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January 31, 2010 1:32 AM   Subscribe


 
I think the movies she makes (for the most part) are far more interesting than the fact that she's a woman making them. So good on her. It's a shame we even have to have this conversation but this is where we are.

I still think Strange Days is an underrated masterpiece that holds up remarkably well. (No, you shut up)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:53 AM on January 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh and Near Dark is the vampire movie that Twilight would wish that it were smart enough to attempt to even want to try to rip off if it only had the taste and self-awareness to in the first place.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:56 AM on January 31, 2010


That made more sense in my head. It's late.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:58 AM on January 31, 2010


I think she's great and wish her luck!
posted by bebrave! at 1:58 AM on January 31, 2010


I still can't believe Penny Marshall didn't bag an Oscar after helming Jumpin' Jack Flash back in '86. A tour de force if ever I saw one.
posted by Usher at 2:07 AM on January 31, 2010


For that extra-special goodness, Bigelow's ex-husband is James Cameron. He directed a smaller picture you may not have heard of called "Avatar", which was also in the running.

It's always nice when you can not only win, but win AND rub it in the face of your ex-husband.

Cameron will have to console himself by sleeping on a giant bed made entirely out of $100 bills, which he had constructed out of the money he found under the cushions of his sofa which is also made out of $100 bills.
posted by Justinian at 2:34 AM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Justinian, did you read the article? The very first paragraph reads:

"Frankly, I thought Kathryn was gonna get this," James Cameron said of fellow nominee (and his ex-wife) Kathryn Bigelow as he picked up his Golden Globe for Best Director for Avatar a week ago. "And she richly deserves it."
posted by Dysk at 3:09 AM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]



I still can't believe Penny Marshall didn't bag an Oscar after helming Jumpin' Jack Flash back in '86. A tour de force if ever I saw one.


That Whoopi Goldberg film was better than Platoon?
posted by the cuban at 3:45 AM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw Kathryn Bigelow on the Colbert Report a couple months ago. She looked young but seemed to have a pretty mature disposition. I actually thought she was just a few years out of film school or something.

Then I read the other day that she had directed the movie Strange Days which I had loved when it came out in '95. But that was 15 years ago, so I wondered how old she actually was and it turned out she was 58. Her first movie was released in 1982

Also, Strange Days was written by Cameron, I it came up when i was reading something talking about how Cameron actually was a good writer, despite the bad writing in Avatar and Terminator.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 AM on January 31, 2010


Also, Strange Days was written by Cameron, I it came up when i was reading something talking about how Cameron actually was a good writer, despite the bad writing in Avatar and Terminator.

A common sentiment seems to be that Cameron can write good stories, but that his dialogue is not up to scratch.

I'm not too bothered by it. I enjoyed Avatar a lot, and Strange Days is easily one of my favourite movies. I think I've bought it three times now because I keep making the fool error of loaning it out to jerksfriends. It's great to see Bigelow getting some little golden trophies.
posted by dumbland at 4:53 AM on January 31, 2010


Ah, Lost in translation. Wikipedia reminds me that on that year the nominees were the aforementioned movie, Eastwood's Mystic River, Meirelles' City of God and Weir's Master and Commander. Peter Jackson got it for RotK. Er, okay. It's a glass ceiling for sure, but not an artistic one.
posted by ersatz at 4:56 AM on January 31, 2010


I still can't believe Penny Marshall didn't bag an Oscar after helming Jumpin' Jack Flash back in '86. A tour de force if ever I saw one.

To be fair, Marshall did go on to direct Big, Awakenings and A League of Their Own, all decent movies. She's certainly a better director than her brother, whose movies I'd need a gun to my head to sit through.
posted by octothorpe at 5:05 AM on January 31, 2010


> Peter Jackson got it for RotK.

To this day, I'm still amazed that anyone nominated in any categories with RotK even bothered to show up.
posted by Decimask at 5:58 AM on January 31, 2010


> Peter Jackson got it for RotK.

