Betrayal is in the air, and it’s reflected in the Oscar nominations. Zero Dark Thirty made the list for best picture, but Kathryn Bigelow was passed over for best director. David Denby’s New Yorker capsule puts the matter dispassionately and succinctly: “The filmmakers landed themselves in trouble by making the torture of a minor Al Qaeda member by the C.I.A. appear to yield a useful scrap of information—something that did not happen in the actual investigation. Trying to have it both ways, they claimed the authority of fact and the freedom of fiction at the same time. Still, it’s a great movie.”
A great movie whose expedient plotting is all on Bigelow. Mark Boal, who wrote the script, was nominated for best original screenplay.
In a statement defending herself and her movie, Bigelow calls herself a “lifelong pacifist” opposed to “inhumane treatment of any kind,” and she wonders “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 [of torture], as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen. Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement.”