This year for the Hollmann Awards, we're counting down my Top Ten of the Year -- one entry per day, coupled with two categories -- leading up the naming of Best Picture of the Year.
#5. Zero Dark Thirty
dir: Kathryn Bigelow
wr: Mark Boal
cin: Greig Fraser
Let's get this out of the way. I am not someone who regularly judges a film's merits based on whether or not I can gel with it politically. I don't think Nixon was some sad-sack boogeyman, and I ain't sure about the second shooter question re: JFK, but you better believe I'm an Oliver Stone fan. Simply put, his movies are masterfully edited, audaciously shot, ambitiously written, and fucking entertaining. If a movie turns me off and I cite the stance it takes as a reason, it's probably more to do with a failure to comfortably integrate said point-of-view within the context of the narrative.
Which is all a long way of saying that I have no idea what Zero Dark Thirty's stance is on torture, and really, I find that it doesn't matter all that much. All I know is that I saw a thriller that had me engrossed from beginning to end, even through the slower, middle section.
Let's talk about the middle section, that big chunk where the investigation is leading nowhere, with leads that dead-end as often as agents. It's a plateau as far as forward momentum goes, and I love it. Rare is the time when we get to watch a thriller and see the agents actually, you know, working, but Zero Dark Thirty gives us a look at the amount of time spent following a lead. Because this is the real world, you can't just run into a random house and start shooting; you need some sort of evidence proving you had your reasons.
At the center of it all is Maya, who never falters in her convictions -- and when we learn that this is the only assignment she's ever worked on, we know why. She has to be right, because she's the only one who has devoted their complete, undivided attention to this one subject. And at the end, when he's dead, there is no triumph. Are those tears cathartic, or are they a frustrated, "Now what? NOW WHAT?" Girl just spent ten years dedicated to one thing. Now what?
It says something, too, that even during the raid sequence, a guy who called everyone in his family when bin Laden was killed (me), was left thinking about these poor kids and how they're going to grow up only knowing that these uniformed white men stormed their house one night and shot their dads to death, and how is that helping, really? Yet I don't know what other tactic they could take. It's a grey area. It should be.
Zero Dark Thirty is nominated for Editing (lost to Cloud Atlas), Picture (all in good time), Director and Actress. Both of which are the focus of today.
5. Kathryn Bigelow
Zero Dark Thirty
4. Quentin Tarantino
3. Joe Wright
2. Leos Carax
1. Tom Tykwer/Andy Wachowski/Lana Wachowski
5. Jessica Chastain as Maya
Zero Dark Thirty
4. Keira Knightley as Anna Karenina
3. Judi Dench as Evelyn Greenslade
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
2. Marion Cotillard as Stephanie
Rust and Bone
1. Nicole Kidman as Charlotte Bless
Sorry for the lateness of the post, it's been a busy week. But you can catch me Sunday on a live stream of an Oscar party in Hollywood, so it's well worth it!
Previously: #6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
#7. 21 Jump Street
#8. Moonrise Kingdom
#10. Beasts of the Southern Wild