That was pretty much an award to Jackson for the LoTR trilogy.
posted by Atreides at 6:16 AM on January 31, 2010


But can she win against a strong field?

No, she'll just lose to Avatar.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:54 AM on January 31, 2010


However well-directed The Hurt Locker may be, it is a small-scale, conventional picture. In contrast, Cameron is the auteur of a colossal, boundary-smashing artistic achievement. Even if Avatar had never made a buck, it is still a stupendous movie unlike any ever made. If Cameron does not win the best director Oscar for his magnum opus, it will be an injustice.
posted by rdone at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Avatar wins, I'll have good reason to ignore anything ever said about the academy awards ever again (The Gladiator winning already put me half way there).

Great technical achievement does not a great movie make (I felt like I was watching a really long episode of GIJoe or Thundercats with really awesome animation).
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 8:22 AM on January 31, 2010


What am I saying ... does anyone look at the academy awards as a measure of a great movie?
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2010


This is a pretty sorry year for nominees, director and picture alike. Compared to the top pics for 2007, 2009's movies seem inconsequential.

I'm a pretty big film snob, too, but I think all the negativity directed at Gladiator is overblown. It's a fine movie and its competition wasn't head and shoulders above it or anything.
posted by mpbx at 8:33 AM on January 31, 2010


I read this is as female dictators. Now that would be an interesting glass ceiling.
posted by milestogo at 9:00 AM on January 31, 2010


...and then we have this news this morning.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:11 AM on January 31, 2010


Let's not forget that Peter Jackson replaced Lynne Ramsay in the director's chair for Lovely Bones. That should have been the film to get made and not the clumsy ham-fisted one we got instead.
posted by cazoo at 10:25 AM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


colossal, boundary-smashing artistic achievement

Long, overhyped mainstream sci-fi action flick, you mean.
posted by mediareport at 10:42 AM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Long, overhyped mainstream sci-fi action flick, you mean.

Have You actually seen the film, mediareport? I was equally snobbish toward it. And then I saw it.
posted by rdone at 11:01 AM on January 31, 2010


Avatar minus the visual effects was a really REALLY sub par movie, and best picture should not be an award given for visual effects. Not only was Avatar not a great film, almost every movie I saw last year was better than Avatar. (adds Hurt Locker to netflix queue so I can actually comment on topic)
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:40 AM on January 31, 2010


As the DGA membership is essentially the body of voters who will be voting for the Best Direct Oscar, she's a virtual shoo-in to win.

(And she has aged far better than her ex...you'd never guess her age.)
posted by inturnaround at 11:44 AM on January 31, 2010


dumbland: A common sentiment seems to be that Cameron can write good stories

For those who have not seen Avatar (and don't worry; I'm not telling you anything that would "ruin" the movie for you):

The planet's name is... Pandora.

The precious metal that the humans have come to obtain is called... Unobtanium.

They can only do this by (wait for it)... destroying the NaVi's home.

The Marine chosen to infiltrate the Na'Vi (the indigenous species of Pandora) is named... Sully.



... I'm sorry, should I continue?
posted by tzikeh at 11:58 AM on January 31, 2010


I completely agree wih rdone; the award for 'best movie' is the Best Film award, and a case can certainly be made that Avatar is not the Best Film (as wondrous as it was, I could say that I probably enjoyed animated movies "Up" and "Cloudy wih a Chance of Meatballs" more as stories, as two CG movies that pop into my head).

But saying that Cameron should not win Best Director is insanity. It's safe to say that the number of directors who could have made Avatar is a very short list. Possibly a list of one. And in that sense Directing is very much a technical award, to acknowledge the craftsmanship of helming a movie, bringing its vision faithfully to life. Bigelow pointed cameras at actors, just like directors do thousands of times every year for eveything from porn and skinemax softcore to Lifetime movies and sitcoms to indie films and major Hollywood releases. You personally may have enjoyed Hurt Locker more, or other films of 2009, because the story, the dialogue, the acting, or the dialogue meant more to you. And a skillful director can bring that story to life in a way that takes true skill and talent and driving vision.

