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This Is Torture! Just Go See Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow Jessica Chastain John McCain

The torture scandal surrounding Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar nominated movie Zero Dark Thirty has somewhat marred the acclaimed movie's release, though the message from its creators is clear: go and watch film as it is supposed to be enjoyed, in a movie theatre free of propaganda, criticism, and silly American politicians.

The movie - starring Jessica Chastain and focusing on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden - is at the centre of a storm concerning its torture scenes, specifically that it suggests illegal methods were used in the acquirement of intelligence. A number of pundits and senators, including the former presidential candidate John McCain, attacked the movie in an open letter to Sony Pictures saying it was a "grossly inaccurate and misleading" insinuation that torture led to Bin Laden's location. Refusing to be swayed and judging the movie on its cinematic merits, critics have been unanimous in their praise. Cath Clarke of Time Out magazine said, "This is an instant classic," while Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times mused, "Kathryn Bigelow proves herself once again to be a master of heightened realism and narrative drive in this retelling of the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden." Turan's use of the word "retelling" is important - Zero Dark Thirty is exactly that, the retelling of the story by a screenwriter paid to make the story interesting and fun for audiences. Bigelow could have made a documentary on the hunt for Bin Laden though we're guessing it would have been largely boring until somewhere near the end. In fact, the Oscar winning filmmaker defends the use of torture and insists it was, in fact, part of the process. In an essay to the L.A. Times, she writes, "Experts disagree sharply on the facts and particulars of the intelligence hunt, and doubtlessly that debate will continue. As for what I personally believe, which has been the subject of inquiries, accusations and speculation, I think Osama Bin Laden was found due to ingenious detective work. Torture was, however, as we all know, employed in the early years of the hunt."

In a parting blow, Bigelow added, "As a lifelong pacifist, I support all protests against the use of torture, and quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind. But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen."

Continue reading: This Is Torture! Just Go See Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow On Zero Dark Thirty Torture Scenes: "It's Part Of The Story"

Kathryn Bigelow

A lot has been said about Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty. One camp asks, how dare you suggest America uses torture? While another says, how dare you suggest that torture works?

It's not a case of left wing or right wing politics, both side of the spectrum have a problem with the film. It is worth noting, however, that a very large group also think it's brilliant, as is evidenced by its strong Oscar nomination slate. "It's part of the story," Bigelow told the BBC, defending the scenes in the film. "To omit it would have been whitewashing history." She also insisted that the film does not suggest the al-Qaeda leader would not have been located without so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques", adding that "That's a misrepresentation of the film." Some senators have criticized the film for perpetuating "the myth that torture is effective".

Bigelow not only defends the film, but also the raid, saying that it was "an incredibly diligent, incredibly complex and successful operation that brought the world's most dangerous man to justice". The film, which Bigelow describes as "a portrait of dedication, determination, commitment and sacrifice", is released in the UK and Ireland on 25 January.

Continue reading: Kathryn Bigelow On Zero Dark Thirty Torture Scenes: "It's Part Of The Story"

Kathryn Bigelow Defends Zero Dark Thirty; 'Illogical To Ignore Torture'

Kathryn Bigelow

Following the criticism aimed at Zero Dark Thirty over the counter-terrorism film’s handling of torture and interrogation scenes, its director Kathryn Bigelow has taken to the Los Angeles Times to answer back to those who – at their most heightened – have been calling for a boycott of cinema screenings.

The film portrays the US army’s search for Osama Bin Laden, including soldiers aggressive interrogation of certain people. In an impassioned piece, Bigelow insisted that she supported every American’s 1st amendment right and their view to have a voice over her picture. However, she added “I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.”

Bigelow is facing criticism parallel to the sort that Quentin Tarantino is receiving for his depiction of slavery in his Western film Django Unchained; namely, critics believing that they are both endorsing the controversial points of their films, when the directors insist they are only depicting them. “On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices” commented Bigelow in her piece.

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Awards Snubs And Surprises Are Great! What Good Does Winning A Golden Globe Or Oscar Deliver?

Ben Affleck Kathryn Bigelow Academy Of Motion Pictures And Sciences Steven Spielberg

When neither Ben Affleck nor Kathryn Bigelow had been nominated for the Oscar for Directing there was absolute uproar. While they are both wonderful film makers, what good would it do if they won all the awards for all the films they make? At this juncture, one must ask, what are movie awards even for and what do they want from a film? If it were judged merely fiscally, Taken 2 would be doing quite well, and that would truly be a travesty. No, awards are to reward those who are doing something that is beyond what was expected of them, and something that adds to their craft. Sometimes awards don't meet expectation, and while there are plenty of sore losers there are many more worthy winners. But what good do movie awards actually do? And who for?

At the risk of being completely obvious- it does a lot of good for the film makers. Aside from that heart swelling feeling of pride, as Reuters reports, winning a Golden Globe can sky rocket a movie's money making potential. "[F]ilms nominated for Golden Globes tend to do far better at the box office than the average film" they say. "A Golden Globe win is worth $14.2 million" while an Oscar win is lagging far behind, a win for which gains the production an average of $3m. For both these major awards, a winning movie is winning literally millions of dollars. 

Plus, of course, everyone involved in a winning movie has an instant boost in their career. For the small timers who do well out of nowhere, the sky suddenly becomes the limit. 2008's Slumdog Millionaire was made by Film4, which historically makes small budget, independent films, but it won 8 Oscars. It was Dev Patel's first major film role and his big break which has since thrust him into other large budget productions alongside some major stars, including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel alongside British greats Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. Likewise, Kathryn Bigelow had already made eight movies, but none of them had received any major critical response or awards. With Hurt Locker's enormous winning streak, her career now knows no bounds and her newest film Zero Dark Thirty, it seems, is about to receive the same glorifying treatment.

