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Bigelow's Oscar triumph on ladies' night

By Nicholas Glass

Updated on 08 March 2010

Nicholas Glass on how Kathryn Bigelow's triumph for The Hurt Locker came against the odds, on a night of disappointment for British hopefuls at the Academy Awards.

Kathryn Bigelow at the Oscars (Credit: Getty)

And so in the end, David slew Goliath. Six Oscars for The Hurt Locker, including best picture, best director, and original screenplay.

Three Oscars for Avatar, all in technical categories - visual effects, cinematograph and art direction.

Or as Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood and most cynical of Hollywood bloggers saw it, Academy voters rewarded a tiny film that made no money just because almost everyone in Hollywood really dislikes James Cameron.

Apparently the Academy approached Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow (the third of his ex-wives) to jointly present one of the awards - they politely declined.

The best picture category was widened this year to ten films so that more popular movies could be included. Academy voters opted to honour one of the least popular, a little movie about an American bomb disposal unit in Iraq.

The Hurt Locker has been a very slow burn. Every producer and distributor of note passed on it, and it was independently financed at $11m.

Shot almost three years ago in the heat of the Jordanian desert, it seems to have taken forever to get into the cinemas. Bigelow hadn't made a picture in seven years, after the commercial flop, K-19: the Widowmaker.

The simple truth is Iraq war pictures don't make money. The Hurt Locker opened in the States in June, and would've disappeared without trace, but for the critics. They just loved it. The Hurt Locker took about $15m at the American box office, a pittance compared to the $2.5bn Avatar has generated worldwide.

Already out on DVD, the Oscar triumph will help boost sales, but that's about it. 'The Hurt Locker', gritty and tense, has been little seen and is the lowest grossing movie in modern history to take the Oscar for best picture.

Oscar night belonged to the ladies. Bigelow, making history as the first woman to win an Oscar for direction, to Sandra Bullock for best actress in The Blind Side and for sassiest speech and to Mo'Nique for best supporting actress in 'Precious'.

Jeff Bridges, the sentimental favourite, took best actor for Crazy Heart. A conventional enough biopic, drunken country singer meets a good woman and finds redemption. The dude has made better movies.

Best supporting actor went, as it has throughout the awards season, to Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. All the acting awards had been predicted.

As for the Brits, well we didn't fair so well; but then we hadn't really expected to. We had a winner, Sandy Powell, for costume design for Young Victoria, her third Oscar after The Aviator and Shakespeare in Love.

The other Brits trod the red carpet, largely making up the numbers, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, Helen Mirren.

Nick Park must have been disappointed not to win a fifth Oscar for A Matter of Loaf and Death, the Academy have evidently tired of Wallace and Gromit.

Two middle aged guys; Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin presented the show. Nikki Finke was scathing, felt the whole thing dragged.

It is a pity that the Sasha Baron Cohen sketch was dropped, the one where he dressed up as a female Na'vi and accused James Cameron of impregnating her. Now Hollywood may just have loved that.

The 85-year-old, Lauren "Betty" Bacall got an honorary Oscar, although she was given it at a much smaller event in November.

The Oscars don't apparently have time to indulge legends any more. By the way, Betty twitters and has much to reflect on.

Scorcese is planning his Sinatra biopic and someone will have to play Bacall. She's been consulted. We await her thoughts about Oscar night.

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