Friday, January 11, 2013

Best Director Should Have Been A Seven Person Race

It's been several hours since I and about 80 other people became the first people to see Zero Dark 30,  which showed how we finally found Osama Bin Laden. Sadly, how that story was told may have cost Kathryn Bigelow another Oscar. That's what happens when the Senate wants to investigate you for exposing alleged secrets.

If that were the case, when will Ben Affleck be investigated by the FBI for Argo? That IS why he's not up for Best Director, either, right?

Or did the Academy just screw this up...again?

Well, if Steven Spielberg winds up winning for Lincoln, it would make sense. I just hope he points out that he may have won, but two people who belonged in the race should have been there.

Maybe those torture scenes scared off Oscar voters from Zero Dark 30, but they didn't prove that the movie supports it. Remember, they happened in the scenes set before 2009. The movie reflected what methods the CIA were using, and how the wounds were still pretty fresh when Dan, played by Jason Clarke, was severely interrogating that detainee. When Obama arrived, the rules had changed.

The one who played the game, who we will always called Maya, never wanted to stop playing. Jessica Chastain is fantastic as the CIA agent who had been looking for bin Laden her whole life. Seeing her gain experience and confidence is fascinating. In her first interrogation, she stays in the back while Dan does the dirty work. Slowly, she steps forward, and takes over the job, even as she is nearly killed by one bomb and sees her best friend blown up by another, disguised as a possible lead to bin Laden. The movie also shows that looking for him can be just as frustrating as looking for any other horrible criminal. Mistakes were make, but it takes one break or a second look to change anything. This is one girl with a mission, and she will see it through for those who died, including her friends.

I liked two scenes where Bigelow shows how tough the job really is. One of the CIA staffers tries to find the elusive courier helping bin Laden in a crowded street in Pakistan. She pulls back the camera to show how tough it is to find him, much less his face.

The other scene is when Seal Team Six heads to Abbottabad to the place where bin Laden is...they hope. Seeing the soldiers blast through the place, then carefully look through each room, was very tense. Seeing them find bin Laden was almost a relief.

Despite all the controversy over Zero Dark 30, Bigelow was not tossed off the Best Director race because of politics. It may have been that for some voters, but maybe it was also the fact they had problems voting with the new internet ballots.

Why else was Affleck also snubbed?  His victories in the Critics Choice Award and Golden Globes may suggests that. Argo was a basic political thriller, where a CIA operative uses a fake movie project to get several US Embassy employees out of Tehran. The tension there was mainly the fear of being caught, or that the ruse may be exposed. What's so controversial about that?

Whoever wins Best Director at the Oscars should have an asterisk next to the name. While the list may be impressive, including two that made what could be the best indie and foreign movies of 2012, it will always be called incomplete.

For the record, I think Bigelow will get the Directors Guild Award, but Affleck's success shows the Best Director for 2012 may not be the one who will be holding an Oscar--or be allowed to compete for one.

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