Continue reading: Awards Snubs And Surprises Are Great! What Good Does Winning A Golden Globe Or Oscar Deliver?

Zero Dark Thirty Jumps 16 Places To Take The US Box Office Charts

Kathryn Bigelow Steven Spielberg Les Miserables

A quiet week saw the Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty jump a staggering 16 places to take the number 1 slot in the U.S Box office charts, while Ganster Squad enjoyed a tame opening.

A measly $24,000,000 was enough to land the top-spot for Kathryn Bigelow's political thriller in its 4th week. Landing second on its opening weekend was Open Road Film's, A Haunted House, which gleaned $18,817,000, a full $2m more than Gangster Squad - starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - which underwhelmed with $16,710,000. With most of the year's biggest movies already out in time for Oscar consideration, mid-late January isn't the best period for movie goers. Another controversial Oscar nominee, Quentin Tarantino' Django Unchained slipped 2 spots to 4th with $11,065,000, although it has a cumulative gross of $125.4m. Rounding off the top 5 was Golden Globe winner Les Miserables, which managed just over $10m this week, bringing it's total to just shy of $120m, a decent total for its third week in the charts.

Elsewhere, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey amassed just over $9m to bring its running total to $278.1M. It was 3rd last week. Lincoln, enjoying its 10th week in the top 10 came in 7th with $6,314,000 and Parental Guidance grabs 8th with $6,100,000. Texas Chainsaw 3D drops from the top spot to 9th with $5,150,000 and Silver Linings Playbook clambers back into the top ten from 12th with a round $5m. Figures compiled from Yahoo Movies. 

Gangster Squad Shoot Blanks As Zero Dark Thirty Tops US Box Office

Ryan Gosling Kathryn Bigelow Marlon Wayans

Zero Dark Thirty topped the second US Box Office weekend of the year as things started to pick up again with moviegoers.

January is traditionally a quiet month, with most people hunkering down until February, having spent all their cash on Christmas. However, the Oscar-nominated depiction of President Barack Obama’s search for Osama Bin Laden, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, managed to get people out of their houses and into the cinemas, with the film taking spot over the weekend with decent takings $24 million.

The film has come under much criticism, with some calling for a boycott of it and others complaining about how aggressively it portrays US interrogation techniques. Nevertheless, with its leading lady Jessica Chastain winning a Golden Globe last night (January 13) for Best Actress in a Drama, it looks like its success is here to stay. The film comfortable fought off tired horror parody A Haunted House, the Marlon Wayans-starring film taking second spot with takings of $18 million.

Continue reading: Gangster Squad Shoot Blanks As Zero Dark Thirty Tops US Box Office

The Golden Globes 2013: Who Were The Winners And Losers?

Ben Affleck Tina Fey Amy Poehler Jodie Foster Quentin Tarantino Les Miserables Steven Spielberg Kathryn Bigelow

Ben Affleck at the Golden Globes

Ben Affleck got his redemption at the Golden Globes last night (January 13)

Though the Oscars is undoubtedly the big one, there’s traditionally been a lot of love for the Golden Globes among the Hollywood fraternity, with the event being seen as a generally looser, less formal affair than its prestigious counterpart – even if the actors have had to cope with the barbs of Ricky Gervais in recent years. The jibes still came from Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, but they were delivered with far more good grace than those thrown by the British comic.

Continue reading: The Golden Globes 2013: Who Were The Winners And Losers?

Zero Dark Thirty Makes Surprise Jump To The Top Of Box Office

Kathryn Bigelow Jessica Chastain

With awards season fast approaching, every little thing can make or break a film's chances of winning big. Luckily for Zero Dark Thirty, its ascension to the top of the box office may very well end up working strongly in its favour.

Kathryn Bigelow's Osama Bin Laden manhunt film made a surprise appearance at the top of the film charts this week, taking in $24 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales and battling off some strong competition along the way too. The film, starring Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain as a CIA agent embroiled in the hunt for Bin Laden, beat off competition from the latest Wayans Brothers horror spoof A Haunted House, which took in $18.8 million over the weekend, as well as fellow new release Gangster Squad, the Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone starring modern noir, which managed to bring in just $16.7 million.

With the Golden Globe Awards happening tonight, an award or two might top off one heck of a weekend for Bigelow and her cast and crew, with the film up for four awards tonight. Bigelow, like Ben Affleck, will be looking for some love from the Globes in the director category in particular, given her Oscar snub in the division.

Odds Are On For No One As Oscars Look To Be Close

Steven Spielberg Hugh Jackman Daniel Day Lewis Jennifer Lawrence Kathryn Bigelow James Cameron Joaquin Phoenix Sally Field

With the nominations for 2013's Academy Awards being revealed today, all the fields are open in the four major categories as there seems to be no real, clear cut contenders for the top prizes.

Lincoln has taken the brunt of the nominations, with twelve nominations in total, so it looks as though Steven Spielberg's historical epic might be favourite for some of the top awards too- Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg and the film itself looking odds on favourite with Oddschecker.com. But still, are things really as clear cut as they seem? Maybe not, with the odds aside, the close(ish) ones at that, nothing really seems that clear really.

Avatar was the odds on winner back in 2010, but it was the former Mrs James Cameron, Katherine Bigelow, to see her film sweep the awards. Day-Lewis in particular has some competition in his field, with Cannes winner Joaquin Phoenix and first time nominees Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman biting at his heels. Both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty look as though they could take the top award of the night from under the president's nose, but with no Ben Affleck, it does look as though Ang Lee may be Spielberg's only competition to top director gong.

