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Shocking DGA Award win for 'The Hurt Locker's' Kathryn Bigelow

January 31, 2010 |  7:06 am

"The Hurt Locker" helmer Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman ever to win the top award from the Directors Guild of America. It was a major victory over James Cameron, Bigelow's ex-husband, whose "Avatar" recently became the highest-grossing film in world history.

By contrast, "The Hurt Locker," which cost $11 million to produce, has earned only $12 million in the U.S. ($16 million worldwide).

The hurt locker kathryn bigelow

Recently, Kathryn Bigelow also won the director's prize at the Critics Choice Awards and from the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. and the National Society of Film Critics.

The other DGA Award nominees were Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") and Lee Daniels ("Precious").

Over the last 61 years, only six DGA champs did not repeat on Oscar night:

1968 — Anthony Harvey, "The Lion in Winter" (DGA); Carol Reed, "Oliver!" (Oscar)

1972 — Francis Ford Coppola, "The Godfather" (DGA); Bob Fosse, "Cabaret" (Oscar)

1985 — Steven Spielberg, "The Color Purple" (DGA); Sydney Pollack, "Out of Africa" (Oscar)

1995 — Ron Howard, "Apollo 13" (DGA); Mel Gibson, "Braveheart" (Oscar)

2000 — Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (DGA); Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic" (Oscar)

2002 — Rob Marshall, "Chicago" (DGA); Roman Polanski, "The Pianist" (Oscar)

Forty-seven of the films that won the DGA prize went on to win best picture at the Academy Awards.

Here's a list of the winners over the previous 25 years. Note that Steven Spielberg ("The Color Purple") and Ron Howard ("Apollo 13") weren't nominated at the Oscars.

* = Victor did not win best director at the Oscars

1984 - Milos Forman, "Amadeus"
1985 - Steven Spielberg, "The Color Purple" *
1986 - Oliver Stone, "Platoon"
1987 - Bernardo Bertolucci, "The Last Emperor"
1988 - Barry Levinson, "Rain Man"

1989 - Oliver Stone, "Born on the Fourth of July"
1990 - Kevin Costner, "Dances With Wolves"
1991 - Jonathan Demme, "The Silence of the Lambs"
1992 - Clint Eastwood, "Unforgiven"
1993 - Steven Spielberg, "Schindler's List"
1994 - Robert Zemeckis, "Forrest Gump"
1995 - Ron Howard, "Apollo 13" *
1996 - Anthony Minghella, "The English Patient"
1997 - James Cameron, "Titanic"
1998 - Steven Spielberg, "Saving Private Ryan"
1999 - Sam Mendes, "American Beauty"
2000 - Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" *
2001 - Ron Howard, "A Beautiful Mind"
2002 - Rob Marshall, "Chicago" *
2003 - Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
2004 - Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"
2005 - Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
2006 - Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"
2007 - Ethan and Joel Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
2008 - Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"

Other DGA Award winners this year: "Mad Men" (drama series), "Modern Family" (comedy series), "The Cove" (documentary), "Obama Inauguration" (music/variety), "Build It Bigger" (reality TV), "Taking Chance" (TV movie).


Experts predict who will win the DGA award: 'Avatar's' James Cameron or 'The Hurt Locker's' Kathryn Bigelow?

Photo: Kathryn Bigelow. Credit: Summit

Note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Bigelow won the Golden Globe.

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The comments to this entry are closed.


Did Alec Baldwin REALLY smack Kathryn Bigelow in the ass after she won for best picture? WTF ALEC?

"The Hurt Locker" was BORING. There was NO suspense, I NEVER ONCE believed the main character would be blown-up or killed. And if he was I felt NO connection to him.

Having been in the military myself, I would have gone over his head and up the chain of command to have myself removed from working with Mr. GungHo.

Not to mention, this guy would have had to explain his actions to the commanding officer.

Will she (Ms. Bigelow) win the Oscar? Probably, but who really cares.
The Academy will feel good about giving the first woman director her Oscar, that's all they care about. Is she the best director? with the best movie? NOOOOO WAY!

Nothing shocking here folks...I told you so...Ms. Bigelow would be the winner. Now on to the Oscars we go..

Tom, the producers guild started this reversal of fortune for Avatar, and the directors simply followed in lockstep with them. Avatar is a victim of its own success, and both director and picture hopes were pretty much snuffed out Saturday night because of the enormous envy Hollywood has for Cameron. Whether we Avatar fans like it or not, the Academy will settle for less than the best. It wouldn't be the first time.

Take a moment and review all 2009 films and then tell me Hurt Locker was the best directed. No way. Hurt Locker was little more than shakey-cam and laughable combat scenes directed by a female. Getting a female the award is what this is all about.

Avatar, which is Navi for Dances with Smurfs, is actually the slap in the face to films directed competently, or is it just a slap in the face to all the geek boys out there that don't care about the real world and original storytelling...

For all of us in the real world, there's the very un-PC Hurt Locker. Bigelow kicks Cameron's ass on this shock to anyone who's paying attention.

A slap in the face to films directed competently. But, we just gotta be PC, don't we?

Its only shocking because Tom O'Neil declared avidly that James Cameron was going to win. Please, Avatar is nothing more than a retread of tired movie cliches dressed up in CGI clothing...BORING. Inglorious Basterds, Hurt Locker, Up In The Air, and Precious are all intelligent, well acted, interesting films.

And BTW, for the millionth time, its Dark Knight, not NIGHT - the morons (read fanboys) that fight for that and Avatar are always getting it wrong.