But what Cameron did was in a totally different league, an epic, complicated undertaking that required inventing new techniques as well as holding together a truly massive enterprise. You can be the President of the local PTA, or the President of the United States, but let's not pretend that just because you dislike the output of one more than the other that the POTUS isn't unquestionably a harder and more complicated job.

Successfully creating Avatar is the best Directing job of 2009. It wasn't the Best Screenplay, didn't have the Best Actors, wasn't really the Best Film, but creating that world so seamlessly and richly was without a doubt the Best Directing anyone has done in quite some time.
posted by hincandenza at 12:20 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, she'll just lose to Avatar.

That was the accepted wisdom up until the DGA Award, which basically means she has the Director's Oscar in her hand.

The Producers Guild (the freakin' producers, who must be more concerned with money than any other Hollywood group) also gave the top award to The Hurt Locker. A film that's taken $16million worldwide. Another indicator that Best Picture isn't a sure thing for Avatar.

Which leaves the biggest body of Academy voters - the actors. They are the unknown. We could assume they'd be anti-CGI, since they probably don't want to be replaced - and yet the Avatar technique pretty much keeps the actor on screen. So it comes down to whether the actors have seen both films - and whether they like pretty blue aliens over a bleak film about the drug of war. Damn actors.

I think the ten nominees in the Best Picture category will also be a contributing factor, since the field is pretty wide open that there doesn't seem to be a foregone conclusion.
posted by crossoverman at 12:29 PM on January 31, 2010


Bigelow pointed cameras at actors, just like directors do thousands of times every year for eveything from porn and skinemax softcore to Lifetime movies and sitcoms to indie films and major Hollywood releases.

Wow, way to reduce the craft of directing down to something anyone can do with a handicam. Your ridiculous hardon for Cameron is showing.

I'm not saying Cameron's film wasn't an impressive achievement. I'm not even sure I'd be personally upset if Cameron takes the award over Bigelow, even though I found The Hurt Locker to be the far, far better film. (That's the Director Oscar, to be clear. Hurt Locker should take Best Picture or then I'll be upset!)

But to suggest that Cameron's achievement renders every other director's work meaningless is absurd.
posted by crossoverman at 12:34 PM on January 31, 2010


Not meaningless, just at a wholly different scale.

Also, "hardon for Cameron is showing"? What kind of douchebag talks like that? It's not like that was my 50th jizzing Apple fanboi comment in the iPad thread, it was my first post in this thread. My opinion is that Avatar is a much greater achievement, because it was to a scale and complexity that few directors would or could even attempt.

I don't see how your disagreement wih that somehow makes me some hardon wielding fanatic.
posted by hincandenza at 12:51 PM on January 31, 2010


I was equally snobbish toward it. And then I saw it.

I was actually quite hopeful about it. And then I saw it. That's how I know it's badly written schlock sci-fi with some great-looking scenery and a truly impressive pre-release hype campaign.
posted by mediareport at 1:53 PM on January 31, 2010


Have You actually seen the film, mediareport? I was equally snobbish toward it. And then I saw it.
I've seen it, and "long, overhyped mainstream sci-fi action flick," isn't really a bad description. I mean, sure, it was pretty, and it deserves a lot of technical and design awards. As far as the acting, dialogue, story and themes go, though, it was nothing we haven't seen a hundred times before. It had nothing going for it but eye candy.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:56 PM on January 31, 2010


My opinion is that Avatar is a much greater achievement, because it was to a scale and complexity that few directors would or could even attempt.