Continue reading: Odds Are On For No One As Oscars Look To Be Close

Oscar Contender Kathryn Bigelow Outside 'Late Show' Studios (Videos)

Kathryn Bigelow Steven Spielberg

She's facing huge criticism for her 5-time Oscar nominated film, Zero Dark Thirty,  which depicts the American operation to find Osama Bin Laden. But she still found time to smile to the press outside the Late Show Studios. 

With five Academy Award nominations for the 85th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Jessica Chastain), Best Original Screenplay, Sound Editing and Film Editing, Bigelow will be pretty happy, but her snub for Best Director has caused confusion. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan blamed her being overlooked on what he called Washington bullies. "Chalk up this year's (Oscar) nominations as a victory for the bullying power of the United States Senate and an undeserved loss for Zero Dark Thirty in general and director Kathryn Bigelow in particular," Turan wrote on Thursday.

Continue reading: Oscar Contender Kathryn Bigelow Outside 'Late Show' Studios (Videos)

Hot Tickets! This Weekend's US Movie Releases, Zero Dark Thirty, Gangster Squad,

Ryan Gosling Kathryn Bigelow Ewan McGregor Emma Stone Sean Penn Naomi Watts

Three films on opposite spectrums of the genre-scale go head-to-head for your hard earned cash this weekend; taut political thriller Zero Dark Thirty, 'cool' action flick Gangster Squad and heart warming drama, The Impossible all make their U.S. bows, so which one is it to be? Luckily, we can help you narrow it down.

We'll start with easily the most controversial of the bunch: Zero Dark Thirty. Directed by the unflinching Kathryn Bigelow, Zero is the story od America's hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the ugly steps it took to get him. Criticized for both suggesting that torture could work (by liberals) and that America used torture in the first place (by republicans), you can bolster your stock in the inevitable debate by going to see it. Oh, and it's a really good film, too. With an incredibly strong critical response and 5 Oscar nominations, you'll be hard pressed to see a finer film this weekend.

Check out the trailer for Zero Dark Thirty

Continue reading: Hot Tickets! This Weekend's US Movie Releases, Zero Dark Thirty, Gangster Squad,

Video - Kathryn Bigelow Strikes A Brief Pose For Paps Outside 'Late Show' Studios

'Zero Dark Thirty' director Kathryn Bigelow arrives at the New York City studios for 'The Late Show with David Letterman'. She only poses very briefly for photographers waiting outside before entering the building.

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Zero Dark Thirty At The Oscars: Your Move, America

Kathryn Bigelow

Zero Dark Thirty's five Oscar nominations threw up no surprises; the film's been critically well received and no one doubts its position amongst the contenders. Winning, however, is a different story, and it's doubtful a film that strongly suggests the use of torture by the American government will win at the country's biggest award show. 

If you put aside the debate: for v against torture (remembering that torture is always illegal, everywhere) and consider the film on its merits, it's undoubtedly a fine achievement. Kathryn Bigelow is no slouch; she's up there with the Hollywood hard-hitters and is rightly mentioned in the same breath as some of the industry's greats. What she won't do, however, is compromise. Zero Dark Thirty has been criticized for many things, most notably the glamourizing of torture and the very suggestion that torture was used to pursue Osama Bin Laden. But instead of engaging head on with the important debate that it raises, the film's detractors simply think it's too close to the bone. And that's why it won't win an Oscar.

It looks like Zero is destined to lurk among the pantheon of great films unrecognized by the Academy. Of course, there are those who see it simply as an artistic interpretation, at its purest form: a story, but it would be foolish to ignore the context of such an important film. While Bigelow might need to make a more America-friendly film to triumph again at the Oscars, her integrity remains untarnished. 

Continue reading: Zero Dark Thirty At The Oscars: Your Move, America

Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar Snub, Benh Zeitlin Takes Her Expected Place

Kathryn Bigelow Benh Zeitlin

Whenever film nominations are released for the various awards ceremonies that erupt during the January of every year, there is undoubtedly a political element behind every choice. Of the Oscar nominations that were released today, Silver Linings Playbook is the closest of any of the films to a 'comedy', and that revolves itself around mental illness- not so comic. It seems, unequivocally, that serious films are the best films, according to the various institutions that hand out prizes. It came as a great surprise, therefore, when Kathryn Bigelow's directing for the enormously successful (fiscally and critically), very, very serious film Zero Dark Thirty, was snubbed for a nomination for Best Director. The other surprise in that group was a nomination for Benh Zeitlin

There has already been much speculation surrounding her absence in the list, but the general consensus is that the controversy surrounding the film, regarding the use of torture. The Huffington Post blogger Jan Lisa Huttner cites gender as a problem, noting that with Bigelow's elision from the lineup, "for the 80th time in 84 years, all the Best Director nominees in 2013 are male." Another idea is that Bigelow has already won an Oscar for best director, and its time to give other, lesser known directors a chance at the gong. And that's probably the most likely, because Benh Zeitlin, the second biggest surprise of the list, is someone that almost no one has heard of.

So, who is Benh Zeitlin and why has he been nominated? To begin with, he's only thirty years old. Secondly, the movie for which he's nominated, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is the first feature-length film he's ever made. His movie stars a five year old actress, for whom Beasts is also her debut, in a kind of magical-realist approach to the story of a community hit by Hurricane Katrina. Her name is Quvenzhané Wallis, she is also nominated for Best Actress, and probably the youngest person ever to be nominated in this category.