Don't you think the word "Shocking" in the headline is a bit over the top? "Surprising," maybe that this woman won the award, but "shocking,"? Hardly. Women have been doing amazing things in the last few decades - driving cars, running businesses, directing movies, and winning awards. Nothing shocking about this. A wonderful surprise, however.

Hold up! What? Shocking? I don't think so. Anyone could have seen Bigelow was going to win DGA. The only people who say it's shocking is people who are trying to create a horse race between the exes. Enough already. You're hurting your credibility. Bigelow's win was expected, especially after winning PGA and every award before it (sans Globes).

Actually, it was *seven* DGA winners out of 61 who didn't win Best Director. Since the DGA initially didn't use a calendar year, the first two DGA winners (Joseph Mankiewicz for "A Letter to Three Wives" & Robert Rossen for "All the King's Men") competed against each other at the Oscars; Mankiewicz won Best Director while "All the King's Men" won Best Picture. (Rossen actually won the DGA a few days after the Oscars--but so did Mankiewicz the following year for "All About Eve", which won both Best Director & Best Picture; the DGA has been awarded before the Oscars ever since.)

However, predicting Best Director 54 times out of 61 is still a major feat; that's why the DGA is so important, even if it's lost its touch a bit over the last decade. Bigelow's win is certainly a game-changer, even more so than her film's PGA win.

Personally, I think the Oscar race is now the "battle of the exes"--though ironically, the best analogy I can come up with for Bigelow is... Sam Worthington in "Avatar" (the ex-Marine who's now David to his former comrades' Goliath). We could see Bigelow win Best Director & "Avatar" Best Picture (IMO the best choice); or Cameron win Best Director & "The Hurt Locker" Best Picture; or either film take both. THL is probably better technically, but "Avatar" is the bigger spectacle (like "The Greatest Show on Earth", sometimes called "the worst Best Picture" but Cecil B. DeMille's only winner; folks today don't realize how much of a spectacle DeMille put on back in 1952--though its script was weak, just like "Avatar").

Why is this "shocking"? Good for her. Avatar, for all its digital innovation, is just a dime a dozen cheap hero story, completely forgettable except for the graphics. I would be astonished if any actors in Avatar won anything. the acting was forgettable. Sad to hear that Hurt Locker has done so poorly with the money. It is a powerful, important, unique story. What is shocking is how much the media holds up the same old same old as praiseworthy.

I'm co-signing with all those here who have reiterated that this win is not at all shocking and if anything, well deserved.

Never saw the hurt locker never will. Don't ever believe these awards shows that her locker movie deserved that award over say Avatar! The only thing that's huge right now is Avatar staying on top for the SEVENTH WEEK in a row and it didn't win one award just like what happened to The Dark Night. There is nothing bigger in the public's eye right now than the Movie Avatar and you don't need a tangible object to tell you that at an awards show just look at the box office. Nobody wants to see a movie that sucks! They want to see a blockbuster like The Dark Night or The Lord of The Rings, but The Hurt Locker LOL!!! Hey I saw Avatar and think it should win, but if it doesn't who cares it's already won and people who think Avatar shouldn't win are just Jealous that movies like the hurt locker couldn't do what Avatar could do. Lets face it seeing another movie about Iraq or another Nazi movie like Inglorious Bastards is down right depressing how boring can it get LMAO!

And exactly why is this shocking??? Bigelow's work is extraordinary. So, The Hurt Locker - already one of the great documents of the war in film history - only made a sliver of Avatar's box office. Do you believe, Mr. O'Neil, that it's therefore a lesser piece of work?

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you do not find Ms. Bigelow less qualified than her ex-husband, simply due to her gender. Sadly, that makes me think that you, Mr. O'Neil, only consider dollar signs, not artistry. I fear you also think The Rock is a finer actor than Jeremy Renner, because he's the bigger box office draw. Pitiful...

For all those not paying attention, it's schocking because Bigelow is the first woman to ever win the DGAs big prize. The DGAs are known for only awarding white males (see the list), so Bigelow and Daniels were important nominees this year, and this win a real glass ceiling breaker. So that's what they meant by shocking.

We finally just saw The Hurt Locker on dvd-it is pretty compelling even on the small screen. It deserves the DGA and maybe the Oscar for directing while Avatar should win all the technical awards and maybe best picture at the Oscars. It depends on if the directing award is for directing the actors or the whole movie. I think it makes sense for movies like Avatar and The Lord of the Rings to win best picture rather than best director when the movie is as much about special effects as about the acting (though even The Lord of the Rings involved more acting than Avatar). I loved Avatar but it is about the viewing experience more than the individual performances (which were fine). The Hurt Locker is more about the people.

How is this shocking? It's not like she came out of left field. She's been nominated and honored elsewhere.

I hope she wins the Oscar.

I think the Hurt Locker may have been one of the most boring, albeit "realistic", war movies I've ever seen. I don't think it was the best film of last year. But if her winning the oscar means that hack james cameron won't.....then by ALL means I hope she wins the Oscar.

Shocking to no one but you, pretty much.

First of all, Kathryn didn't win the Golden Globe. James Cameron did.
Second, Kathryn's win wasn't shocking at all. She was the clear front-runner.

And I think Kathryn will win the Oscar even if The Hurt Locker fails to win best picture.

If I remember correctly, I thought James Cameron was the winner for the "Best Director" Award at the Golden Globes. I think you made a mistake there...

It was James Cameron who won at the Golden Globes for Best Director.

Why is her award "shocking". Just because the movie was not a blockbuser does not mean she did not deserve the win. By the way, she did not win the Golden Globe, though she deserved that one too. If it is all about money, wher is Michael Bay?

'Shocking' because her ex-husband's hit movie cost 25X as much money to make? Pretty chauvanistic tone.




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