Oscars – The Mean-Spirited Reason I’m Rooting for Campion and Bigelow

I don’t really care about the Oscars, as you may have noticed. To me, they’re relatively pointless and never get it right anyway. But, there is a ray of hope, with this year’s Oscars. Kathryn Bigelow has won the DGA award, which makes her the front runner to win the Best Director award…

Which means, for once, maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to hear about how there are no female directors from the kind of people who can’t be bothered to actually go out and support female directors, but are perfectly happy to whine at length online or buy allegedly witty billboards about the topic every damn year.

This would be a victory for film discussion almost as sweet as the year Scorese finally won an Oscar. Not because the Academy had finally acknowledged Scorese with a de facto lifetime achievement award, although that was nice, especially since “The Departed” is pretty fun and Scorese obviously enjoyed the hell out of making it.

No, it was a victory because, finally, finally, that one asshole who always said “Oh, well I guess the Academy thinks [INSERT ANY WINNING DIRECTOR HERE] is a better director than Martin Scorese!” finally had to shut the fuck up. Seriously. We never, ever, EVER have to hear it again! Ever! Even about “Gangs of New York!”

And now, of course, comes Bigelow with her little movie that could.

I’m pulling for “The Hurt Locker” to win for a variety of honest reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it’s really freakin’ good. I don’t know if it’s the best movie of the year, but it’s certain ONE of the best movies of the year, and inarguably one of the best movies about Iraq.

But another part of it is all the people who whine about a lack of female directors would suddenly be faced with the fact that their winner is not somebody making a sensitive feminist classic because that’s what women should make, but a female filmmaker who actually followed her voice and did what she wanted to do. And it’s not something they like, being as it’s a big, burly movie about tough men slowly going insane in the desert. You’ll either see a lot of backpedalling or calls for Bigelow to now make her sensitive feminist classic.

OK, so that’s mean-spirited. I acknowledge that. But it’s a comeuppance that’s richly deserved, because I’m tired of female directors being trivialized. They can’t win. Either Hollywood shoves them in the rom-com pap box, or the indie world shoves them into the sensitive drama box. It’s infuriating, especially when a female director turns out something that isn’t some feminist parable of genuine merit and it’s promptly ignored because it’s not “female” enough. Bronwen Hughes turned out one of the best movies of the past decade, “Stander”, a heist movie/biopic/lingering consideration of the damage racism inflicts on society, not to mention a precursor of the nascent South African wave.

What’d she get for it? A decade in TV purgatory. She should be directing Bond movies.

Similarly, Jane Campion has been struggling to get anything off the ground since “In The Cut”, and all these sensitive feminist types have been all too happy to ignore the shit out of her because Campion doesn’t make easily digestible parables. Instead she makes genuinely complicated movies about genuinely complicated women that are if nothing else unlike anything you’ve seen, and she gets fucking ignored. These are the movies people claim to want, and what does Campion get? Rejected.

So, yeah, I’m pulling for Bigelow and Campion this Oscar season, because it’s a victory that shouldn’t have to be won, for women over people telling them what they have to be.

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