Continue reading: Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar Snub, Benh Zeitlin Takes Her Expected Place

Can Jessica Chastain Topple Jennifer Lawrence At The Oscars?

Jessica Chastain Jennifer Lawrence Kathryn Bigelow

Jessica Chastain has enjoyed a huge couple of years in Hollywood, that's for sure. From relative unknown, the California-born actress landed roles in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, Oscar nominated The Help and the critically acclaimed Take Shelter. Since then, there's been high profile roles in Lawless and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, though her latest role in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty is her biggest and best yet.

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark ThirtyIt Was No Surprise That Jessica Chastain Scored A Nomination For Best Actress

The Osama Bin Laden movie won Chastain a nomination for Best Actress at the Oscars on Thursday morning (January 10, 2013), with the bookmakers giving her a decent chance of winning, however, there's just one problem: Jennifer Lawrence. Chastain is available at around 2/1 to take home the golden statuette, though Lawrence is the massive favourite at 1/2 for her role opposite Bradley Cooper in David O'Russell's Silver Linings Playbook. The comedy-drama was one of the big success stories of the nominations, which indicates it could be Lawrence's year. Zero Dark Thirty on the other hand failed to secure a nomination for its director Kathryn Bigelow, though the controversy surrounding the movie's torture scenes could be the main reasoning behind that snub. Still, the acclaimed film rightfully holds its place among the likes of Lincoln, The Master and Silver Linings for the evening's biggest prize: Best Picture. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, "The knockout punch of the movie season is being delivered by Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain is a marvel, and Bigelow and Boal top their Oscar-winning work in The Hurt Locker." Though the odds favor Lawrence, the smart money will be on Chastain.  

Continue reading: Can Jessica Chastain Topple Jennifer Lawrence At The Oscars?

How Did Ben Affleck And 'Argo' Go From Oscar Certs To Outside Bets?

Ben Affleck Steven Spielberg Kathryn Bigelow

How much does the Academy hate Ben Affleck? The actor and filmmaker was the ODDS-ON to WIN the Oscar for Best Director before Thursday morning's (January 10, 2013) nominations announcement. He was a shoo-in to make the long-list at least, with Kathryn Bigelow also well fancied for Zero Dark Thirty. Neither filmmaker made the list, with Steven Spielberg now looking likely to take the award for Lincoln (he did not make the directorial nominations list for the BAFTAS).

As awards' season began to hot up towards the end of 2013, Ben Affleck and Argo could do no wrong. The movie - about a life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans from Iran in 1979 - still holds a healthy 96% score on the review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes. Time Out Chicago said, "After Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now this directorial-best, Affleck is establishing himself as a major craftsman." The Daily Telegraph said, "Talent borrows and genius steals, but Affleck does something in between: he mimics." There was even talk that the 40-year-old could scoop both the acting and directing gongs, though by 5.30am ET today, that dream was in tatters. Silver Linings Playbook actor Bradley Cooper - who DID get nominated for Best Actor - told the Today programme during a phone interview, "I do have to say real quick, Ben Affleck got robbed."

Though he won the Oscar (with Matt Damon) for Best Screenplay in 1998, Affleck doesn't have any real Academy Awards form. He's done a little better at the Golden Globes, though generally, Hollywood doesn't appear to want to give Affleck anything. Maybe Argo winning Best Picture would make him feel a little better.

Continue reading: How Did Ben Affleck And 'Argo' Go From Oscar Certs To Outside Bets?

Ben Affleck Misses Out On Best Director Oscar Nod; Will It Affect Argo's Chances In Best Picture?

Ben Affleck Kathryn Bigelow Benh Zeitlin Steven Spielberg Michael Haneke

He was the bookies favorite coming in to today, but Argo's Ben Affleck didn't even make the shortlist for the Best Director category as the Oscars nomination were revealed. 

Just yesterday the Mirror had reported that it was to be a two horse race between Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow this year to take the much-coveted award. In the event though neither of them managed to make the final cut, the Academy panel of judges looking over them both in order to give a chance to the lesser favored Benh Zeitlin and Michael Hanneke for Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Amour respectively. Those two join the much more fancied Steven Spielberg, David O Russell and Ang Lee, the trio nominated for Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and The Life Of Pi respectively. 

Continue reading: Ben Affleck Misses Out On Best Director Oscar Nod; Will It Affect Argo's Chances In Best Picture?

Just A Film? 'Zero Dark Thirty' Dispute Just Got Serious

Kathryn Bigelow

The furore surrounding Kathryn Bigelow's Osama Bin Laden movie 'Zero Dark Thirty' has taken a surprise turn, with senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain questioning whether the CIA deliberately misled Bigelow and her screenwriter Mark Boal as to the specifics of the manhunt.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the three senators who slammed the film for alleged factual inaccuracies are now raising the possibility that Bigelow was duped by the CIA and are demanding that the agency turns over documents. Feinstein (California), Levin (Michigan) and McCain (Arizona) attacked the cinematic portrayal of the decade-long hunt for the Al Qaeda leader because they believe it suggests that key information was obtained by torturing detainees. In a letter to CIA director Michael Morell, the trio expressed a concern that "given the CIA's cooperation with the filmmakers and the narrative's consistency with past public misstatements by former senior CIA officials, filmmakers could have been misled by information they were provided by the CIA." McCain and co demand that the agency turn over to them "all information and documents provided to the filmmakers by CIA officials." Morell had previously sent an unusual message to all CIA employees on December 21, writing "some [intelligence related to bin Laden's location] came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well."

