Tabloid tawdriness to rule at the Oscars?
James Cameron, left, director of “Avatar,” and Kathryn Bigelow, director of “The Hurt Locker,” pose together last month at the 15th Annual Critics Choice Movie Awards in Los Angeles. His science-fiction sensation “Avatar” and her war-on-terror thriller “The Hurt Locker” lead the Academy Awards with nine nominations each, including best picture and director. How much should their relationship as former spouses be part of this story? (Associated Press file photo)
The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, with James Cameron’s high-tech sci-fi epic “Avatar” and Kathryn Bigelow’s heart-pounding Iraq War drama “The Hurt Locker” both earning a leading nine nominations.
Or as the Associated Press’ David Germain put in the lead to his story:
The science-fiction sensation “Avatar” and the war-on-terror thriller “The Hurt Locker” lead the Academy Awards with nine nominations each, including best picture and director for James Cameron and ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow.
If Bigelow’s low-budget but excellent independent film has to play the proverbial second fiddle to a mega-blockbuster that has become the top-grossing movie of all time, that’s one thing. That’s life. That’s just the way it is. Money equals power.
But please, for the love of the 19th Amendment, tell me that we’re not going to spend the rest of awards season hearing about the big showdown between Cameron and his ex-wife.
And I make this plea knowing full well that it is a futile effort. I get the sneaking suspicion I’m about to start having recurring dreams of Bigelow winning best director at the Oscars and the TV announcer declaring, ‘This is the first nomination in the category for James Cameron’s ex-wife.”
Just my opinion, but I think it’s insulting to Bigelow that her two-year marriage to Cameron, which ended in 1991, should make it into the lead of a story about her small film matching his juggernaut for Oscar nominations.
And it’s downright wrong that her role in this Hollywood drama should be that of his ex-wife. (So far, I’ve seen just a few stories that have referred to Cameron as Bigelow’s ex-husband, though that may change if she wins the best director Oscar.)
As Germain’s story points out, Bigelow is only the fourth woman to be nominated for a directing Oscar, joining Sofia Coppola for 2003′s “Lost in Translation,” Jane Campion for 1993′s “The Piano” and Lena Wertmuller for 1975′s “Seven Beauties.”
No woman has ever won the directing Oscar, and Bigelow has a solid shot at making history. After all, she made history Sunday when she became the first woman to earn the Director’s Guild of America award for best direction.
Bigelow deserves to win the best director Academy Award, too, Oscar history and gender issues notwithstanding. “The Hurt Locker” is an astonishing film and directorial feat. She turned former embedded journalist Mark Boal’s screenplay, also nominated for an Oscar, into a war film that is both heart pounding and thought provoking. And she drew an Oscar-caliber performance out of star Jeremy Renner, who also got an Academy Award nod this morning.
(In full disclosure, I haven’t seen “Avatar” but fully intend to very soon. But I want to see it in IMAX 3-D, which isn’t that easy when there’s only one IMAX house in the whole Oklahoma City metro area – it’s more than 20 miles from my house, by the way – and you’re trying to catch a 162-minute film.)
Even if Bigelow didn’t deserve the Oscar, she deserves better than to wear the label “James Cameron’s ex-wife” like a millstone around her neck through the March 7 awards show and beyond.
Cameron has four ex-wives – he has been married since 2000 to Oklahoma City-born actress Suzy Amis – and I don’t think any of them deserve to carry that designation around as if it were a job title, particularly in news stories about some great achievement they have accomplished in their own right.
I don’t want to make Cameron out to be the bad guy in this situation. I’ve never interviewed him and don’t know him personally, so I have no idea how he feels about the media coverage of awards season. But I thought he was gracious at the Golden Globes when he won the best director award. He said he wasn’t prepared with a speech since he thought Bigelow would win and should have won, though he was grateful to be named the honoree.
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