No Oscar nomination for Kathryn Bigelow

10 January 2013

The Academy released its Oscar nominations this morning, and they did not include a nomination for Kathryn Bigelow’s directing of the film Zero Dark Thirty, which stars Jessica Chastain.

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Bigelow and the film have already won big in other competitions. The film has won 6 Best Film prizes, and Bigelow has won 4 Best Director awards. This outpaces Steven Spielberg’s achievements thus far for Lincoln, which has received two Best Film prizes and zero Best Director prizes. All three times these two directors went head to head in a competition — the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, the Satellite Awards, and the Washington, DC Film Critics Association Awards — Bigelow won.

Let me ask the obvious: why does the Academy select up to ten films for its Best Picture category (including Zero Dark Thirty) but only five for Best Director? In the last several years the dividend between those two categories has inevitably seen female directors ignored. I liked The Life of Pi and Silver Linings Playbook a lot. But these films do not rise to the mastery of Bigelow’s work, nor to its cultural importance more broadly.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Academy Awards are the biggest, most visible prizes to be earned in film in the US. Too bad they reflect an old boys’ network looking out for their own.

14 Responses to “No Oscar nomination for Kathryn Bigelow”

  1. fitzg Says:

    Why don’t we boycott the Oscars – no watching Oscar’s night! Don’t we outnumber the other half of our species?

    • Didion Says:

      In my own case, the answer is because I am weak, and because I love watching that particular spectacle. My love of it is also related to the fact that I’ve loved attending Oscar watching parties for all these many years with my friends. It’s certainly not that I haven’t noticed before that the Academy Awards are retrograde.

      But this year, with that nasty, sexist Seth MacFarlane hosting and Bigelow overlooked … well, I’m with you. Blecchh.

      Oh, and be sure to read Melissa Silverstein’s refreshing rant on this topic.

  2. JustMeMike Says:

    Just because the nomination process is flawed should not mean that we skip watching the awards presentation. But that’s another topic altogether.

    As far as Bigelow being skipped over for Best Director – I saw that earlier this morning, and was stunned. I also am asking why they can go up to 10 nominees for Best Picture but only 5 everywhere else on the board.

    I suspect it may have something to do with the amount of broadcast time for the award ceremony – but I’m guessing of course.

    Like Didion mentioned about her own reasons, the Awards themselves are not why I watch the show. I like the film montages, the tributes, the fond farewells to those in the film industry who passed on.

    There’s also the glitter, the glamour, and all the hoopla including the red carpet broadcast. But at the end of the day, there’s no doubt that my life will not be changed if films I liked walk off with the Oscars or they do not… just as yesterday’s announced results of the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame disappointed me, but those results will not change my life either.

  3. fitzg Says:

    I was facetious – a besetting flaw. No doubt I will watch, too. In between breaks to make tea, feed the cat, go to the loo, and check e-mail…

  4. Sam Loy Says:

    Embarrassingly, I have to admit to having seen none of the BP nominees. After I finished hanging my head in shame, it didn’t take me long to notice how few of the nominees have female protagonists. From my count, Amour and Beasts… are the only ones where a girl/woman takes centre stage.
    In regards to Bigelow, do you think that it may be more political than gendered? Given that the CIA appears none too happy with her work?
    And finally, my big gripe – and completely not related to gender, I’m sorry – is that The Imposter, not only the best documentary I saw last year but also the best film, missed out on a nom. Unbelievable! I think you should run your own award ceremony where your readers can put in their picks and voting can go from there. The Feminemawards 2013!

    • Didion Says:

      Don’t think I haven’t considered the possibility of reader-centered prizes, Sam.

      I’m still behind on all the films, too — swamped by a busy semester, etc. Still haven’t seen Lincoln, Argo, Amour, Les Mis

      Don’t know about the Bigelow thing. It’s true that the controversy has erupted recently — and from both left and right wings. I’m hoping to see it today and make up my own mind. But it’s hard to imagine the Academy’s voting would have been affected so recently.

      I just bumped up The Imposter to the top of my list of DVDs to check out — looking forward to seeing something with such a rave!

      • Servetus Says:

        I think Lincoln is the only film of the nominees that I’ve seen — will be interested to hear what you think.

      • Didion Says:

        Oh the shame. Still haven’t seen that one. So behind.

      • Servetus Says:

        and you call yourself a historian.

      • Didion Says:


      • Servetus Says:

        I’ll be interested in what you say because (a) the stuff that appeared in the professional venues that was critical of the film was entirely predictable — if you had blindfolded me and put headphones on during the film, I still could have predicted what would be said about it and (b) it wasn’t what I think of as a typical Spielberg film — but the historians, perhaps not unsurprisingly, completely missed the main thing I thought was wrong with it as a viewer.

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