Sony, which is releasing Zero Dark Thirty in the U.S., has declined to comment - hardly surprising given the film is likely to benefit from the recent attention. It is still considered a frontrunner for the Golden Globes and Oscars.

Zero Dark Thirty In Trouble With The Senate Intelligence Committee

Kathryn Bigelow

The controversy surrounding Kathryn Bigelow's latest movie Zero Dark Thirty has remained fairly tame - with critics and others questioning its use of torture - but now it's in real trouble as the Senate Intelligence Committee is planning an investigation into the movie over worries that it had access to 'secret information', as well as apprehension about the representation about torture, as NewsMax reports.

"[The film is] grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information," the committee wrote, arguing that the film "clearly implies that the CIA's coercive interrogation techniques were effective." They feel strongly against the use of extreme torture seen in the movie, and question whether its use was based on reality or simply a tool by the writers. According to the senators in the committee the film's portrayal of the search and capture of Osama bin Laden was inaccurate. They have not yet contacted anyone in the films production

"We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden," said Bigelow in a statement. "The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes."

Head Of CIA Objects Against Portrayal In Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow

With Zero Dark Thirty already established as one of the year’s most popular releases and drawing in the holiday crowds, a number of criticisms have arisen nonetheless.

These have been directed at the film’s factual inaccuracies and the liberties director Kathryn Bigelow has taken with the representation of the operation to find and capture Osama bin Laden. Senators John McCain, Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein have sent a letter to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, speaking out against the film’s depiction and treatment of torture.

The latest authority to comment on this is CIA director Michael Morell, who said in a statement: “I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it important to put Zero Dark Thirty, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context.” Morell goes on to object to the “strong impression” Zero Dark Thirty creates against the “strong interrogation techniques”, used in the course of the investigation, as well as the movie’s tendency to focus on “just a few individuals”, whereas the operation was actually a complex and sustained team effort, according to him.

Continue reading: Head Of CIA Objects Against Portrayal In Zero Dark Thirty

A Week In Movies Feat: Cruise Promoting Jack Reacher, JJ Abrams' Exciting Sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness And Will Smith's End Of The World Thriller After Earth

Steven Spielberg Kathryn Bigelow Ang Lee Tom Cruise George Clooney Jj Abrams Will Smith Chris Pine Benedict Cumberbatch Zachary Quinto Zoe Saldana


As the year winds down, critics are making lists and checking them twice to decide which filmmakers have been naughty or nice. Top 10s are appearing everywhere, along with awards and nominations and even some worst of the year lists. And most film fans are anxiously awaiting the emergence of a front-runner in the Oscar race. 

So far the love has been spread around between year-end releases like Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty and Ang Lee's Life of Pi, all of which earned key nominations from the Golden Globes last week and the London Critics' Circle Film Awards this week. Perhaps not quite so awards-worthy is the new Tom Cruise action romp Jack Reacher, which opens on Christmas.

Continue reading: A Week In Movies Feat: Cruise Promoting Jack Reacher, JJ Abrams' Exciting Sequel Star Trek: Into Darkness And Will Smith's End Of The World Thriller After Earth

Zero Dark Thirty: An Oscar Shoe-in?

Kathryn Bigelow Quentin Tarantino Jennifer Lawrence

2012 may not even be over yet, but that hasn't stop every man and his dog from talking about the Oscars and who will win what. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's latest Middle Eastern war effort is currently a name on everyone's lips, but will it win big at the 2013 ceremony in February.

Prior to Zero Dark Thirty's release, Argo and Lincoln were pretty much the only names on offer when it came to talking the Oscars, but over the course of a month the winds sure have changed. Not only has ZDT emerged as a top contender, it has also had some of it's chances dashed as certain scenes in the film have been criticised by politicians and the public alike. Some of the 'interrogation' scenes in particular have cause quite a stir indeed, and may very well end up ending Bigelow's Oscar hopes before they have even begun.

Of course, the Oscars never is a three-horse race, and if Golden Globe nominations are anything to go by then Quentin Tarantino may very well be odds-on to take away all the Oscar glory with Django Unchained. That said, we mustn't discount some of the indie numbers that always cause a stir, such as the Cannes darling The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Beats of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook, which looks to have the Best Actress Award already scooped up for Jennifer Lawrence. As is so often the case, the Oscars couldn't be closer and it really is anyones guess as to who will walk away as victor come February.

Continue reading: Zero Dark Thirty: An Oscar Shoe-in?

Have Zero Dark Thirty's Oscar Chances Been Dashed? Senators Blast The Film As "Grossly Inaccurate"

Kathryn Bigelow

Zero Dark Thirty may not be Oscar 2013's The Hurt Locker after all, as the film has been heavily criticised by a number of American politicians who have described the film as, amongst other things, being "grossly inaccurate."

Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to the massively successful Hurt Locker has caused quite a stir over some particular scenes that involve suspects being heavily interrogated for information leading to the death of Osama bin Laden. The 'enhanced interrogation techniques' employed in the film, which include actions like 'waterboarding' (simulated drowning), are considered tortuous and clearly reflect badly on the US Government, who in turn have come out to criticise the film.

Three senators have since come forth to blast the film in an open letter addressed to Sony CEO Michael Lynton, writing; “Zero Dark Thirty is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.”

Continue reading: Have Zero Dark Thirty's Oscar Chances Been Dashed? Senators Blast The Film As "Grossly Inaccurate"

John McCain Slams Zero Dark Thirty For "Grossly Inaccurate" Torture Scenes

Kathryn Bigelow John McCain

Three Senate leaders - including the former Presidential candidate John McCain - have condemned Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar tipped movie Zero Dark Thirty for its "grossly inaccurate and misleading" torture scenes. The film is a dramatization of the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden.

