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From the Vaults: Kathryn Bigelow Soldiers On

'The Hurt Locker' Oscar-winner was robbed of a 'Zero Dark Thirty' nom

By Marjorie Baumgarten, 6:30PM, Fri. Jan. 11, 2013

Kathryn Bigelow on the set of 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Kathryn Bigelow on the set of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

It's all about the work and not the glory. Most self-respecting artists and critics even believe that, too. But, still, awards are nice, and sometimes even deserved.

Who can possibly forget three years ago when The Hurt Locker filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to ever receive a Best Director Oscar from the Academy voters?

This week when the Oscar nominations were announced, Kathryn Bigelow was shut out in the Best Director category (along with another filmmaker also considered a shoo-in: Ben Affleck) for her follow-up film, Zero Dark Thirty. Is it possible to draw meaning from this slight or is it just the luck of the draw? Surely there's some credibility to the argument that some voters were turned off by the controversies swirling in the news about the film's inclusion of scenes of torture and the CIA's possible disclosure of improper information to the screenwriter Mark Boal. Notably, however, this political minefield did not get in the way of the film's nomination in several other categories. Alternatively, can we interpret this to mean that the directors' branch of the Academy is an old boys' club comfortable enough with a token female honoree but not comfortable enough to have the glass ceiling permanently shattered?

We asked Bigelow about being one of a handful of A-list women directors in Hollywood when we interviewed her in March 2008 prior to her appearance at the South by Southwest Film Festival that year for the U.S. premiere of The Hurt Locker. "I just think there are storytellers," she replied, "and I don't think the telling of a story is gender-specific, unless it's reflexive." For the rest of that interview see "Every Step You Take." Our review of Zero Dark Thirty can be found in Film Listings.

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