Monday, March 8, 2010

And the winner is ...


Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar for best director for the Iraq war film "The Hurt Locker" should help the cause of other women who want to direct films, but it's still going to be a long, hard slog.

That's because "The Hurt Locker" was the lowest-grossing movie ever to win best picture at about $15 million. As they say in the trades, it never opened.

In Hollywood, as in every other human endeavor, it's always about the money. Bigelow won enormous respect with her film and now Oscar, but in order to buy clout in Hollywood, you gotta show them the money.

Perhaps "The Hurt Locker" will get a modest bump from winning the big awards -- picture, direction, writing and editing -- but it still won't make what "Avatar" makes in a single day three months after it was released. "Avatar" has grossed $2.5 billion worldwide. As co-host Alex Baldwin quipped when the camera zeroed in on James Cameron, "Avatar" creator and Bigelow's ex-husband, "That cutaway of James Cameron just earned $3 million."

I'm sure Cameron was a little miffed "Avatar" didn't win best picture, but pleased that it won the awards it definitely should have for technical achievement: visual effects, cinematography and art direction.

Speaking of the co-hosts, Baldwin along with Steve Martin, it went better than expected. They had some quick jokes that nailed it. Some were even edgy: "Christoph Waltz played a Nazi (in 'Inglourious Basterds') obsessed with finding Jews," Martin said. "Well, Christoph," he then gestured across the Kodak Theater, "(here's) the mother lode."

In spite of that jab, Waltz had the classiest acceptance speech all night.

When the screenwriter for "Precious," Geoffrey Fletcher, won in an upset over "Up in the Air" for best adaptation, he gave an emotional, personal speech. Immediately afterward, Martin quipped, "I wrote that speech."

Yes, the awards show was too long and boring during stretches, but it's always been that way and likely always will. When it ended, Martin joked the show was so long, "that Avatar now takes place in the past."

The doubling of best picture nominees to 10 seemed to help ratings because they were up 14 percent over last year and the highest in five years.

But, back to Bigelow. She was clearly stunned by all the adulation as Barbra Streisand handed her the Oscar. (Streisand is famous for many things including not being nominated for directing "Yentl" in 1983 even though she won the Golden Globe for it.)

It should inspire girls and young women that they, too, can direct movies someday, and be successful at it. If women can flourish directing war films, their possibilities are endless.

Different voices and viewpoints are always welcome, especially at the movies.

Here's the official list of winners.

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