The 82nd Academy Awards were a great success tonight, held at the Kodak Theatre here in Hollywood, California. Although the time has been threatened to be cut shorter, tonight’s program rounded out with the red carpet entry, at exactly four hours. And though acceptance speeches were also threatened to be cut completely, and put only on the internet, they remained.
After Neil Patrick Harris’ introduction, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin made the start of the show a success with some hilarious comedy, ripping on many of the nominated stars, including their favorite to pick on, George Clooney. After concerns that formerly planned Sacha Baron Cohen would denigrate the esteemed event with his ways, he was dropped. Ben Stiller instead succeed with a funny rendition as a character from “Avatar,” complete with face paint and a tail.
Chicago filmmaker legend John Hughes legacy was given due nods, with the cast of some of his great comedies including Macaulay Culkin , Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall, in a touching memorial in front of his family. And while the best picture prize winner was cut short (too much break dancing perhaps), they squeezed the award in at the last minute.
Many were surprised that the most successful film of all time, “Avatar,” lost best picture. Even more ironic, is that the film’s director, James Cameron, is ex-husband of the winner. With an African American as president of the United States, and an African American woman, Mo’Nique winning best supporting actress for Oprah’s touted “Precious”, it seemed right that the director of “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow, would win best picture as she did. But the fact that she is the first woman not only to win the award for best director, but also to lead the film itself that won best picture, as “Hurt Locker” did, is remarkable.
What is even more unique is that Hurt Locker is not some lighthearted love story of wine and roses that was an easy shoot. Instead, Ms. Bigelow directed a gripping, edge of the seat war movie with riveting action, violence, and explosives. To say that Kathryn Bigelow proves that American female directors can get in the trenches as the best of any male director is an understatement.
And Kathryn Bigelow’s wins go to show that while it still has a long way to go in this regard, as does the rest of society, the Hollywood film industry is becoming more and more a place of diversity. The charming, talented and lovely Sandra Bullock won best actress for “The Blind Side,” and the ever talented and cool Jeff Bridges won best actor for “Crazy Heart,” among others.
During her onstage speech, Kathryn Bigelow accepted her award for best picture for “The Hurt Locker,” stating, “I was just gonna’ reiterate that (…) Rob and Patrick, (…) took a very brave shot with this movie (…) we owe them dearly. Perhaps one more dedication, to men and women all over the world who (…) wear a uniform, but even not just the military – HazMat, emergency, firemen. They’re there for us and we’re there for them. Thank you. Thank you.” She later tells us at The Governors Ball, that girls who dream of being directors should believe that anything they want to happen can happen and come true.
The Hurt Locker’s win sends a message that mainstream Hollywood, largely defined by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences A which holds the Oscars, are more concerned with reality, for the present, and ending war, rather than fighting it in some fantasy. While “Avatar” was an expected win for a great film, we can be sure that Mr. Cameron, with the most profitable film of all time, will somehow survive. For now, his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow gets the glory. This year above all others, she shows clearly that she stands on her own as she shines bright- and she deserves it.