82nd Oscars - Best Director

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rolotomasi99
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Postby rolotomasi99 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:36 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I don't think it's a double standard to expect more from a woman. Matter of fact, I would consider it a compliment.

:p :p :p

Hahahahaha! *throws up hands in frustration*

OscarGuy has said he is done with this conversation, but if he is still lurking around I just have to point out how ridiculous this is. The definition of sexism is treating someone differently because of their gender. OscarGuy seems to think because he holds women to a higher standard than men that he is not being sexist (and seems to somehow not realize this is the very definition of a double standard).

It is no different than saying all Africans are athletic and all Asians are smart. Just because you hold people to higher standards because of their race does not make you any less racist. The same rules apply to gender.

OscarGuy seems unreachable on this, but the only thing that bothers me is he keeps thinking it has to do with us disagreeing with him on the quality of the movie. It goes back to the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN vs CRASH debate. If someone thought CRASH was a superior movie than BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, I would heartily disagree. However, I take great umbrage with anyone who says BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is an inferior film simply because it is gay (and would feel the same about anyone who might say it is a superior film because it is gay). Judge the films on their cinematic quality, not the politics behind it.

If OscarGuy felt Bigelow's directing style is too plain to win an Oscar, fine! We may disagree, but at least I get why you like Tarantino and Cameron who have a far more flamboyant directing style (though I would say Reitman's directing is more plain than Bigelow's). However, saying her directing is inferior because it is not feminine enough is just ridiculous.

Like anonymous pointed out, while I am certainly proud of Ang Lee for being the first director of non-European descent to win an Oscar, I certainly do not think that is why he deserved to win. Despite his very plain style of directing, he truly did the best job at directing that year. I am not sure if he met OscarGuy's high standard for Asian directors or if OscarGuy felt Lee copied too much the style of the many European directors who won before him; but I am confident Lee won because of the quality of his work, not the history he would be making.

I wish OscarGuy could look past all the folks that made this about Bigelow's gender. I too was annoyed with Babs reading the winner, with all the Oscar coverage of Bigelow's gender and her status as Cameron's ex-wife, and with Cameron going on about how "important" Bigelow's win would be (a mean, underhanded way to take away from her victory). However, when Bigelow's film wins 6 Oscars (including Best Picture) and its nearest competition only wins three Oscars in non-major categories, I think it is quite disengenuous to insist any sizable number of voters chose to honor her because of her gender.

Again, it surprises me to see OscarGuy pushing this theory against Bigelow. I guess, ironically, I expected more from him.
"When it comes to the subject of torture, I trust a woman who was married to James Cameron for three years."
-- Amy Poehler in praise of Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow

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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:57 am

Good analysis, Anon.

Maybe I'm missing something, but why exactly are we having this discussion? Aren't we putting the cart before the horse?

Best Director goes with Best Picture most of the time, not the other way around. Had Bigelow won and another film won Best Picture there might be some reason to believe that she won because she was a woman, but she won because her film was deemed to be the year's best by the preponderance of critics and ultimately the Academy.

No other film directed by a woman has had that distinction. Bigelow thinks of herself as a director, not a female director. She probably thinks it tacky of the Academy to have given sometimes director Barbra Streisand the presentation honors. She would probably have liked it better if Steven Spielberg or last year's winner, Danny Boyle, or the Coen Brothers who were in attendance, had done the honors.

I'm sure she thinks it tacky that the orchestra played Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" as she left the stage, though that wasn't the tackiest song cue of the evening - that would have to be "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" played for Carey Mulligan's entrance.

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Postby anonymous1980 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:44 am

Great post below, Anon! :)

Oh and I'd like to point out that when Ang Lee won Best Director a few years ago, hardly anyone brought up the fact that he's the first Asian/non-white guy to win the Best Director Oscar. Just saying.

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Postby Anon » Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:18 pm

Hello everyone. It's been a really long time since I've posted commentary here (years, actually), but I do still lurk here, especially around Oscar season.

I must say, though, that I'm surprised there is discussion that Kathryn Bigelow doesn't bring any new perspective as a woman director to The Hurt Locker. To me, this movie feels like a "woman's movie" in many ways, despite all the masculinity and testosterone.