In a letter to Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton, senators Diane Feinstein, Carl Levin and McCain say, "We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie 'Zero Dark Thirty.' We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden." The film depicts the hunt for Bin Laden though begins with scenes of torture at a CIA "black site" that results in a key piece of intelligence. The letter continues, "We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words 'based on first-hand accounts of actual events' and there has been significant media coverage of the CIA's cooperation with the screenwriters.. 'Zero Dark Thirty' is factually inaccurate." Screenwriter Mark Boal did not have an immediate comment, though told the Los Angeles Times last week, "This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden."

Despite the Senators' criticism, Zero Dark Thirty has emerged as a serious contender for an Oscar in 2013 and has received almost unanimous praise from critics. 

Continue reading: John McCain Slams Zero Dark Thirty For "Grossly Inaccurate" Torture Scenes

Zero Dark Thirty – Kathryn Bigelow Urges Viewers To Overlook Torture Controversy

Kathryn Bigelow Jessica Chastain

Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie Zero Dark Thirty is a “complex look” at the hunt for the al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. In an interview with Reuters, the Oscar winning director reveals that the movie has been “mischaracterized” for a year, whilst she was in the process of making the movie and she and her screenwriter Mark Boal want audiences to “go and see it and judge for themselves.”

Boal and Bigelow will have faced many decisions when it came to mapping out the movie and the storyline they were going to pursue and opted against the idea of a Hollywood-style glamorized look at the capture of Bin Laden. Instead, Zero Dark Thirty explores the “previously undisclosed details of the mission to hunt down the man behind the September 11 attacks.” This, however, has led to a great deal of controversy as Bigelow and Boal have been accused of being in receipt of classified information, that had been leaked to them. The movie stars Jessica Chastain, as a CIA officer, Maya, who tracks down Bin Laden through the use of “brutal interrogations, electronic surveillance and old-fashioned spying.”

Bigelow says, of the movie that “It's ten years compressed into two plus hours… it’s really the rhythm of the hunt that creates the rhythm of the movie.” Reviews of the film so far have been largely positive, Bigelow will now be praying that audiences overlook the myth and controversy surrounding the latest product of her toil and assess the movie on its merits.

Final Zero Dark Thirty Trailer Released

Kathryn Bigelow Jessica Chastain

After the ideological flick about the manhunt for Osama bin Laden nabbed four Golden Globe nominations last Thrusday, the final trailer for Zero Dark Thirty was released yesterday.

The film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, tells the story Maya, a fictional CIA analyst, portrayed by Jessica Chastain, who leads the hunt for what could arguably be the most wanted criminal of the last decade. Originally, the film was set to premiere much earlier this year, putting it nicely ahead of the 2012 presidential race. This, of course, caused a number of vocal right-wingers to cry “Outrage!” as the reel was perceived to be just another promotional tool for Obama’s campaign. After all, what other purpose could a movie about one of the administration’s greatest successes, released right before election season, serve?

As it turned out, Zero Dark Thirty was not at all released anywhere near the election and the film itself makes no claim to support the Obama administration’s decisions during the mission. Instead, as this final trailer once again shows, the film puts the focus on moral choices, as well as the role of torture and the human rights debate in a the fight against terrorism. A heavy task to take on for sure, but with the film’s Golden Globe success and early Oscar buzz, it seems to have paid off.

Continue reading: Final Zero Dark Thirty Trailer Released

Does Zero Dark Thirty Tell Us Something We Don't Want To Hear About Torture?

Kathryn Bigelow

Kathryn Bigelow's latest offering, Zero Dark Thirty, has scored well with the critics, and is likely to prove a success as we move in to awards season, but does the film's depiction of torture represent an uncomfortable truth?

That uncomfortable truth is that America uses torture as a means to complete a mission, to safeguard its people. That's what Zero suggests, anyway, and it's started a much-needed debate as the subject jumps from government documents into the living rooms of Americans. 

At the films crux is the search for Osama Bin Laden - an American obsession for the past decade. Before a midnight raid on the Al Qaeda leader's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan - we won't apologise for spoilers, you big news-avoider - a man is tortured so that he may give up a name, which the CIA need. The techniques include locking him in a small box, beating him severely and pouring water over his face through a cloth, commonly known as waterboarding.

Continue reading: Does Zero Dark Thirty Tell Us Something We Don't Want To Hear About Torture?

Zero Dark Thirty Generating Early Award Buzz

Kathryn Bigelow

While Zero Dark Thirty’s theatrical release isn’t for another week (December 19), critics seem to be tripping over their feet to praise the film. The drama, which centers around the search for Osama bin Laden, has gotten a lot of critical acclaim and has even been named the best film of 2012 by the Film Critics Association of Washington DC on Monday. This is only the latest in a stream of critical acclaim, after wins from The National Board of Review, Boston Film Critics, New York Film Critics’ Circle and New York Online Critics. Of course, critical success doesn’t always equal huge box office sales, but the film seems to be highly anticipated by fans as well, with a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 97% of movie-goers indicating that they want to see it.

The film, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow looks like the total Oscar bait package and is, in a not-so-surprising turn of events, already generating some buzz for award season. Zero Dark Thirty has also been called “the most impressive film Bigelow has made” (Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter) and a “ damn fine” film (Richard Corliss, TIME).

Whether the flick will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but it will certainly be one to watch out for.

Continue reading: Zero Dark Thirty Generating Early Award Buzz

Bitter Bret Easton Ellis, Are Kathryn Bigelow's Movies "OK Junk"?

