February 20, 2013

Movie Dope

Short Descriptions Of Movies Playing In And Around Athens...

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL (NR) 2007. As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, For Loving Yourself (FLY) is sponsoring a screening of the documentary, America the Beautiful. Filmmaker Darryl Roberts examines female body image in our society of celebutantes (think Paris Hilton) where we worship child models, celebrities, plastic surgery and airbrushed advertising. The documentary features interviews with Ted Casablanca, Eve Ensler, Jessica Simpson and more. Winner of the Chicago International Film Festival Gold Plaque for Best Documentary Direction. (UGA MLC Room 248)

AMOUR (PG-13) Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning feature finally arrives in Athens. Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are in their 80s when their love is tested by a major health crisis. His last film, The White Ribbon, won Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or as well, and Amour also won four major European Film Awards (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Film) and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film. With Isabelle Huppert as the couple's daughter. (Ciné)

ARGO (R) Ben Affleck’s career revival continues with his best directing effort yet, despite his snub by the Academy. Revealing the once classified story of how the CIA rescued six American hostages in the midst of the Iranian Revolution, Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Argo is both an intriguing modern history lesson, a compelling, old-fashioned Hollywood thriller and a strong contender for Best Picture. Affleck has collected one hell of a cast—John Goodman, Academy Award nominee Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Kyle Chandler, Victor Garber, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina and many more recognizable faces—but its greatness is a sum of all parts—directing, writing (by first-time scripter and newly minted Academy Award nominee Chris Terrio) and acting. Now about that Best Director snub… (Ciné)

BAARIA (NR) 2009. UGA’s Department of Romance Languages brings back its Cinecitta film series for the fifth time. In the Sicilian village where filmmaker Guiseppe Tornatore was born, three generations of a family are recounted from the 1920s to the 1980s. A nominee for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, Baaria received the Venice Film Festival’s Pasinetti Award for Best Film and was nominated for the Venice’s Golden Lion, as well as ten Davids. 

• BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (PG-13) The latest YA adaptation to battle through the Twilight comparisons, Beautiful Creatures, based off the first book of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Caster Chronicles probably owes more to HBO’s vampire hit, “True Blood.” Set in the South Carolina hamlet of Gatlin, Beautiful Creatures excels at lurid overwroughtness, from the romantic professions to the accents to the acting, and that is meant as a compliment. High school junior Ethan Wate (the unexpectedly magnetic Alden Ehrenreich) falls in love with new girl, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert). Unfortunately, Lena’s upcoming sweet 16 brings with it a family curse because she hails from a race of magic users known as Casters. The rest of the small-minded Christian town merely thinks Lena and her uncle (Jeremy Irons) worship the devil; how parochial of them. Irons and Emma Thompson have a veritable feast, overwhelming many of their costars, especially the usually standout Margo Martindale, who might have been more appropriately cast in Thompson’s role. Somehow, Ehrenreich holds his own, despite the self-satisfyingly pithy dialogue from writer-director Richard LaGravenese. Its events start to drag as they draw to a climactic close, but as far as soap operatic fantasies go, Beautiful Creatures is a success.

DARK SKIES (PG-13) I have not enjoyed either of Scott Charles Stewart’s previous features (Legion and Priest), so I have very low expectations for the third and his first Paul Bettany-less production. The Barrett family (including mom Keri Russell and dad Josh Hamilton) are living a peaceful suburban life when disturbing events like a flock of birds descending and dying around their house haunt them. Fortunately, J.K. Simmons’ expert drops by to explain the force that is after them.

