When Kathryn Bigelow walked away with honors for Best Picture and Best Director at the 2009 Academy Awards, she was the little guy. The narrative was David vs. Goliath as James Cameron's "Avatar" was the big dog on campus, the money-guzzler, "the future." This year things are a little different.
"Zero Dark Thirty" arrives amid a cloud of secrecy. Columbia Pictures -- and Bigelow and Mark Boal -- have been very careful about what is and isn't known about the film, which details the near-decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Even the particulars of Jessica Chastain's character had been held somewhat close to the chest. But enough peek-a-boo.
The film is as clinical as they come, a 160-minute procedural. It details Chastain's "Maya," what may be a slight composite but is in all likelihood "Jen," the woman recently heralded by the member of Seal Team Six who wrote a book about the final raid on Bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. She came into the CIA young, entered the Bin Laden case early and did nothing else until he was confirmed dead.