Ignore, for the moment, the controversy over this drama's scenes of "enhanced interrogations" and appreciate this movie for what it is: a kickass thriller about how U.S. intelligence officers tracked down Osama bin Laden. Kathryn Bigelow's visceral direction and Mark Boal's intricate script work together to create a fascinating look at the decade-long search. Even though we've all read about the eventual raid on bin Laden's compound, the segment showing that in "Zero Dark Thirty" provides a new sense of reality and crackles with pulse-pounding power. Jessica Chastain has been drawing all the glowing reviews for her turn as the tough, smart CIA officer who's instrumental in the investigation, and rightly so. But the bench is deep when it comes to this cast. Jason Clarke, who is all gravity and masculinity, gives a star-making performance as a CIA investigator. Of course, it's worth debating the accuracy of "Zero Dark Thirty," but, first, see this intense, masterful film.
- KRISTINA DORSEY