Luncheon with Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Jessica Chastain, and Jason Clarke!

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Though already scheduled, the people behind ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ had amazing timing in assembling a group of industry insiders and Oscar pundits to break bread last Thursday only days after the film had picked up the first two precursor awards of the season. Essentially a luncheon to celebrate the film and main players Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Jessica Chastain, and Jason Clarke, this was a mellow little event that served as a reminder that this flick is going for it all in 2012. Earlier in the movie had its press junket (which also featured supporting player Kyle Chandler, who wasn’t at this more intimate event), so we’re all going to be very familiar with those ladies and gentlemen before all is said and done.

The main thing I took from the event was that these 4 are going to be doing whatever it takes to help ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ be a winner. Bigelow and Boal have done this before together, and even recognized some of us gathered from the campaign a few years back for ‘The Hurt Locker’. Bigelow knows how to work a room in the classiest of ways, and Boal just oozes intelligence, and despite his notions to the contrary, is always one of the most interesting people in the room to talk to. Both clearly know what it takes to win, and even if that’s not at the forefront of their minds, they’re doing a great job so far of keeping the quality of their work on display for voters. Of course, Chastain is for many the main attraction and she didn’t disappoint. She’s very warm and bubbly, something that will serve her well all during this season. She could very well become the Best Actress frontrunner with a few more of these events and a few more precursor wins. Personally, I had the best time with Clarke, but that was just the way things worked out in that I got the most time to talk with him, including some nice 1 on 1 time outside the restaurant. He strikes you as just a regular guy doing what he loves, and that doesn’t hurt his campaign for a surprise Best Supporting Actor nod either.

Also worth noting is that this is the type of event where you can take the temperature of Oscar voters, learning what they’ve seen and haven’t seen. Much like a similar event I attended last year for Demian Bichir and ‘A Better Life’, I found that people don’t race out to see the films you’d expect them to. They really do wait for the end of the year and the last possible moments to see what they think they need to, obviously a double-edged sword for contenders. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is hoping to keep in the minds of guild members, and so far so good in my eyes.

Clearly, you can’t take much away from a schmooze like this one, but it’s all part of judging the evolving nature of the race. A few weeks ago, barely anyone was talking about ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ or Kathryn Bigelow as potential winners, but that’s all changed now. The season is getting super exciting, so stay tuned for much more to come!

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!