Hindsight is 20/20. Like some of the other Oscar-buzzy films of the season Lincoln and Argo, viewers start out knowing exactly how the film will end. Yet Bigelow comes as close as she can to obscuring the light at the end of the tunnel, of recreating the doubt and disappointment—some of it fatal—that paved the road to that compound in Abbottabad.
Zero Dark Thirty premieres in New York and Los Angeles Friday, Dec. 19 and nationwide Friday, Jan. 11.
Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.