Friday, December 18, 2009

The Frontrunner: The Hurt Locker

As more and more critics groups weigh in from across the country, and in the wake of nominations from the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild, it's becoming readily apparent that "The Hurt Locker" is becoming the frontrunner, the critics' darling, the one to beat.

Frankly, I'm thrilled. Not that I necessarily think it will win Best Picture (right now it's definitely moving into position to win Best Director), but the love for this film tells me one important thing: we're ready to talk about Iraq in film. As I said in my original Daily Gamecock review, The Hurt Locker is an important and necessary step forward for "Hollywood's Iraq" - the way we've been portraying the war and the soldiers in film up to now has been largely disgraceful. Flat, one-dimensional propaganda. Awful stuff. Now, regardless of whether it's "the best film of 2009" (I don't think it is), we have a (female) director making a serious(ly suspenseful) film about the people on the front lines. It's an arching and personal story of soldiers trying to do a job. It's thrilling, it's visceral, its construction is absolutely stunning.

But it takes the war and it focuses it down to an apolitical consideration of how people respond to these life-threatening situations. For that, it's an important film for the country, especially as we struggle with negotiating the troop surges/withdrawals in Afghanistan.

Plus, with a blizzard pelting Roanoke, it looks like I won't be seeing Avatar until early next week. Might I remind that an ex-Hollywood couple are both making war epics - one in Iraq and one on Pandora?

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