DOCUMENTING THE CONGO (NR) Lake Oconee Living is sponsoring this special screening of the Green Living Project’s short films about conservation in Africa. The project visited several countries in Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Writer Chris Cella, who served as a crew member on the film crew, will attend the Q&A and catered reception that accompanies the screening. See the films, then hear Cella give a firsthand account of his African experience. The screening and reception are free. (Ciné)

• ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (PG) One can pretty much expect the small animation houses to release one of these harmless, uninspired kiddie flicks every month. Did your kid love Monster vs Aliens? Then they’re bound to momentarily enjoy Escape from Planet Earth while you catch a quick nap or check out the Oscar nominee playing next door. Nobody expects cartoons like Escape from Planet Earth to compete with Pixar’s animated features for awards; they’re made to replace babysitters and entertain kids for 90 minutes. A space adventurer, Scorch Supernova (v. Brendan Fraser), is captured on Earth by the villainous General Shanker (v. William Shatner, who provides some of the movie’s most entertaining voice work). Shanker is making a fortune off his alien captives’ technological innovations. His latest prisoner is Scorch’s brainy brother, Gary (v. Rob Corddry, an odd vocal choice considering his comic persona is certainly not built around his intelligence). Now the Supernova bros must work together to get back home. The animation is as shiny as the story is recycled. Other cartoons have hurt worse, but anything that wastes the genius of Ricky Gervais should be eyed with a bit of extra skepticism.

FOWL PLAY (NR) The eigth Annual Animal Voices Film Festival, sponsored by Speak Out for Species at UGA, continues with Fowl Play: The Untold Story Behind Your Breakfast follows Mercy for Animals members as they infiltrate some of the nation’s largest egg production facilities, recording video footage of and rescuing sick and injured chickens. The film will be accompanied by a discussion led by Lorena Mucke, who works as a Humane Educator for the non-profit Ethical Choices Program. (UGA MLC Room 101)

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (R) Will audiences find Bruce Willis’ New York Detective John McClane running into trouble for a fifth time, in Russia, with his CIA operative son (Jack Reacher’s Jai Courtney), believable? Will it matter? Maybe. R-rated action is not doing so hot, with Arnold’s The Last Stand and Sly’s Bullet to the Head both underperforming their already low expectations. Respectable but unexciting action director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, Flight of the Phoenix, The Omen and Max Payne) should be better than Live and Let Die Hard’s Len Wiseman.

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (R) Wondering how Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters made it to theaters is a far more interesting way to spend the action fairy tale’s sub-90-minute runtime. The fabled origin of Hansel and Gretel is well-known. Two kids are left alone in the forest and stumble upon a witch’s candy house; the kids kill the witch. Dead Snow’s Tommy Wirkola imagines what happens next, as Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) grow up to be traveling hunters of deadly witches. Apparently, the biggest, baddest witch (Famke Janssen) is hatching a plot that requires Gretel, due to a not-so-surprising mid-film reveal. Renner deserves better starring roles than this, or the ones in The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. He needs a role to highlight his dry delivery and superheroics. Arterton’s pretty and British, but her Gretel is an interchangeable part that could have been played by many a former Bond girl. Wirkola also seems to have some difficulties with tone, shifting from mean and callous to slapstick in seconds. Perhaps the presence of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as producers pushed the movie to be funnier than it needed. Hansel & Gretel will be forgotten by February.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (R) The surprisingly versatile Bill Murray looks to make a fine 32nd president in this Oscar hopeful. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s love affair with his cousin, Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney), becomes the focus of a 1939 weekend visit from the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman). Director Roger Michell previously helmed Notting Hill, Changing Lanes, Venus and 2010’s Morning Glory; this film looks like it could be better than all of those combined. With Rushmore’s Olivia Williams as Eleanor Roosevelt. (Ciné)

