Kathryn Bigelow did not win the Best Female Director Oscar. Neither did she win the Best Film By A Woman Oscar. What the 58-year-old American filmmaker did win were the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Film for her movie, The Hurt Locker. This is the first time that a woman has won these awards. She broke the gender barrier not through any mode of ‘affirmative action’ from a feminist jury but by sheer gender-neutral filmmaking talent.
Even the subject of The Hurt Locker can be seen in some patronising or downright narrowminded circles as being ‘male’: the raw depiction of a United States Army explosive ordnance disposal team in the Iraq war. But Ms Bigelow is an old hand in genres traditionally associated with ‘the boys’, having been firmly behind the camera while making films like the 1987 horror flick Near Dark and the action movie Point Break.
Ms Bigelow’s win brings us to a larger point about Oscar categories. With 82 Academy Awards ceremonies down the years, perhaps it’s time to consider having one Best Actor award and one Best Supporting Actor award — rather than splitting them along ‘male’ and’ ‘female’ lines. After all, if Ms Bigelow’s ex-husband can have talent enough to have won a Best Film Oscar in the past (for Titanic), surely nominated male actors will be happy to take up the challenge from their female counterparts?