What is the purpose of a movie? Is it to inform? To entertain? Zero Dark Thirty may not be the most accurate movie, however, it never claims to be a reenactment of the actual events that transpired. Despite these inaccuracies, I firmly believe that Zero Dark Thirty is the best picture of the year.
Zero Dark Thirty opens on the title screen with the statement, "based on firsthand accounts of actual events." While John McCain (R-AZ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Carl Levin (D-MI) have collectively written a letter condemning the movie, calling it, "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama Bin Laden ... " that has no impact on whether or not I enjoyed the movie.
While one could say that the torture scenes alone, accurate or not, are unnecessary and display gratuitous violence, I think director Kathryn Bigelow is at her best when portraying Maya, the main character, as someone you are rooting for with her unbridled passion for hunting this man, despite her inherent flaws. By displaying the torture scenes in such a gruesome way, Bigelow paints the Iraq War in the way it should be: brutally violent.
Furthermore, much of the controversy stems from the idea that the movie condones torture, as some say it suggests that without information gained through torture, we would have never received the information needed to capture Bin Laden. Filmmaker Michael Moore said it best when he said, "these are works of fiction — Zero Dark Thirty, 24 ... "
The important thing to remember throughout the film is that it is just that, a film. It is not a history lesson, not a teaching tool, but rather, entertainment. For two and a half hours, I sat in the theater, on the edge of my seat, despite knowing exactly what was going to happen. Despite knowing that they would make it out OK during the raid, I still clung to the armrests of my chair, wishing for their safety.
Though Bigelow is not nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, a sham in my humble opinion as three of the most deserving candidates were left off this year's list in Bigelow, Tarantino, and Affleck, Jessica Chastain rightfully won Best Actress at the Golden Globes, and turned in a once-in-a-lifetime performance to earn it. Through the incredible direction by Bigelow and the Oscar worthy performance from Chastain, the only thing between Zero Dark Thirty and the golden statue for Best Picture is the controversy.
Hawk Koch, the treasurer of the Academy and producer of the show, was once asked what makes something the best picture of the year. He said, "Best Picture is a movie that moves them. Best Picture is a movie that teaches them something they had no idea they didn't know. Best Picture is a movie that they ... talk about incessantly." Zero Dark Thirty did just that, as it reignited the conversation about torture, and artfully presented one of the biggest stories in recent American history.