IDENTITY THIEF (R) Unfortunately, stars Melissa McCarthy (an Oscar nominee for Bridesmaids) and Jason Bateman are better than this more-annoying-than-funny odd couple road comedy. With two kids and another on the way, Sandy Patterson (Bateman) is struggling to make ends meet. Having his identity stolen by friendless Diana (McCarthy) only further aggravates his financial distress. In desperation, Sandy travels to Florida to bring his tormentor to justice. Inexplicably and unnecessarily on their heels are a couple of drug enforcers (Genesis Rodriguez and Tip “T.I.” Harris) and a mean ass bounty hunter (a pretty much wasted Robert Patrick). Strangely, the gags work best when Bateman’s straight man and McCarthy’s manic criminal bond rather than fight. Too bad the mean-spirited comic scenarios cooked up by screenwriter Craig Mazin (Scary Movies 3 and 4 and The Hangover: Parts II and III) lack originality. The punch lines lack the subtlety that brings out Bateman’s greatness. Director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong and Horrible Bosses) and his hilarious stars have done and will do comedy better.

LINCOLN (PG-13) Historical biopics do not come much more perfect than Steven Spielberg’s take on our 16th president’s struggle to end slavery by way of the Thirteenth Amendment. Rather than tell Abraham Lincoln’s life story, Academy Award nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner chose the ideal, earth-shattering month upon which to focus. He populates Spielberg’s 19th-century hallways with living, breathing figures of American history like Thaddeus Stevens (Academy Award nominee Tommy Lee Jones), but the film will be remembered and lauded as another platform from which Academy Award frontrunner Daniel Day-Lewis can solidify his claim to the title of greatest living actor. He uncannily becomes Lincoln with such ease; he also humanizes a larger-than-life figure we tend to treat far too reverently. Awards are sure to come. His authentic performance keep Spielberg’s best film since 1998’s Saving Private Ryan from falling into the hagiographical trap. (UGA Tate Theatre)

MAMA (PG-13) As much of a horror movie fan as yours truly is, the ghostly stories often favored by Spanish filmmakers are not my subgenre of choice. In Mama, produced by Guillermo del Toro and based on a short expanded by writer-director Andrés Muschietti, two young girls are found in a cabin, where they have lived alone for five years. Unfortunately, when Annabel and Lucas (Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) get Victoria and Lily home, they discover the two girls were not alone in the woods, and they’ve brought their rather angry “Mama” with them. The buildup is slow and foreboding, but the final act asks far too much of its CGI creature, whose overly digital appearance elicits more giggles than screams. When coupled with Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Mama sucks a bit more wind out of del Toro’s producing sails; so long as summer’s Pacific Rim doesn’t dim his writing-directing luster, everything should be okay.

MAN ON WIRE (PG-13) 2008. On Aug. 7, 1974, Philippe Petit spent 45 minutes 1,350 feet in the air, crossing back and forth between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Director James Marsh (The King) uses archival footage, dramatic reenactments, interviews, and photos to recommit what has been called “the artistic crime of the century.” The film has been met with almost universal acclaim and won both the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and its Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. (UGA Tate Theatre)

OSCAR SHORTS (NR) The Oscar nominated Live Action and Animated Shorts Programs return to Ciné. This year’s Live Action nominees include South Africa’s “Asad,” Afghanistan’s “Buzkashi Boys,” USA’s “Curfew,” Belgium/France’s “Death of a Shadow” and Canada’s “Henry.” The Animated Short Film nominees are “Head Over Heels,” “The Longest Daycare” featuring Maggie Simpson, Disney’s “Paperman,” “Fresh Guacamole” and “Adam and Dog.” Finding out the winner on Oscar night is a whole lot more fun when you’ve seen the nominees. (Ciné)

PARENTAL GUIDANCE (PG) Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star as old-school grandparents forced to care for their decidedly 21st-century grandchildren. Director Andy Fickman’s filmography is more weak (The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain) than bad (You Again); I did enjoy his Amanda Bynes cross-dressing comedy, She’s the Man. Splash Academy Award nominees Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel are credited with the rewrite. With Marisa Tomei, Bailee Madison (the young Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark star is a boon) and Tom Everett Scott.

RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (PG) Author William Joyce’s very cool idea is brought to the big screen by first-time animated feature director Peter Ramsey and fantastical executive producer Guillermo del Toro. Holiday legends North (aka Santa, who is voiced very Russianly by Alec Baldwin), Bunny (v. Hugh Jackman) and Tooth (v. Isla Fisher) are joined by Jack Frost (v. Chris Pine) as they do battle with the evil Pitch (v. Jude Law). Imagining massive audiences of children falling hard for this potential animated franchise is not hard. The computer-generated animation is engaging (though one must wonder what thought process led to such an unappealingly birdlike appearance for the Tooth Fairy), and the narrative is action-packed. Adults will be intermittently bored by the pedestrian plotting and obvious obstacles placed in front of the legendary heroes. Hopefully, a sequel will take increased advantage of the extraordinary concept rather than relying so much upon tired cartoon storytelling.

THE ROOM (R) 2003. Tommy Wiseau returns once again as the unpredictable, inexplicable Johnny in this cult classic. Part of Bad Movie Night. (Ciné)

RUST AND BONE (R) Writer-director Jacques Audiard follows up his critically acclaimed A Prophet (the Oscar and Golden Globe nominee won awards from Cannes and the Césars) with Rust and Bone, starring Marion Cotillard in another potentially award winning role. Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) departs Belgium for Antibes with his young son. While living with his sister and her family, he bonds with Stéphanie (Cotillard), a killer whale trainer who suffers an awful accident. Audiard’s film was nominated for Cannes’ Palme d’Or. (Ciné)

• SAFE HAVEN (PG-13) One thing I enjoy about reviewing movies is having a readymade excuse for watching sappy romances like Safe Haven. I’ve been curious as to what the big mystery is since the first trailer; plus, Julianne Hough is really attractive. Unfortunately, the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, set in another North Carolina paradise, is one solved mystery away from just being one couple’s two hour how we met story. Pretty, young Katie is on the run from a constantly drunk, really sweaty cop (“Revolution” star David Lyons). Lucky for her, a hot widower, Alex (Josh Duhamel), with two cute kids is ready to love again. Wondering how this romance is ultimately different from Sleeping with the Enemy? Then prepare for the laughable, Shyamalan-esque, climactic twist. Still, Safe Haven is competently, if unexcitingly, made by Academy Award nominee Lasse Hallstrom, but The Notebook need not worry. Its legacy as the gold standard for this sort of Sparks-ian cinematic page turner is under no threat.

SIDE EFFECTS (R) Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has intimated that Side Effects is his final film, which is a shame. The Academy Award winning director would be going out at the top of his game, but with a movie that feels more good than great. However, Side Effects, written by Soderbergh’s writing collaborator on The Informant! and Contagion, is hard to talk about without spoiling any of the many entertaining twists. Here’s the most spoiler-free plot synopsis I could devise. Emily Taylor’s (Rooney Mara, Lisbeth Salander in the English-language The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) struggles with depression after her financier husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), is released from prison, which leads her into the care of Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). However, the drug prescribed by Dr. Banks has deadly side effects for Emily. Soderbergh precisely dissects this medical mystery, in which everyone’s motives are suspect. Law charms but to what end? Is Catherine Zeta-Jones’ fellow shrink everything she seems to be? And what about Emily herself? A lot of the film’s suspenseful fun comes from unraveling the mystery. While not Soderbergh’s best, Side Effects heats up a cold February theater better than this winter’s mostly frozen flick-sticks.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (R) Athens has been waiting for the arrival of David O. Russell’s multiple Academy Award nominee, and the dram-rom-com does everything but disappoint. Pat (Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a state mental hospital after a violent incident involving his estranged wife and another man. Maybe too soon after coming home, Pat meets Tiffany (Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Jennifer Lawrence), who lost it after the death of her husband. Instead of exacerbating each other’s unhealthy flaws, the relationship between these two cracked souls heals both, much to the surprise of everyone, including Pat’s parents (dual Oscar nominees Robert De Niro and Animal Kingdom’s Jacki Weaver). Besides I Heart Huckabees (which deserves reevaluation) and Russell’s infamous tirade, The Fighter, the filmmaker has one of the strongest filmographies of any of the acclaimed auteurs first discovered in the 1990s. Silver Linings Playbook has an awkward edge—you keep waiting for Pat and Tiffany’s house of cards to collapse—that makes even the smallest successes so much sweeter. Russell’s fiery demeanor and beautiful writing certainly ignites his actors; Cooper and Lawrence give two of the year’s most generous and honest performances. Silver Linings Playbook should not be missed.

