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Kathryn Bigelow - 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Pro: Almost three years have passed since Bigelow made history by becoming the first woman ever to take the Best Director gong for critics' darling “The Hurt Locker,” and all eyes will be on her follow-up to see if she's maintained her form. The studio has successfully managed to keep “Zero Dark Thirty” largely under wraps; even at this stage, little is known about the war actioner, though positive word is starting to spread. Sometimes it pays to be the mystery package, and Bigelow is someone everyone wants to see succeed.
Con: The on-paper similarities between “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker” could count against it once the film is seen: comparisons will be inevitable, and if the new film doesn't attract the same level of critical consensus as its predecessor, the falloff could be steep. With so many awards-targeted releases coming down the pike in December, Bigelow's rough-and-ready approach will need critical and/or commercial endorsement to fend off the glossier competition.
- Guy Lodge