'Zero Dark Thirty': Has Hollywood Found This Year's Best Picture?

zero-dark-thirty-jessica-chastain-2012
The Academy Award-winning team that gave us The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal, screened their latest project, Zero Dark Thirty, over Thanksgiving.

The docu-drama thriller chronicles the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden and, if early reactions are any indications, it looks like the award-winning filmmakers may have more Oscars in their sights.

Thirty, which stars Jessica Chastain (Lawless) as the CIA operative spearheading the search for Bin Laden, went into production before the subject of its manhunt was caught and killed by Seal Team 6. Real-life events forced the filmmakers to re-shape the script, an effort that seems to have paid off.

The film is garnering some of the best reviews of any release this year. The near-unanimous critical praise is a strong portent that Oscar attention and box office success are in Thirty's future, as it ramps for limited release on December 19 before going wide on January 11, 2013.

So just how good is the movie? Celebuzz has complied a sampling of critical reactions from a variety of critics below.

Richard CorlissTime

"First and last, Zero Dark Thirty is a movie, and a damned fine one. Like Argo — which, with all due respect to director Ben Affleck and the film’s many admirers, ZDT blows out of the water — it dramatizes a true-life international adventure with CIA agents as the heroes...This is movie journalism that snaps and stings, that purifies a decade’s clamor and clutter into narrative clarity, with a salutary kick."

James RocchiBox Office.com

"The decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden races by in a 159-minute adrenaline-fueled chase in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which unfolds with certainty and smart decisions on both sides of the camera."

Todd McCarthyThe Hollywood Reporter

"Zero Dark Thirty matches form and content to pretty terrific ends... Kathryn Bigelow’s and Mark Boal’s heavily researched successor to Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker will be tough for some viewers to take, not only for its early scenes of torture, including waterboarding, but due to its denial of conventional emotionalism and non-gung ho approach to cathartic revenge-taking."

Drew McWeenyHitFix.com

"[Zero Dark Thirty] has an integrity to it that is bracing and adult, and it manages to deliver a major visceral experience without ever once bending to Hollywood convention.  This is a film that knows exactly what it's doing, and does it without compromise."

Peter DebrugeVariety.com

"Far more ambitious than [Bigelow's] The Hurt Locker, yet nowhere near so tripwire-tense, this procedure-driven, decade-spanning docudrama nevertheless rivets for most of its running time by focusing on how one female CIA agent with a far-out hunch was instrumental in bringing down America's most wanted fugitive."

Can't wait to see Zero Dark Thirty? Sound off below in the comments, and watch the film's theatrical trailer!

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