"Zero Dark Thirty"

To fully disclose my bias, I felt emotionally castrated when the media rebranded “Zero Dark Thirty” from “highly anticipated Osama bin Laden movie” to “amoral cesspool.” The pain feels especially raw considering oddsmakers, all of the news outlets, and Harvard’s own Ben T. Zauzmer ’15 have gone into conclave to choose “Argo” as the name of the Academy’s first-born son (or 85th-born). However, it is truly “Zero Dark Thirty” that should storm the stage of the Kodak Theater, for Kathryn Bigelow has erected a thunderous, titanic monument to obsession: Jessica Chastain’s Maya, steely gazed and fully sprung, Athena-style, from the director’s vision. Jealous ex-husband James Cameron looks on.

If it ends in naught for “Argo,” then it will be “Lincoln” that succeeds; however, the distilling nature of the prediction system also ends in simplified damnation—“Django Unchained” is too controversial, “Les Misérables” is too corny, and “Zero Dark Thirty” could be renamed “Torture: Apply Directly to the Foreskin.” At 8:30 Sunday, it will be a funeral march for Tarantino’s Siegfried, empty chairs at empty tables for the “Argo” contingent as they thank the Academy onstage, and pursed lips for the Bigelow Squad. But even though the Best Picture win is pure politics, the nominees themselves all deserve your time—especially “Zero Dark Thirty.”

—Staff writer Christine A. Hurd can be reached at