On Thursday morning, the pulled-from-the-headlines thriller Zero Dark Thirty took a solid four Golden Globe nominations, for writing, acting, directing, and Best Picture. The Globes are just the beginning: when the competition opens up to the technical categories come Oscar time, ZDT could walk away with even more. And Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to The Hurt Locker could win them too, as evidenced by the latest trailer for the film.
Here are five reasons visible in the above spot that make me confident Zero Dark Thirty could go all the way this awards season:
1. Jessica Chastain's Fervent, Understated Performance
The keystone of Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain's Maya ends up as one of the best characters of the year, an opinionated but respectful newcomer who evolves over the ten year hunt for bin Laden into a obsessive seeker of truth. In 2011, Chastain proved herself to be one of the most well-rounded performers in Hollywood. In 2012, she proves herself as one of the fiercest. You see her real claws come out late in the trailer, insisting that she has 100% confidence in her knowledge of bin Laden's whereabouts.
2. Dialogue That's as Tense as the Action
ZDT relies heavily on dialogue and the dissection of information, but Mark Boal's script — which is on the top of many voters' minds — layers every bit of exposition with distinct voice. Around the 40 second mark, Mark Strong chimes in with a few words of aggressive wisdom, a wake-up call for an intelligence department that's uncovered nothing. It's a brutal scene in the movie, but simply rattling off facts wouldn't amount to the weight displayed in the moment. It's through Boal's raises the stakes through capturing the sound of human fear.
3. Bigelow's Action Style in Non-action Scenes
Bigelow showed a real prowess for modern action filmmaking in The Hurt Locker, a heart-pounding inside look at the life of bomb defuser. But Zero Dark Thirty isn't an action movie (even while featuring a few explosions, shootouts, and military operations). Think The Social Network or All the President's Men, stories of larger-than-life journeys conducted in small scale rooms. Luckily, like those films, Bigelow understands how to invigorate close quarters conversations or silent moments. Whether Maya is sifting through paperwork or taking a silent moment in the bathroom, scenes in Zero Dark Thirty always feel like the world is on the line.
4. The Cinematography of the Raid
Expect Zero Dark Thirty to impress on the technical side thanks to an amazing score by Alexandre Desplat, spine-tingling sound design by Paul N. J. Ottosson, and cinematography by Greig Fraser that creates the atmosphere more mystery. The finale's infiltration of the bin Laden compound is now a well-known incident, but only when you see it portrayed in dim twilight do you realize how terrifying the work of Seal Team Six really is.
5. A Cast of Actors People Love
When it comes to Zero Dark Thirty's Oscar chances, don't expect too many other nods outside of Chastain in the acting department. With a sprawling ensemble, it's hard to pick just one actor or actress who stands out — but the excellence of every performer is the foundation for what makes the movie work. Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini all pop in the new spot above and all make a huge impact as part of the clockwork that helped pay off ten years of work. Highly compelling and never over the top, it's the entire cast who will carry Zero Dark Thirty to the Best Picture race.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]