:

    1998:
    Saving Private Ryan – The Thin Red Line
    Shakespeare in Love – Elizabeth

    2012:
    Argo – Zero Dark Thirty
    Les Miserables – Lincoln

  59. Not saying much, Mr. McCarthy from a person who has a wafer-thin directors’ resume’, whose last mainstream film of note before 2009 was Point Break, and the most undeserving best director winner in the history of the Oscars, period.

  60. PaulH – THL was rather impressively directed. Tom Hooper the following year was a far worse choice for Best Director.

  61. Bob Burns

    Wonder what this does to Argo’s standing. Argo is thrilling and exciting, excellent, dry not dramatic. ZD30 could make Argo seem like a documentary.

  62. @Jerry: Thanks for your comment.

    I understand Lisbeth Salander is a popculture icon. Physically she possesses many traits which indicate that although she is a woman in terms of years, she has the body of a girl (which obviously leads to her being underestimated time and again).

    Nevertheless, Lisbeth Salander is not a girl. Neither is Jessica Chastain’s character Maya (she doesn’t even have the physical resemblance to a girl which was used to justify the label in Lisbeth’s case). I think it’s lazy and patronising to trot the phrase out because they are both strong, smart and skilled. These characteristics are why I believe they are deserving of respect and the acknowledgment that they are women, not girls.

  63. Review from Kris Tapley of HitFix. Not clear if he liked it or not. Seems like he is hedging his bets. Sasha clearly loved it so I’m curious to see her full review. http://t.co/3IrROeD5

  64. Zero Dark Thirty seems to be going the non-emotional route, opting for no outside perspective, according to Kris Tapley. So I think you have it reversed, Bob Burns: Zero Dark Thirty will come off more documentary-like than Argo. As a huge fan of procedurally (All the Presidents Men & Zodiac are personal favorites), I am jazzed for ZDT.

  65. Procedurally=Procedurals (stupid auto-correct)

  66. rufussondheim

    I’m really tiring of seeing Les Miserables labeled as a feel-good movie when it so clearly is not. It’s a tearjerker in the most classic sense of the word. Just because it is a musical does not make it a feel-good movie. Most major/classic musicalsoriginally debuting from 1970 to 2000 were not “feel-good.” You can blame Sondheim for that.

    Thank you.

  67. A point; How is that a character without a backstory is not worthy of awards mention ( Affleck in Argo) while the same type of character is here lauded as Oscar-worthy ? Is it because she is a female ? It seems as though not all character-developments are created equal.

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