18 Elements that Combine to Render ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ the Most Powerful Film Ever Made About the 9/11 Era

  1. The ability to tell a more effective story by maintaining a tight focus
  2. Resisting the urge to exploit stock footage from September 11, 2001
  3. Forcing the audience to consider more than one side of every argument
  4. A 2 hr., 36 min. running time that doesn’t waste a single frame
  5. Jessica Chastain
  6. A screenplay which is largely based on first-hand accounts from government officials and military personnel
  7. A prevalent stance that is pro-America, yet apolitical
  8. A climactic sequence that makes the movie Seal Team Six look like it was constructed out of Legos
  9. The ongoing knack to work as a procedural, a semi-reliable document, and an entertaining film
  10. Kathryn Bigelow
  11. The decision to include an uncompromising depiction of torture
  12. Introducing the phrase “Tradecraft” into the pop culture lexicon
  13. A final trailer that will do the same thing for “Nothing Else Matters” that The Social Network did for “Creep
  14. Jason Clarke
  15. The inclusion of highly-sensitive – perhaps even classified – material
  16. A cornucopia of double-agent super-spy-type shit
  17. A diamond-tight storyline that is as fascinating as it is intense, and
  18. The fact that Osama Bin Laden gets to die at the end.

(Zero Dark Thirty opens in limited release today, with a national rollout to follow on January 11.)