SKYFALL (PG-13) The middle third of Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond is the best 007 adventure in 20, maybe even 30, years. Too bad director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and his team of scripters won’t just let Bond be Bond for the entirety of the film. Skyfall almost completely unravels before the opening credits. The pre-credits chase—involving Bond, a female agent, a train and a baddie—concludes with M (Judi Dench) showing no faith in her best agent, a decision that makes little sense in this, or any, Bond-verse. In three films, Bond has gone from a newly licensed Double 0 to a dinosaur; when can Bond just be Bond again? (At least Quantum of Solace got that very right.) For an hour and in its tantalizing conclusion, Skyfall dresses in the formalwear of traditional Bond. Q, an all-time great villain, Silva (a blonde, 100% pure crazy Javier Bardem) and more help balance cool deadliness with world-saving silliness. Through Moore and Brosnan’s tenures, the balance favored silly; Craig’s scale might be tipped too far in the opposite direction. If the right mixture can be found, we could again see a candidate for Best Bond Ever.

SNITCH (PG-13) To save his son from a prison sentence, John Matthews (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), agrees to go undercover for the DEA. It’s not hard to imagine Arnold taking this role in his heyday. The action flick is the third feature directed by stuntman turned filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh, who shares a writing credit with Revolutionary Road’s Justin Haythe. The supporting cast of toughs includes Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal (Shane from “The Walking Dead”), Susan Sarandon, Michael Kenneth Williams (better known as Omar Little from “The Wire”) and Benjamin Bratt.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (R) Leatherface returns! A young woman (the gorgeous Alexandra Daddario, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) heads to Texas for her inheritance and runs into the dangerous Sawyer clan and its chainsaw-wielding, skin-wearing man-child. Original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen and The Devil’s Rejects Bill Moseley, who played Chop-Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, make return appearances as Sawyers. Unfortunately, the latest Texas Chainsaw, sans the titular Massacre, is directed by the same guy who did the dreadful Takers.

THIS IS 40 (R) Sure, This Is 40 will provide viewers with more laughs than any of its contemporary comedic peers, but it should; it’s at least one sitcom episode longer than a typical comedy. Writer-director Judd Apatow, of whom I am a big fan, could definitely benefit from some stronger criticisms of overstuffed, raunch-filled dramedies. This semi-sequel to Knocked Up follows Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) as they turn 40. Life isn’t quite what they expected. They struggle to raise their two daughters (Apatow and Mann’s real life kids, Iris and Maude), support Pete’s dad (the always welcome Albert Brooks) and succeed in their professional lives. Apatow packs way too much into a comedy that amounts to six episodes of a situation comedy. By Pete’s climactic party, the movie ratchets up, focusing as much on comic C-plots with ancillary characters played by Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd and Megan Fox as on the A-plot. Fortunately, the cast of funny people, led by the uber-likable Rudd, can make anything funny, even the struggles of potty-mouthed, unaware adults seeking to blame their messed up lives on anyone (but especially their parents) but themselves. Somehow, Rudd, God bless him, makes that funny.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN—PART 2 (PG-13) The Twilight Saga has consistently improved as filmmakers have changed and the series has… um… matured? Bella (Kristen Stewart) is now a vampire; she and her husband, Edward (Robert Pattinson), have a new baby, Renesmee, whose existence threatens the vampire world’s ruling family, the Volturi (led by Michael Sheen). Now the Cullens, the Quileute wolves (including Taylor Lautner’s Jacob) and several blood-sucking pals must make a stand against the invading Italian vamps. Stephenie Meyer’s phenomenon concludes as satisfactorily as one would expect, though Breaking Dawn—Part 1 exceeds its follow-up, mostly thanks to the former’s more horrific plot. Part 2’s concluding battle merely proves Meyer’s non-monsters aren’t really vampires; they are romantic superheroes. The terrible CGI work—the needlessly computer-generated baby Renesmee vies for the worst special effect of 1992—shows the lack of serious craftsmanship with which this material has been handled.

