On February 2, Kathryn Bigelow received a Best Director nomination by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for her film The Hurt Locker. Bigelow is only the fourth woman to be nominated for the award. The three previous women nominees were Lina Wertmuller for Seven Beauties (1976), Jane Campion for The Piano (1993) and Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation (2003). Surprised? Well also consider that in the Academy’s eighty-one years no female director has ever won the award.
The Hurt Locker follows three soldiers in a U.S. Army bomb disposal unit at work in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. The film has been praised for its suspense and action but also for its thoughtful depiction of the complex relationships among three men surviving in terrifying conditions. Many of Bigelow’s previous films have also explored violence and relationships between men, including her 1991 film Point Break. This subject matter is regarded as unusual content for women directors, especially by those who might associate them only with romantic comedies.
It’s an honor to be nominated, but will Bigelow win and end the long Oscar drought for women directors? People in the entertainment media are beginning to think she has enough momentum to win the Oscar. This momentum grew on January 30 when Bigelow received the Directors Guild of America’s award for the year’s best directed feature film—the first woman director to do so. This award is a good predictor for Oscar gold: in the more than sixty years that the award has been given, only six Directors Guild of America victors have failed to go on to win an Academy Award.
Add The Hurt Locker to your Netflix queue today and then tune in to the 81st annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 7! Best of luck to Ms. Bigelow!