Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty screened last Friday night for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and the immediate word (based on responses from two HFPA members passed along second-hand) was “definitely Jessica Chastain for Best Lead Actress, Drama” but less enthusiasm for the film itself.

This, keep in mind, is from an organization composed of foreign-allied “journalists” who may not be as receptive to a film about a U.S. military operation as ooh-rah American journos, and who gave their Best Motion Picture, Drama award in 2010 to Avatar over The Hurt Locker.

Zero Dark Thirty clocks in around two hours and 40 minutes, or just under that. (The credit block is still being worked on.) For a film that appears to be largely an action procedural, to me this spells hard-core integrity and comprehensiveness. Bigelow and Boal arent stupid — they know it’s in their general interest to keep the running time closer to 120 minutes or a bit less, but the material told them the length had to be 160 minutes. This is what happens with every script, article, book and movie. The author is told what to do, and he/she obeys.