Zero Dark Thirty & Silver Linings Playbook

I have to start off by thanking my boyfriend for supporting my desire to see as many Oscar-nominated films as possible, a commitment I make every year but am actually sticking to this time. So far I have seen Les Mis, which I am still crying about; The Hobbit, which I believe was nominated for some sound or scenery or editing thing; Argo and now Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook.

Zero Dark Thirty

Was insane. Making a movie about killing Osama Bin Laden could have been quite the grandiose project for other filmmakers, with all the swelling music and big heroic scenes and dramatization, but this was not that. Although I have no military or government experience this seemed pretty realistic and basic to me, or at least as realistic and basic as they could make a 10-year-long secretive mission look.

Jessica Chastain plays the main character, a girl who was chosen right out of high school and thrown into the CIA for the sole purpose of finding and killing Bin Laden. She is the only consistent character in the movie — I wish Coach Taylor had been a bit more involved, but I’ll get over it — therefore is the only one you really “get to know”, but I honestly don’t think it would have worked if too many other people were involved. She definitely deserved the Golden Globe, and she’ll probably get the Oscar too.

The movie jumps around quite a bit so you have to pay close attention, but I guess it would have been much much longer if they had included all or most of what happened between 9/11 and the past couple of years. A movie theater audience can only sit for so long. I was very impressed with the cinematography — yes that’s a word, and an Oscars category — and I found it very interesting that they never showed Bin Laden’s face. Who wants to be known as the actor known for playing that guy, right?

Silver Linings Playbook

I remember being pretty surprised that this was nominated for Golden Globes and Oscars because from the previews I thought it was just one of those serious/somewhat “indie” romantic comedies, like a more sophisticated Nicholas Sparks thing, but nominated it was so I assumed there must have been more to it. There was not.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie was very good and I liked it very much, but I came away from it wondering why it was nominated for awards because it was in fact a serious/somewhat “indie” romantic comedy/more sophisticated Nicholas Sparks thing. Bradley Cooper does a great job playing Pat, the mentally unstable, disgruntled husband who has been cheated on, and Jennifer Lawrence does a pretty good slutty widow impression, but neither performance really struck me as award-winning. Both of them had some very serious mental health problems that were not really addressed after a certain point in the movie, and that really bothered me. He’s suffering from bipolar disorder for crying out loud, making out with a pretty girl does not fix that!

There are, however, some very funny scenes with Pat’s family, including Robert De Niro playing the crazed Eagles fan dad, and the most bizarre ballroom dance competition I have ever seen. Oh, and fun fact: Julia Stiles makes an unexpected appearance, and has a fabulous new hairdo.

So I still highly recommend both films, but more so Zero Dark Thirty, but if you can’t see them before the Oscar’s I think you’ll be ok. What is not ok, though, is the fact that I will probably not see any more of the nominated films, such as Lincoln and The Impossible, and The Academy continues to nominate films I have never even heard of, like The Master and Amour. So rude, Academy.

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2 thoughts on “Zero Dark Thirty & Silver Linings Playbook

  1. Kate,

    In regards to ZDT, it’s funny you mentioned loving the cinematography even if it wasn’t nominated for the Oscar…. I loved it too. Another thing, this was Maya’s story, so it’s only right that she is the protagonist of the film. Bigelow wanted to make it known that over the best 10 years, Maya was the one (and this is true) who pushed for the capture/killing of Bin Laden. She gave her life to that one mission and it paid off in the end, even if there wasn’t any real catharsis. The film ends with her alone and crying.. is it because the mission is finally over? Or is it because she lost years of her life, friends and enemies.

    For almost the entire film Chastain was surrounded by men, but she always held the heaviest screen presence. Even if Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor) had more screen time Chastain would have continued to put him in his place.. (the hallway scene). The director wanted to cover every major event that happened between 2001 and Bin Laden’s death (which she did with precise direction) .. so yes, you do have to pay close attention to whats happening. I wish you would have mentioned more about the film… like the torture scenes, character deaths, the killing of Dan’s monkeys 😦 .. the hotel bombing.. Maya’s influence on seal team six .. anyway, good review.

    P.S. I’m still sobbing over Les Mis too. HUGH JACKMAN!!

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