Kathryn Bigelow: Hollywood's Heroine

A historic "Best Director" win

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Breaking through the "celluloid ceiling," Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award for directing. Her Iraq war film The Hurt Locker trounced fan-favorite Avatar, bringing in six trophies including the prize for Best Picture. She downplayed her identity as a female filmmaker saying "I'd love to just think of myself as a filmmaker. And I long for the day when that modifier can be a moot point." The morning after, Hollywood reporters are reflecting on what Bigelow's achievement means for women in the film industry at large.

  • An Understated Pioneer, writes Reed Johnson at the Los Angeles Times: "It's therefore striking, maybe ironic, that throughout her career Bigelow has quietly avoided attempts to define, or limit, her by relating her gender to her films. She was consistent in that regard last night, praising her fellow nominees and thanking her filmmaking collaborators and the men and women of the U.S. armed services, but not citing any past female artists." He emphasized the gravity of Bigelow's achievement. "Only three other women had ever been nominated for director: Lina Wertmüller for "Seven Beauties" (1975); Jane Campion for "The Piano" (1993); and Sofia Coppola for "Lost in Translation" (2003)."
  • Couldn't Have Been a More Suitable Presenter, writes Gregg Kilday at Hollywood Reporter: "Barbra Streisand... appeared to savor the envelope-opening since her own efforts to break down barriers for female directors had been ignored by the Academy in an earlier era."
  • Hollywood Is Still a Boys Club, writes Rachel Abramowitz at the Los Angeles Times: "Although successful female directors appear to have gained higher profiles of late, the actual percentage of top films directed by women has remained static for 25 years at 7% to 9%... Neither Warner Bros., the world's largest studio, nor Paramount Pictures hired a single female director last year, while Walt Disney Studios and Universal Studios hired just one apiece. No woman has ever been hired to direct an event picture with a budget of more than $100 million, the kind of film most valued by the Hollywood machine."
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