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Will a Directing Oscar for Kathryn Bigelow Be Good for Women?

By Miscellaneous | | February 1, 2010 |

By Miscellaneous | | February 1, 2010 |

Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow for becoming the first female to win a DGA Award for feature film directing. And congratulations to blogs lazily implying she’s the first woman to win a DGA Award period. Many other women have been honored by the guild for TV work, idiots.

Anyway, yes, she’s made a leap for womankind, and she’ll likely leap even further when she takes home the Oscar for directing on March 7th, becoming the first female filmmaker to do so. But will this leap be as falsely forward as Neil Armstrong’s? Is The Hurt Locker like the Moon Landing, with maybe a few more women gaining recognition for their craft but ultimately doing little for the progress of women filmmakers?

Okay, that may be an annoying analogy. But not as annoying as both the male dominance of the film industry and the patriarchal perspective that needs to keep talking about Bigelow’s gender and how it signifies her achievements, especially as an action filmmaker.

And articles like the one in the Guardian that asks, “Why are there so few female filmmakers?” and others that wonder if Bigelow’s (expected) Oscar win will help, encourage or empower female filmmakers as a whole (as a group? No, let’s not isolate them) are also annoying.

Just look around. There are and have been many women filmmakers, both good and bad. And great female collaborators who are just as important as the directors they work with (RIP Karen Schmeer). Sure, it sucks that both the industry and in some ways the audience is chauvinist. But silly awards don’t really matter as long as they’ve done great work. Especially when it’s hard to determine if they get the award because they’re women or they don’t get an award because they’re women.

Now if only tomorrow’s nominations for Best Director consist of Bigelow, Jane Campion, Andrea Arnold, Sophie Barthes and Agnes Varda. Then we can fist pump the sky for women.

  • Melissa Silverstein at Women & Hollywood:
    This is big.

    This is Sally Ride, first woman in space big. This is Sandra Day O’Connor, first female on the Supreme Court big. This is Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs big.

    This is a big, bold blast in the glass ceiling for all women directors.

  • Irin at Jezebel:
    The Bigelow lovefest, according to reports (the event isn’t televised or webcast) ranged from praise of her directorial chops to praise of her legs. (All nominated directors give speeches whether they win or not). […] According to The Wrap’s Steve Pond’s Twitter feed, Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner joked, “The only thing to rival Kathryn Bigelow in a bikini is Lee Daniels in a one-piece.”

    Daniels himself said in his pre-award speech, “My sister sent me a text before the show. She just wanted to know if Kathryn Bigelow had won yet. Kathryn, your movie is as beautiful as your legs. You make me question my sexuality.”

  • Andre Soares at Alt Film Guide:
    Comments abounded on Bigelow’s looks — in other words, on the fact that she’s a woman. Had she been a handsome guy, I wonder how many remarks would have been made about his physical attributes. And how many male directors and presenters would be publicly questioning their sexuality.
  • Adam Rosenberg at MTV Movies Blog:
    There are other factors to consider for the Best Director category. I hate to say it, but Bigelow’s gender is likely a consideration for Academy voters […] she’s a woman, which is unfortunately an unusual sight in the Best Director category. As much as Cameron deserves a pat on the back for outdoing his “Titanic” box office with “Avatar,” the Academy Awards should be about honoring craft, and few candidates are more deserving this year than Bigelow.
  • Bill Gibron at PopMatters:
    Hundreds of critics have fallen for Bigelow’s work - yours truly included - but the fact remains that if this movie had been directed by Ken Bigelow instead of Kathryn, one imagines the rush to reward would be a little slower - maybe. […] This isn’t meant to diminish Bigelow’s win. It’s a BIG, BIG deal. If she does walk away with a statue in March (and the DGA selection has only not matched the eventual Oscar winner on six other occasions), she makes the kind of history that, occasionally, marks radical change. It’s been a long while since something this significant has come to the Academy Awards, although there are dozens of indefensible wrongs that the organization still has to answer for (Asians? Hispanics? Foreign Films and Filmmakers? Documentaries?).
  • Sasha Stone at Awards Daily:
    When a director who has been kicking around that long directs his/her best film? Usually he/she is rewarded for it. So anyone who wants to toss out the “because she’s a woman,” you’ll have to show me a time, one time, in 82 years any Director winner won because of their minority status. Has it ever helped black men? Nope. Gay men? Maybe Asians but is anyone really going to say that Ang Lee won Oscars because he was Asian?
  • Peter Sciretta at /Film:
    Sofia Coppola was the first third woman to ever be nominated for the best director Academy Award, for Lost in Translation in 2003, but of course, she lost to Peter Jackson. […] Coppola’s nomination didn’t inspire a surge of female filmmakers (as far as I can tell), would/can a Best Director win by Bigelow change anything?
  • Guy Lodge at In Contention:
    Talk about a good day for female filmmakers. Hours before Kathryn Bigelow’s history-making triumph at the DGA Awards, Debra Granik took the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance (in the U.S. Dramatic strand) for her critically lauded sophomore feature “Winter’s Bone.” Granik and co-writer Anne Rosselini also took screenwriting honors for the film.

  • Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical:
    I can’t blame her for wanting to remove herself from the “female filmmaker” moniker in light of that, but it’s also a shame. Winning for The Hurt Locker and making history is the perfect time for female directors — especially Bigelow — to speak up and celebrate the variety of women’s interests and talents, not shying away because it qualifies your accomplishments. Because, even with the win, it’s clear that Hollywood still needs to hear it — a strong and clear mantra that can slowly teach everyone that it’s not about the legs, the romcoms, and the stereotypical assumptions.

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