A Night for the Women

The Oscars are by far one of the biggest, if not the biggest, television events of the year. Something like 3 billion people tune in all around the world to watch who will take home the golden statue. I am one of them. I don’t tune in every year and I usually don’t watch the whole thing but I have to admit there is a certain excitement of seeing what everyone is wearing and who wins and who has the best acceptance speech.

This year the Oscars were even more thrilling. Not only was one of my favorite actresses nominated (Sandra Bullock), but also there was the possibility that either the first African American or first female director would win the Best Director Award. It turned out that it was a night for women. Mo’Nique won best supporting actress for Precious, Sandra Bullock won best actress for The Blind Side, and Kathryn Bigelow won best director for The Hurt Locker.

Mo’Nique I had seen in her stand up comedy and in various other movies. Sandra Bullock I had heard of. But, I had never heard of Kathryn Bigelow until this year.

Seemingly out of nowhere there was buzz about an independent movie, The Hurt Locker and its director, Kathryn Bigelow. I knew very little about her. I knew she was married to James Cameron, who in case you have been living under a rock, was also nominated for the same award for directing this small film called Avatar.  (I’m kidding of course, Avatar is the highest grossing film ever made.) The only other thing I knew was that she directed The Hurt Locker, which is about soldiers in the war zone in Iraq who are apart of the EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) squad, which dismantles bombs. The movie looks at the soldier’s lives and the conflicts and problems they deal with.  The movie doesn’t seem to have any political message, merely giving a glimpse into the duties and experiences of soldiers near the war zone.

For the first time in the 82 years of the Academy Awards, a female won Best Director. There have only been four women nominated for the Best Director Oscar:

Lina Wertmüller was the first woman to be nominated for Best Director in 1972 for the film Seven Beauties. The second woman nominated was Jane Champion for directing The Piano. Sofia Coppola was nominated in 2003 for directing Lost in Translation. And finally, Kathryn Bigelow completes the list of four with her nomination and win this year for directing the Hurt Locker

What does this all mean? I don’t know. What I do know is that a lot of women direct, produce, and write movies every year, most of which probably don’t get seen by that many people. It makes me sad that it took so long for a female to win the director category and even sadder that only 4 have been nominated.

While, there are still improvements needed where it comes to women in movies and art in general, this year’s Academy Awards are not to be discounted.  A beautiful, curvy, funny, African American woman won for Best Supporting Actress. A 45-year-old, Miss Congeniality woman won Best Actress. And a 59-year-old woman made an independent movie about soldiers and won Best Director and Best Picture beating the best selling film of all time. Not to shabby, if I do say so myself.

Next month, Assistant Professor of Film & Media Arts, Caitlin Horsmon, will present the lecture, From Guy-Blanche to Bigelow:  Women Behind the Camera in Hollywood Cinema on Wednesday, April 7 at noon in the Miller Nichols Library.  You are invited to bring a lunch and hear Dr. Horsmon’s views on the history of women’s roles as directors in the Hollywood film industry over the past 100 years.  She will discuss the challenges faced by women working behind the camera and the interventions they’ve made into the canon of American film culture.

One thought on “A Night for the Women

  1. These women did a great job in the films they won for. You did a great job highlighting their success.

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