And you argued this by basically obliterating the art of film direction. Bravo.
posted by crossoverman at 2:18 PM on January 31, 2010


"Frankly, I thought Kathryn was gonna get this," James Cameron said of fellow nominee (and his ex-wife) Kathryn Bigelow as he picked up his Golden Globe for Best Director for Avatar a week ago. "And she richly deserves it."

Yeah, but see that ruins Teh Funny so I ignored it.
posted by Justinian at 2:58 PM on January 31, 2010


The idea that it's "insanity" to value elements of directing at least as much, if not more than, the ability to manage a blockbuster is what's insanity.
posted by mediareport at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2010


...to value other elements of directing
posted by mediareport at 3:33 PM on January 31, 2010


I thought Avatar is going to be terrible because I generally dislike Cameron, but I was pleasantly surprised. None of the shortcomings were glaring, although it's obviously not a perfect work. I think it's a bit crazy to say that it's just an eye candy movie. There are some pretty powerful scenes there, the kind you can't imagine in a harry potter or a star wars movie. For example (SPOILERS?!), the light beer and blue jeans, how does it feel to betray your race, but there were more than a few of them. The weakest part was, I would say, the music. Too Enya.
posted by rainy at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2010


Err, I guess I should add that it does deserve to win Oscars because I think Oscars are sort of for a *large* world-creating type of movies, because it'd just be too difficult to compare other types of movies with each other. I don't care much either way about the rewards, but it makes some sense to have a competition of this types of movies with wide appeal where the one that's more intelligent and well crafted would win. Gladiator was that kind of movie, too, except that it wasn't intelligent or well made, (except for few short scenes), so I thought back then CTHD was a clear winner.
posted by rainy at 3:53 PM on January 31, 2010


The idea that it's "insanity" to value elements of directing at least as much, if not more than, the ability to manage a blockbuster is what's insanity.
posted by mediareport at 10:31 AM on February 1 [+] [!]


...to value other elements of directing
posted by mediareport at 10:33 AM on February 1 [+] [!]


Yeah, I still don't get what that sentence means.
posted by crossoverman at 4:28 PM on January 31, 2010


hincandenza, you certainly have grasped the point I was trying to make: that Cameron managed to devise and apply the director's craft in a way that had never been done before, to wrestle with the birth of a new technological approach to film making. He did not round up ten foot tall "vaguely feline looking" blue actors to film: like Pygmalion (and George Lucas), he created them from his imagination, gave them form, gave them a language to speak. He did not travel to Jordan to film Pandora: the planet, too, was born in the director's eye. Add to that the need to manage a troupe of live actors--and then to integrate them with the children of his imagination: a directorial tour de force, I'd say.

It is easy to cavil about calling the planet "Pandora" (although I'm not sure why it's such a big dea; the Na'vi didn't call it that.l) "Unobtanium" was mentioned once in the picture: a wry hat tip to Campbell, Heinlein, Asimov, et al., but really a McGuffin anyway. The film is not an overhyped scifi space opera, but rather a morality play about the evils of colonialism and heedless resource exploitation. Jake Sully is yet another avatar of The Hero With A Thousand Faces; his quest is brilliantly conceived and executed by Cameron.

No one has to like morality plays, but the genre has had a long run on the stages and screens of the world. But Cameron's film is not just "pretty;" it is pretty amazing that he, as director, pulled it all together--and allowed us to suspend disbelief and run through the trees with the Na'vi. And that's why, IMHO,--whether he wins or not--he deserves an Oscar for his directorial masterwork.
posted by rdone at 6:51 PM on January 31, 2010


Yeah, I still don't get what that sentence means.

Sorry 'bout that. I mean this: "Orchestrating a massive blockbuster" is just one directing skill among many. hincandenza said it would be insanity to suggest any director could have matched Cameron's blockbuster managing skills last year. I think he's prioritizing that one skill above all other directing skills, and that strikes me as insanity. It's not even the most interesting directing skill, in my opinion - I prefer directors who can identify and work around tired cliches when they see them, for instance.

