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Kathryn Bigelow: If she wins the Oscar for directing, does that mean it's been a great year for women?

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nineImage Credit: David JamesA TV producer interviewed me on camera today for a pre-Oscar story he’s whipping up to run over the weekend. He was very excited. “I mean, Kathryn Bigelow!” he explained. “Meryl Streep! Sandra Bullock! A good year for women or what?!” I wasn’t sure what he was asking me. “You know” he elaborated, “like, on the one hand, I’ve read figures that say women make up only make a small percentage of Hollywood. But then, on the other hand, you know, like Nancy Meyers? Nora Ephron? Good, right? Is this a good sign for the future of women? Or something? Your thoughts?”

Um. I guess every media outlet is trying to fill the hours leading up to the Oscars on Sunday night, aren’t we? So I told the TV producer this: As a movie-lover, I hope Bigelow wins, because of, well, her great directing of The Hurt Locker.  As a woman (and thus, apparently, an oracle for the purposes of his little pre-Oscar feature) I’m aware of and excited about the significance of such a win, since she’d be, oh, the first woman ever to take the trophy in that category (and only the fourth ever nominated). But as a movie-lover, I’d like to think that if a man had directed The Hurt Locker as well as Bigelow did, then he would win the Oscar. I’d like to think that if Bigelow wins, the biggest benefit for women who want to make movies in Hollywood — a Hollywood run, as most of the world is run, by men — would be greater industry-wide recognition that talent comes in all sexes, colors, and sizes. A woman can make an action flick or a war movie; a man can make a feminine romance. All we want is to see stories that move us, excite us, entertain us, challenge us. Sometimes those movies are about alien blue people. More often, those movies are about people with whom we can identify, characters who look as young or old as we are. And as male or female, too.

See that divine bundle of Penelope Cruz, from Nine?  She’s delicious, she’s sexy,  she represents fantasy womanhood on what used to be called the silver screen. Long may she sparkle! But the success of Kathryn Bigelow represents real workplace progress, accomplishment, and the equal opportunity of talent rewarded. Women — and for that matter, humans of every gender — are invited to cheer. I’ll be on my couch on Sunday night, waving a hankie of hope.