Bret Easton Ellis Kathryn Bigelow

Having not released any decent literature for nigh on a decade (Lunar Park was average and The Canyons, a screenplay, is yet to see the light of day), Bret Easton Ellis has descended into pits of bitterness over recent months. When he was denied the pleasure of writing the 50 Shades of Grey film adaptation, in place of Kelly Marcel, who he derided the choice and Marcel, culminating in his utterance of "ARGH!"

This time around he took to Twitter again to give a back handed compliment to the Zero Dark Thirty direction, and only female director to have ever won an Academy Award, Kathryn Bigelow:

Gender Wars – Bret Easton Ellis’ Sexist Twitter Rant About Kathryn Bigelow

Bret Easton Ellis Kathryn Bigelow Matt Bomer

Bret Easton Ellis has gotten himself into yet another spot of bother on Twitter. Not content with upsetting Matt Bomer recently, now Ellis has targeted his vitriol at the Oscar-winning movie director Kathryn Bigelow. It’s amazing how much hatred you can shake up in the space of 140 characters, now, isn’t it? Ellis started off by posting a message on his Twitter feed last night (December 5, 2012) about Bigelow’s latest movie Zero Dark Thirty, saying that it “might win critics awards but Silver Linings Playbook will win the Best Picture Oscar. This is how it always happens...”

Now – that tweet alone wouldn’t have ben so bad, surely; a nice even-handed approach to his Oscars predictions. Ellis being Ellis, though, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) leave things there and said “Kathryn Bigelow would be considered a mildly interesting filmmaker if she was a man but since she's a very hot woman she's really overrated…” and then made things worse by saying “Kathryn Bigelow: Strange Days, K-19 The Widowmaker, Blue Steel, The Hurt Locker. Are we talking about visionary filmmaking or just OK junk?” Unkind words, indeed from Bret, there, about the only female to ever have won an Oscar for Best Director.

This isn’t the first time that Ellis has caused a stink on Twitter, either. Not so long ago, he blasted rumours that Matt Bomer would be playing the lead in Fifty Shades of Grey, because he was gay. Er… that’s why they call it acting, Ellis… Geez. Let’s hope Bigelow gets the last laugh and lands an Oscar, eh?

Does Zero Dark Thirty Best Film Of 2012 Win Point To Future Award Success?

Kathryn Bigelow Jessica Chastain Steven Spielberg Daniel Day Lewis Bradley Cooper

Kathryn Bigelow's drama Zero Dark Thirty about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was always going to be a big success critically. Her film The Hurt Locker in 2008 proved her film making skill, and that she was able to treat the delicate situation between American and the Middle East with tact. With this new American military story and it's political inclinations it's no surprise really that it has won the Film of the Year 2012 by the National Board of Review in the USA, reports Yahoo.

Not only did the film pick up the best film award, but Kathryn Bigelow was awarded Best Director, while Best Actress went to Zero Dark Thirty's Jessica Chastain. The award for Best Actor went to Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook. Snapping up three of the most coveted prizes in the awards is no mean feat, and is a distinct nod towards what to expect from future nominations, but not necessarily about future wins. It's rare for all three awards to give the same awards to one film. Not since the 2008/9 awards has one movie won Best Film across the board, and that was Slumdog Millionaire.

One film that was surprisingly not a big winner with the NBR was this year's Steven Spielberg movie Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis, although it did appear in the list of their ten top films, which also included: Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Looper, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Promised Land and Silver Linings Playbook

The New York Critics Predict The Oscars? Then Kathryn Bigelow Can Start Celebrating

Kathryn Bigelow Sally Field Daniel Day Lewis Matthew Mcconaughey Meryl Streep Philip Seymour Hoffman Rachel Weisz Jennifer Lawrence Ben Affleck

Awards season got into full swing in New York last night (December 3, 2012), with the NY Film Critics Circle ceremony rewarding the best movies and performances of the year. Though the Golden Globes is considered a key barometer for the Oscars, it's been the New York awards' show that has correctly predicted the Academy Awards winners in recent years. For example, it named The Artist as Best Picture before it had stepped up its Oscars campaign in 2011, it rewarded Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady and crowned The Hurt Locker before it beat Avatar to the biggest prize of them all.

So what do Monday's results tell us about the Oscars race? Well, firstly, that Les Miserables might be in trouble after not picking up a single award. Musical movies have never found much success at the critics' awards, though Anne Hathaway was tipped to win Best Supporting Actress - it went to Lincoln's Sally Field instead. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor, as he's expected to do at the Oscars, while Matthew Mcconaughey usurped the Best Supporting Actor award from The Master's Philip Seymour Hoffman. Another shock was Rachel Weisz's win in the Best Actress category, despite pretty much everyone in the industry predicting that Jennifer Lawrence will win the Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook. The biggest surprise of the evening was reserved for the top award - Best Picture - which went to Zero Dark Thirty. Forget Argo and Lincoln, because it was Kathryn Bigelow's drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that took the prize. The film currently holds a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Screen Crush writing, "This look at world's biggest manhunt may be the best manhunt movie ever made."

The result has affected the bookmakers' interpretation on the race for the Best Picture Oscar, slashing Zero Dark Thirty's odds to 14/1. Ben Affleck's Argo remains the favorite at 2/1. 

Continue reading: The New York Critics Predict The Oscars? Then Kathryn Bigelow Can Start Celebrating

Zero Dark Thirty, A Critic's Paradise, Tipped For The Oscars.