And this:

Cameron managed to devise and apply the director's craft in a way that had never been done before

is just baffling to me. The whole "boundary-smashing" thing seems hilariously overblown in Avatar's case. I'll stop by politely asking for more specifics from the crowd who claim "Avatar broke astonishing new ground in directing and movie-making in a way that had never been done before." What exactly was so shockingly new in how Cameron envisioned his new world? Inventing new technologies to handle tougher CGI demands and make a director's vision come alive has been normal practice for years now. It just seems like ridiculous hype that wasn't visible on screen in any boundary-smashing way at all. But I'm curious, so maybe someone who knows more about what boundaries were smashed can help me understand.
posted by mediareport at 7:56 PM on January 31, 2010


Inventing new technologies to handle tougher CGI demands and make a director's vision come alive has been normal practice for years now.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., famously said: "A man cannot be argued into liking a glass of beer." If you think Cameron's vision for Avatar was merely "normal practice", there is no further point in dialogue.
posted by rdone at 8:57 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, that's convenient. Again, I'm politely asking you to explain to me what was so "boundary-smashing" about what he did. I'm honestly curious what you see there.
posted by mediareport at 8:59 PM on January 31, 2010


I think he's prioritizing that one skill above all other directing skills, and that strikes me as insanity.

Thanks for the clarification. I completely agree.

But I'm curious, so maybe someone who knows more about what boundaries were smashed can help me understand.

I'm not sure I know any better than you - and I actually liked the film! That said, the accomplishments were really all behind-the-scenes. The motion capture is different to previous motion capture techniques. The CGI is more photo-realistic than has ever been seen before. And as impressive as behind-the-scenes boundary-smashing is, if it doesn't heighten the experience, I wonder what the point is!

The reason I like it is because it wears its conservation subtext on its sleeve and it's much more critical of the invading force than most films are. But even that's a small accomplishment, since so many of the characters are two dimensional. (For me, personally, the CG effects themselves are impressive - but the 3D effect was more distracting than anything. If only the characters had matched up to the technology.)

That said, I'm sort of annoyed but in no way surprised that this post has been hijacked by the pro-Cameron crowd. It's unfortunate that he's Bigelow's ex-husband, no matter how much he supports her - because in the end she has to battle that baggage as well as anything Hollywood throws at female directors.

You know, and people who think Cameron has changed filmmaking so fundamentally that nothing can possibly be compared to it. Since everyone else just pointed cameras at actors and then ran away.
posted by crossoverman at 9:06 PM on January 31, 2010


If you think Cameron's vision for Avatar was merely "normal practice", there is no further point in dialogue.

Okay, so give him the Best Special Effects Oscar that he's already guaranteed anyway. But don't throw him the Best Director Oscar just because the FX match up with his vision - I sure hope it does, since he spent 15 years working on the technology!
posted by crossoverman at 9:08 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked Avatar as well, but I still feel it suffers a bit in plot, dialog, and acting direction. I've not seen Hurt Locker yet, but I probably check it out sometime in the near future. I really don't care who the academy awards it to because I realized it was just a big publicity stunt anyway.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:27 PM on January 31, 2010


Am I the only one who thought Hurt Locker was weak? I like Bigelow plenty (I agree with Senor Cardgage on Near Dark and Strange Days) but I thought this particular movie wasn't her best.

("Hey, Bleeding Heart Liberal Military Head Shrink, you don't know what it's like out there in the big bad field, because you just sit here, in your ivory tower. You'd never make it a day in my shoes. Oh? What's that? You're over there treating Iraqi civilians as if they might actually be people? How's that working out for y— BOOM! Told you." Gimme a fuckin' break.)

Or are we still complaining about Avatar ... again?
posted by Amanojaku at 12:44 PM on February 1, 2010


More like complaining about people who crash the conversation about a completely different movie to say, "I'm sorry, but James Cameron had one of the best movies of all time!"
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:44 PM on February 1, 2010


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