Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Women

Could 2010 be the very first year that more than one woman is christened with a Academy Award Best Director nomination? In the history of the Oscar, only three women have been given the Best director nod (Lina Wertmuller, 1976; Jane Campion, 1993; Sofia Coppola, 2003), but none of them were ever considered serious contenders to win. This year, there are three women filmmakers who are serious contenders to get recognition for their directing. There's action film veteran Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), the Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig (An Education), and a familiar face: Jane Campion, who made Bright Star, her best film in over a decade.

We all have the same feelings about Oscar: we all say that it doesn't have great significance in the long run of film history (Hitchcock, Kurosawa, P.T. Anderson, to name a few, have ever won one). The truth, within Hollywood circles, is that everyone wants one. But the golden statue could be particularly coveted by women filmmakers. Not because they want awards more than men, but specifically because they've never been given it. When Sydney Portier became the first black man to win a Best Actor award, it was considered revolutionary. When the first woman, white or black, wins Best Director, I assume it won't get the same amount of hoorah, but it should.

Bigelow directing in the desert...

I've seen The Hurt Locker, and feel that it was probably the greatest film made about the Iraq war. It was understated, methodical, and wondrously created. Bigelow, best known for her films Point Break and Strange Days, allowed the film to take its time which gave room for the characters to fully encapsulate the tension and obsession that comes with war. It was different from any war movie I'd ever seen, and I'd be very disappointed if she isn't recognized. I've yet to see An Education, but I've announced my love for Campion's Bright Star here. I won't delude myself into thinking that two of them, let alone all three, will be nominated (not with the big dogs like Peter Jackson and Clint Eastwood releasing films later in the year), but there is no denying that this year will give a lot of exposure to women filmmakers. Hopefully, Mira Nair's horrible Amelia won't set them back twenty years.

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