1. The main characters' conversations tend to center on babies and fatherhood (in many male-directed war movies, the talk is usually about sex - not the results of sex, like baby-making).

2. The intricate close-ups of Jeremy Renner's fingers when he's detonating bombs (it's the kind of slowed down "action" one wouldn't expect in a war movie, where the expectation is usually for lots of explosions - not the prevention of them).

3. In fact, it's very interesting, to me, how this movie achieves an "intimacy" about the Other "over there" - so we see Renner's relationship with the local boy, Beckham, or - the most intimate moment to me - when he invades a local home, where the man of the house tries to be civil and reasonable with him, while the woman of the house angrily curses at him and aggressively pushes him out of her house (it's the kind of female empowerment - where the local woman is often portrayed as "victim" who is invaded by the foreign soldiers - that a woman director can really capture and one that I don't think would have been filmed in a similar way by a male director.)

4. No obligatory nudity or sex scene or strip club scene of local sex workers - scenes that we might find in many male-directed movies about war for no other reason than that female bodies are often inserted into the story to further heighten the hyper-masculinity of the movie. We don't get such scenes, and I do think it's because, with a woman at the helm, she doesn't need female bodies and, by extension, female difference to enhance her story about soldiers in Iraq in this way. The female differences we do get (the local woman pushing Renner out of HER house, and Renner's wife trying to welcome him back into HER house) heighten the issues that a woman director would be concerned about: the impact of war on our personal lives and how the ravages of the battlefield intrude in the domestic sphere (both physically and psychically).

Those were just some key ways that I thought Bigelow's female gaze did shape this very masculine war movie. So, I wouldn't exactly dismiss this film or Bigelow as just essentially being a "transvestite director" or just "one of the boys."

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Postby dws1982 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:37 pm

I guess Oscar Guy would agree with Martha Nochimson who actually wrote an article about Bigelow where she essentially called Bigelow "The Transvestite of Directors", and took critics to task for praising Bigelow while dismissing Nancy Myers and Nora Ephron.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:27 pm

I'm done with this argument. It's quite obvious that no one can win when it's a contrary perspective. I'll let you have your Saint Bigelow because she's just like every other male director out there and I know that makes you guys happy.
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Postby Sabin » Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:01 pm

Even Penny Marshall whose films aren't exactly Best Picture quality is a better director than Bigelow simply because she can bring a new perspective to her film.

To be perfectly honest, I want to know which Penny Marshall films and which Kathryn Bigelow films you're talking about.

I don't like you continue to lump female directors together as one would compare Denzel Washington to Whoopi Goldberg, but one what planet does Penny Marshall bring more "new perspective" to film than Kathryn Bigelow?
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:41 pm

OscarGuy wrote:"...that Bigelow's win had nothing to do with her work."

That's counter to my argument.

What? How is this counter to your argument? This IS your argument. You used exactly those words.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:37 pm

Wow. You are too heavily defending The Hurt Locker that you question my statements and then say something like that?

"...that Bigelow's win had nothing to do with her work."

That's counter to my argument. The point was that there have been plenty of critically acclaimed films with noticeable direction (you're the one who brought that up in relation to The Hurt Locker, so don't criticize me for pointing it out). And I pointed to an excellent comparable example that didn't result in a win for the director which highlights my thesis that Bigelow's gender had more to do with her victory than her directorial achievement.

For, if another, male, director had taken on the film (and my argument is that she does nothing to distinguish the film from the many other war films that have come before it), that it would not have been the success that it was is still as valid an argument. Comparable talents yielding comparable results ended up with a win for one and not for the other.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:38 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Case in point: United 93.

By this logic, you could cite almost ANY film that was critically acclaimed and noticeably directed and not a blockbuster that didn't win Best Director as "evidence" that Bigelow's win had nothing to do with her work.

Which is, of course, ridiculous.

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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:21 pm

I haven't seen Blue Steel, but it's true that Strange Days had some very interesting elements (it's a very good movie by the way), and some of these elements were certainly due to the fact that a woman was behind it. It was, as far as I remember, an alternative view at some science-fiction cliches, and, not only for this reason but partly because of it, a box-office flop in the US. It didn't win any critics' awards either.

