Looking for an Oscar first? Here’s one: Kathryn Bigelow, director of the much-praised and serious “The Hurt Locker,” could be in the running for best director against her ex-husband.
Bigelow was married from 1989-91 to “Avatar” director James Cameron.
Their movies could not be more different. “The Hurt Locker” is indeed a serious piece of work about soldiers in the war in Iraq. It’s got a terrific original screenplay by Mark Boal, whom Bigelow is said to be dating. It’s also got at least two Oscar-worthy lead performances by Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner.
“Avatar” is, on the other hand, a masterpiece of computer generation. It has a shopworn plot with extremely bad dialogue. (My favorite line comes from Sigourney Weaver, announcing about planet Pandora: “There’s something going on with the biology there.” Hilarious.) “Avatar” has no acting, as such, but gorgeous art, and the most realistic 3D ever. And blue people.
“The Hurt Locker” has made only $13 million and is about to be released on DVD. “Avatar” cost around $500 million, according to the New York Times, and should make about $100 million on its opening weekend just from curiosity.
One similarity: Many people in each movie get blown up. The difference is that “The Hurt Locker” characters are real, and their fates are dramatic. The explosions in “Avatar” are fake, fun and created by aliens.
Bigelow could very likely be nominated for all the important awards, from the Oscar to the DGA and the Golden Globe. Cameron could as well. The difference would be that Bigelow has a shot at winning. The Academy, while appreciative of the “Avatar” technology, may view Cameron’s achievements this time around as more technical than real. A viewer feels more about the characters in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — an animated movie — than “Avatar,” simply because the writing is so much better.
And here’s some interesting personal info on the two directors. Cameron has been married five times. Bigelow was married only once, to Cameron. Stunningly beautiful at age 58, she’s three years older than Cameron. Who knew?
So this should be interesting. Bigelow is generally thought to be in a top group of directors this year that includes Quentin Tarantino (”Inglourious Basterds”), Lee Daniels (”Precious”), Jason Reitman (”Up in the Air”), Clint Eastwood (”Invictus”), Rob Marshall (”Nine”) and my personal favorite, Wes Anderson, for “Mr. Fox.”
Where exactly that leaves Cameron is still to be determined. (Although the spectacle of seeing him hoist an Oscar over his head to declare “I’m the king of the world!” again is tantalizing.) The joke is that Academy Awards could turn into “Divorce Court,” except for one thing: The exes have remained good friends over the years.