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Bigelow Vs. Cameron at IFC and Around the Web

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire February 11, 2010 at 6:25AM

As part of their Waverly Midnight series, the IFC Center will soon be transformed into a veritable marital boxing ring; pitting recent Oscar nominated ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron against each other. The series, subtly titled “Bigelow vs. Cameron” runs weekends at midnight from February 27 – April 17, and will feature screenings of their best known work including Bigelow's “Point Break” and “Strange Days” and Cameron's “The Abyss” and “True Lies.”
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As part of their Waverly Midnight series, the IFC Center will soon be transformed into a veritable marital boxing ring; pitting recent Oscar nominated ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron against each other. The series, subtly titled “Bigelow vs. Cameron” runs weekends at midnight from February 27 – April 17, and will feature screenings of their best known work including Bigelow's “Point Break” and “Strange Days” and Cameron's “The Abyss” and “True Lies.”

The press is touting this year’s Academy Awards to be an Access Hollywood-worthy showdown with the spouses competing for the Best Director trophy. Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” and Cameron’s “Avatar” are the front-runners for both the Best Picture and Best Directing awards, with nine nominations apiece. The worldwide media couldn't have asked for a better awards story. It's almost enough to make them forget the films at hand.

In the New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg dissects industry reactions to the two competing films, concluding that Bigelow and her film are the favored winners. Of “Avatar” he writes: “A lot of people like 'Avatar,' obviously, but a lot don’t—too cold, too formulaic, too computerized, too derivative…'Avatar' is polarizing. So is James Cameron. He may have fattened the bank accounts of a sizable bloc of Academy members—some three thousand people drew 'Avatar” paychecks—but that doesn’t mean that they all long to recrown him king of the world….These factors could push 'Avatar' toward the bottom of many a ranked-choice ballot.” While when it comes to Bigelow’s chances Hertzberg offers this: “Its underlying ethos is that war is hell, but it does not demonize the soldiers it portrays, whose job is to defuse bombs, not drop them. Even Republicans (and there are a few in Hollywood) think it’s good…And 'The Hurt Locker' has special appeal with two important and overlapping constituencies. If it’s picked, its director, Kathryn Bigelow, will become the first woman to have directed a Best Picture winner. This would please women and men who like to see glass ceilings smashed, whether or not they were Hillary Clinton supporters. The other group is ex-wives, who are numerous in the movie colony. James Cameron has four. No. 3 is Kathryn Bigelow.”

Kiri Blakeley on Forbes.com consents with Hertzberg’s analysis stating that “Avatar’s” reliance on CGI performances and Cameron's previous wins lessen his chances come Oscar night. “'Avatar''s chances…are clouded by its reliance on animation technology, which, not surprisingly, Hollywood actors are worried about. Work is hard enough to get without being replaced by blue pixels--though Cameron went out of his way to thank his actors at the Golden Globes, noting that they provided the emotions, expressions and movements that were later layered over with computer graphics. Besides, Cameron is already king of the Oscar world. His "Titanic" sank the competition at the 1998 ceremony. That time, Cameron's movie was no upset. He had gone into the Oscars having won not only the Golden Globe but also most of the major directorial awards given out that season. Voters may not want to crown a king twice.”

The Alt Film Guide’s Andre Soares chimes in saying “…don’t expect a 'Titanic' replay. 'The Hurt Locker' has already won both the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild awards; it’s now the favorite to win the best picture Oscar. Bigelow is all but assured an Oscar statuette, which would make her the first woman to ever win in that category.”

However many see Cameron’s film taking home the night’s big honor, simply due to the "Avatar"'s towering success over Bigelow's critical darling. Ben Holye of The Times (UK) offers his take: "Cameron remains the favorite for the Oscars because his film is the one that best chimes with an apparent drift back towards favoring mainstream hits at awards ceremonies. Viewing figures for the Oscar ceremony have been in decline since 1998, when a domestic audience of 57 million watched "Titanic" sweep the board.”

And on Gawker.com, blogger Foster Kamers dwindles the two pictures down to what the Oscar’s represent to him personally: “What's more American? A movie about the soldiers in Iraq, or a movie that made an inconceivable amount of money? Best Director's gonna go to Kathryn Bigelow, and Best Picture's gonna go to Cameron and 'Avatar.' Best Picture typically represents the achievement Hollywood wants to tout as the one they're most "proud" of, rather than the one that's actually the best thing out there, which they'll give out for Best Director. 59 out of the 80 films to win Best Director won Best Picture, while 21 went home sans Big Prize. Everyone supposedly wins in this situation...The end.”

The complete schedule of midnight screenings at IFC is below:

"BIGELOW VS. CAMERON" Weekends at midnights, Feb. 26-Apr. 17

February 26-27: "Point Break" (1991, Kathryn Bigelow)

March 5-6: "The Abyss" (1989, James Cameron)

March 12-13: "Blue Steel" (1989, Bigelow)

March 19-20: "True Lies" (1994, Cameron)

March 26-27: "Strange Days" (1995, Bigelow)

April 2-3: "Aliens" (1986, Cameron)

April 9-10: "Near Dark" (1987, Bigelow)

April 16-17: "The Terminator" (1984, Cameron)

This article is related to: Features, Academy Awards