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Pruit's Oscar Wrap Up (musea E-mail Club #503

Here is Musea’s annual Oscar wrap up from Melanie Pruit. (It is long so after the "intermission' click on the link for the rest.)

So history was made last night at the Oscars, not only with the selection of the first ever female winner for Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker), but also the first time an African-American has ever won one of the two Oscars for screenwriting—in this case, Geoffrey Fletcher, for adapting Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire). Furthermore, and just to be absolutely clear, The Hurt Locker is also the first Best Picture winner to be directed by a woman. Bieglow’s win in one category certainly did not portend success in another; after all, not every film that wins Best Picture wins Best Director. It was only a few years ago, for example, that Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, the presumed Best Picture frontrunner, but the big prize ultimately went to Crash. Likewise, Barbra Streisand (The Prince of Tides, 1991), Randa Haines (Children of a Lesser God, 1986), and Penny Marshall (Awakenings, 1990) are women who directed Best Picture nominees without the benefit of being nominated themselves, which makes it all the more interesting that Streisand herself was chosen to present Bigelow’s historic win. Now, even though I think The Hurt Locker is an amazingly well done movie, and even though I applaud the Academy’s choice, I’m still troubled by the fact that a woman had to direct a war movie in order to be given props by her peers in the Academy’s directors’ branch. I think that shows some kind of weird bias. Of course, skeptics and cynics will no doubt scoff about my misgivings and remind me, along with everyone else, that Bigelow won because she made the best possible film, and not because she was, and is, a woman. Of course, I understand that much, but I also understand that people who operate from positions of privilege, such as the presumably and predominately white, heterosexual males who comprise the Academy’s directors’ division, no doubt carry around certain cultural or social biases that affect the way they look at a film, and the way they vote for Oscars. Well, that’s my two cents. That noted, Bigelow has always, always, been an incredible visual stylist whose films have long favored a kind of macho sensibility (per high octane surf dudes as bank robbers epic Point Break) over the potent female sexuality of , say, Jane Campion’s The Piano. Maybe with Bigelow’s victory, the doors will be open for more diverse entertainments at Oscar’s table—but not so fast. After all, it’s been 9 years since Halle Berry broke decades of indifference to African-American leading actresses and took home the Oscar for Best Actress…but what has really changed in the film world since then? I mean, Gabourey Sidibe, the amazing newcomer at the center of Precious is still the first African-American actress nominated as a lead actress since Berry’s historic win. (Nine years!!!) It’s not the fault of the Academy, per se, that Hollywood as a whole still doesn’t know how to make thoughtful, successful movies driven by African-American women, Atlanta-based Tyler Perry notwithstanding. And, yes, it’s also time for more African-American filmmakers to be recognized as well.

Now, in my Oscar Dossier I certainly indicated...

INTERMISSION
for the rest click on this:

http://wp.me/p5S9X-cb


Tom Hendricks
(editor of the 17 year old zine Musea)

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