Jessica Chastain Kathryn Bigelow Chris Pratt Kyle Chandler

Kathryn Bigelow is no stranger to success. Her 2008 Iraq war movie The Hurt Locker was the recipient of a plethora of awards, including the an enormous six Oscars, and six Baftas, winning Best Picture in both awards. Once again she's bringing American military disputes into the spotlight with Zero Dark Thirty which spans the ten years that it took to find Osama Bin Laden, and the arduous process it took to do so.

It stars Jessica Chastain (The Help), Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights). Reviews so far have been enormously positive, and have largely compared it to another Middle Eastern combative movie that's also tipped to be a contender in the Oscar race- Ben Affleck's Argo. Although by comparison, most people have said that it's better. Time Magazine even said that it "blows [Argo] out of the water". 

Bigelow's The Hurt Locker also got glowing reviews from critics, but was criticised by war veterans who considered it to be unrealistic to the point of absurdity, although acknowledging it to be one of the best films to date to represent the conflict in Iraq. Zero Dark Hour contrasts The Hurt Locker in sheer scale, which spans half the planet. But it's the subject matter itself plus the professionalism and dedication by the film makers which will push this film into the realms of the movie-Gods. With such poignancy in contemporary American history, it's definitely one to receive awards out of respect for the delicate topic, but the quality of the film making will undoubtedly give it a few more. Zero Dark Thirty will be released on December 19th.

Silver Linings Playbook? Argo? Lincoln? Your Oscars Cheat Sheet For Best Picture!

Ben Affleck Steven Spielberg Tom Hooper David O Russell Joaquin Phoenix Philip Seymour Hoffman Michael Haneke Bradley Cooper Jennifer Lawrence Kathryn Bigelow Daniel Day Lewis Hugh Jackman Helena Bonham Carter Russell Crowe Anne Hathaway Paul Thomas Anderson Ang Lee Quvenzhane Wallis

David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook - a stunning dark comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper - appears to have hijacked the Oscars race. Russell was tipped for a golden statuette with The Fighter, though missed out on the directing prize to Tom Hooper (The Kings Speech). His latest movie has certainly thrown a spanner into the works for the greatest film prize of them all, so we've compiled an Oscars cheat sheet for Best Picture in 2013. So read on, before cleverly dropping the information into conversations with your friends.

Who's the frontrunner?

There's still a handful of likely Oscar contenders to be released, though the eight or ten movies most strongly tipped to get nominated for Best Picture are now in place. The list is headed by two movies: Ben Affleck's thriller Argo and Steven Spielberg's historical drama Lincoln. The bookmakers cannot choose between the two, but most give the former's movie the edge as recent history suggests this type of film is likely to please the younger looking Academy. The Hurt Locker famously usurped Avatar in 2009, and Affleck's slick movie has much in common with Kathryn Bigelow's classic Iraq War film. As mentioned, both films are pretty much neck-and-neck in the betting, though Argo is generally available at 3/1 while Spielberg's epic is around 4/1.

Continue reading: Silver Linings Playbook? Argo? Lincoln? Your Oscars Cheat Sheet For Best Picture!

Hurt Locker Director Kathryn Bigelow Releases Trailer For Latest Movie Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow James Gandolfini Joel Edgerton Chris Pratt Kyle Chandler

The new trailer for Osama bin Laden takedown movie Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow came out yesterday (October, 11 2012).

The movie, from Hurt Locker creator Kathryn Bigelow, follows the decade-long hunt for the Al Qaeda chief, which culminated in the death of the supposed mastermind of 9/11. This dramatic trailer shows the C.I.A plotting leading up to the events, as well as the lead female character, Jessica Chastain, who takes the central role alongside Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt and Kyle Chandler in the tense drama. Sopranos lead James Gandolfini is the former CIA chief Leon Panetta and Mark Strong is a CIA official who voices the agency’s frustration at not finding the man behind the terrorist attacks in New York. The film is set for a December release in the U.S, hitting cinemas on the 19th of that month, whilst UK film fans will have to wait until a month after Christmas, as it doesn’t cross the pond until January 26, 2013.

Bigelow won Best Achievement in Directing and Motion Picture for The Hurt Locker, beating out film giant, and ex-husband, James Cameron in the process, whose fantasy epic Avatar was expected to clean up at the awards. Her latest offering won’t be out in time to be recognised by the next Academy Awards, but you can expect her to be in the running come 2014.

‘Les Miserables’ To Battle Tarantino’s Django Unchained On Christmas Day

Tom Hooper Russell Crowe Ang Lee Baz Luhrmann Quentin Tarantino Jamie Foxx Leonardo Dicaprio Kathryn Bigelow Tom Cruise

Looks like Universal Pictures mean business. The studio has pushed the release of ‘Les Miserables’ from December 14, to December 25. Interestingly, the decision was made after Universal got the final cut from director Tom Hooper and felt it was more appropriate for a Christmas Day release.

Ang Lee’s hugely anticipated ‘Life of Pi’ – an adaptation of Yann Martel’s classic novel – and Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ recently moved off the Christmas Day release date, though ‘Les Mis’ still has high profile challengers. The Russell Crowe starring movie, based on the long-running musical which itself is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, will go up against Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’. The drama-western follows a slave-turned-bounty hunter played by Jamie Foxx who sets out to rescue his wife from Leonardo Dicaprio’s brutal Mississippi plantation owner Calvin Candie. It will certainly be interesting to discover who comes out on top on Christmas Day, with both movies expected to be in the running for the major prizes at the Golden Globes and Oscars.

Continue reading: ‘Les Miserables’ To Battle Tarantino’s Django Unchained On Christmas Day

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Kathryn Bigelow

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27th November, 1951







Kathryn Bigelow Movies

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