This weekend, indieWIRE's end-of-Sundance condo party was rocked by the announcement that Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to be awarded the DGA's award for film. A week before, "The Hurt Locker" won big at the PGAs. She and the film have been frontrunners since "The Hurt Locker" had an exciting summer run in theaters (The film even opened well on four theaters, grossing $36,000 per theater when it debuted in June). However, late momentum from Bigelow's ex James Cameron, in the form of two big Golden Globe wins has made "Locker"'s future uncertain. This morning, the Academy has announced that Bigelow will be in the running for the Oscar. So what are the chances of Ms. Bigelow becoming the first woman to nab the directing Oscar? (Or should we even care at all?)
On the New York Times' Carpetbagger blog, Melena Ryzik reports on the other DGA nominations' reactions to Bigelow's win. "“The amount of directorial control in ‘The Hurt Locker’ is second to none,” Jason Reitman said in a video interview with Roger Ebert. 'She’s going to win, she deserves to win. Spectacular film.' This is a sentiment the Bagger heard Quentin Tarantino second, offstage, at the Directors Guild of America awards. Onstage, Lee Daniels, the director of 'Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire' said he was so enamored of Ms. Bigelow that he was questioning his sexual orientation. And James Cameron, the director of 'Avatar,' has repeatedly said publicly that he is happy for his former spouse and her success with 'The Hurt Locker.'"
Moviefone, in a feature by Anna Diamond, acquaints their audience with Ms. Bigelow, "Bigelow's films tend to hinge on intense action, visceral tension and technical expertise. In 'The Hurt Locker,' for example, she steered clear of what she calls "HMEs" (Hollywood movie explosions), opting instead for the real deal, down to the kind of grey, particulate smoke that blasts create in the desert. Bigelow also approaches subcultures with a deft hand -- from surfers to rap artists and, most recently, 'The Hurt Locker''s bomb squad experts in post-invasion Iraq."
On the L.A. Times' The Envelope blog, comedian Andy Kindler is asked what he thinks of Cameron, "No. Do they have a category for most egomaniacal director? I think he'd win hands down." "So who is your top pick for director?" "Everyone seems to like "The Hurt Locker," so I'd vote for Kathryn Bigelow." With an answer like that, I suspect Mr. Kindler hasn't seen the film, so let's get onto some more verifiable experts...
Krystal Clark of Screen Crave called it for Bigelow before the "Avatar" buzz, "Bigelow’s work on 'The Hurt Locker' can’t be ignored. She helmed a brutally honest war film, with strong performances and a great screenplay. She’s proven that female directors don’t have to stick to romantic comedies to have a successful career." Julian Sancton, in Vanity Fair called it for Bigelow in September, "'But a woman has never won best director!,' I hear you scoff, you statistics-obsessed misogynist. Why must you have so little faith in the Academy’s ability to eventually catch up with the times, even if it takes decades? And if any woman can break through that barrier, it’s Bigelow, whose films—including 'Near Dark,' 'Point Break,' and 'K-19: The Widowmaker'—reveal a fluency with the language, passions, and struggles of men on par with Michael Bay's. (Thankfully the comparison ends there.)"
A final word from Roger Ebert, on the topic of "Avatar" taking the glory at this year's Oscars, "If it won, that will be a sad day. Yes, it’s a phenomenon and I loved the experience. But the best film? Not compared to those other titles ['The Hurt Locker' and 'Up in the Air'], it isn’t. To be seen to advantage, it needs big-screen 3-D. A DVD viewing will remove much of its impact, leaving many home viewers asking, What was the big deal?"