My problem with The Hurt Locker isn't that it's not a "feminist" or even feminine movie, just that more generally I didn't feel a strong director's point of view (except from the technical point of view, but you can find lots of American directors who can do that well) on an important subject like the one her movie deals with. And yes, especially from a woman, I can't deny that I expected something more personal, more original. The movie in itself isn't bad, but when it's treated as a masterpiece, it gets wonderful reviews and all kinds of prizes, I think I have the right to expect something more than what I ended up getting here.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:15 pm

So all those Academy members who openly stated that it was "time for a woman to win" had no ulterior motive? I still contend that had she been a man she wouldn't have probably not won. Case in point: United 93.

United 93 was incredibly well received critically. It was flashily directed. It was an of-the-times film that made a minimal amount of money at the box office. Paul Greengrass even managed a nomination for director (and had won a few precursors along the way). Hell, the film won several Best Picture prizes as well. Yet, he didn't have a prayer of winning the award. And considering how similar these films are in terms of what you cited, critical reception and general perception of great direction, it should have been a shoe-in for Best Director. But it wasn't.

So, I reject the idea that her being a woman didn't play a significant part in her being awarded.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:08 pm

OscarGuy wrote:The only reason she won for this film was because she's a woman. It has nothing to do with her work.

I find this statement horribly reductive.

I will accept a statement like "the fact that Bigelow was a woman was likely a factor in pushing her and her film over the top for victory." Fine. I would never argue that the chance to make history didn't sway some voters.

But the ONLY reason? Please. Whether you like it or not, the film was among the year's most acclaimed, if it wasn't THE most highly praised. And Bigelow swept the critics' director prizes for a film which was widely praised as a director's showcase. (Even people who aren't as wild about the film as I am, like Mister Tee, have acknowledged that the film's direction is at a level of visibility that understandably racked up recognition.)

It's fine for you to think that Bigelow's wasn't "the best directorial achievement of the year by any stretch of the imagination." But how that equates to "NOBODY thought it was the best directorial achievement of the year, and they just voted for her because she was a chick" is beyond me.

I think The Hurt Locker was easily the year's best directed film, and many other people with pretty reasonable credentials did as well. You don't have to like Hurt Locker, you don't have to think Bigelow is a worthy winner or even a good director. But I think you're WAY off in suggesting that a Director winner who picked up a trophy for a film with OUTSTANDING reviews that was pretty flashily directed did so for reasons that have NOTHING to do with her work.

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Postby Leeder » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:24 pm

This debate is not a new one. I'm no specialist in feminist film theory but I do know that Kathryn Bigelow has long been thought of as an interesting anomaly: a woman filmmaker who has worked in male-dominated genres. Can a feminine sensibility (whatever that might be...) survive in such a climate? There is a tendency to read Bigelow's work against the grain critiques of masculinity done from the inside. Blue Steel is a particularly good example of how this can be done, as well as Strange Days... in fact, a friend of mine is currently teaching a Gender Studies class in which Strange Days is being screened.

As for The Hurt Locker? My God, it has a scene where men literally bond by bunching each other in the stomach. A covert critique of the way masculinity operates in war could easily be found in the film. To say that to operate in a quote-unquote masculine genre is for a female director is to forsake (or betray?) her gender is positively ludicrous -- actually, there's a considerable advantage to being in such a position. Heck, even Jane Campion tried something similar with In the Cut, an interesting failure where The Hurt Locker is obvious a success.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:20 pm

The movie is pedestrian. There's no easier way to put that. Whether she's a woman or a man, it isn't the best directorial achievement of the year by any stretch of the imagination. How is that looking through her vagina? The only reason she won for this film was because she's a woman. It has nothing to do with her work.

And I do realize she was voted best of the five. And I would consider her fourth in the list of directors in this field. I think Tarantino, Reitman and even Cameron did far better jobs with their films than she did.

And, to be blunt, the only reason her being a woman even matters to me in this argument is because everyone else has made it about her being a woman. I don't think it's a double standard to expect more from a woman. Matter of fact, I would consider it a compliment. A strong woman with conviction should be able to achieve more than a man. I'm sorry if I have raised my expectations of powerful women too highly for you, but when I see a woman trying only to do what others expect of her and conform to an ideology designed by men and accepting it without desire to exceed that standard, then yes, I do have a problem with that.




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