WARM BODIES (PG-13) Having witnessed many a zombie apocalypse, I can say with complete assuredness that Warm Bodies is not your usual end of the world via the flesh-eating living dead flick. This zomrom stars X-Men: First Class Nicholas Hoult (poised for a big year with March’s Jack the Giant Slayer) as R, who is not your typical zombie. Blessed (or cursed) with a rather rich inner life, R still munches brains but he’s conflicted about it, especially after meeting Julie (Teresa Palmer, Take Me Tonight). She kickstarts his heart, starting a chain reaction amongst all the corpses (the survivors’ term for zombies), except for the too far gone Boneys. Working from Isaac Marion’s oddly delightful premise, filmmaker Jonathan Levine, who’s on quite a roll (he’s 4-for-4 in my book) after 50/50, whips up a still horrific, mostly romantic early Valentine for adventurous couples and soft-hearted horror fans. Levine retains his spot on the young filmmaker’s to watch list (that maybe only I am keeping). Not wasting Rob Corddry, as R’s BLDF (Best Living Dead Friend), and John Malkovich, as Julie’s overbearing, military father, is another of the film’s boons. Ignore the mawkish CW-meets-Twilight marketing and enjoy some rare bloody romance/heartfelt horror.

WRECK-IT RALPH (PG) 2012 was a good year for animation. Good luck deciding on the year's best animated feature from a strong list that includes Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and now Wreck-It Ralph. In Disney's latest, Wreck-It Ralph (v. John C. Reilly), the bad guy from popular arcade game Fix-It Felix Jr., decides he wants to be a good guy. Leaving the safety of his own regenerating world, Ralph enters a Halo-ish first-person shooter named Hero's Duty in search of a medal. Too bad Ralph is better at wrecking things than fixing them. This cute, inventive cartoon boasts several creative game worlds like the cavity-friendly candyland of Sugar Rush and a treasure trove of Easter eggs for lifelong and newer gamers. Director Rich Moore definitely learned a thing or two from his time working on the inside joke-heavy worlds of Matt Groening, "The Simpsons" and "Futurama." The voicework by Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling and more is top-notch, but one expects that level of competence from a high-profile animated feature. It's the plentiful heart and laughter Wreck-It Ralph offers viewers of all ages, gamer or not, that sets it apart. (UGA Tate Theatre)

ZERO DARK THIRTY (R) Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (recently snubbed for a second Best Director nomination) and her Oscar winning collaborator, screenwriter Mark Boal (he did receive his second nomination this year) follow up The Hurt Locker with this controversial, excellently crafted military thriller documenting the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden. Despite everyone (I hope) in the audience knowing how the story ends, Bigelow and Boal ratchet up the tension, as near misses and further attacks make the search, conducted by the ferociously single-minded screen proxy Maya (Best Actress nominee and slight favorite Jessica Chastain), that much more desperate. The controversial torture scenes, mostly contained in the first act, are tough to watch but factually necessary. The film ends with its well-earned climax, Seal Team Six’s daring nighttime raid, a rare action sequence that thrills and also chills with verisimilitude. Zero Dark Thirty is an intriguing, darkly patriotic counterpoint to the year’s other major American historical drama about a president willing to push the office’s constitutional limits for the sake of protecting the nation. Both films are award worthy and deserving of your entry fee, but Lincoln has the Oscar edge.