March 7, 2010

"Hurt Locker"

Good movie.

Still, giving it the "Best Picture" award is going to raise expectations a little too high among the many who have yet to see it. It's kind of like if an early Ramones album that had sold 10,000 copies had beaten out multi-platinum Stevie Wonder or Fleetwood Mac albums for a 1970s Grammy Award. "The Hurt Locker" is not exactly The Return of the King or The Departed in terms of satisfying a broad checklist of qualities that you would expect in a Best Picture. "The Hurt Locker" does a few things very well, but don't expect it to do more than that.

If The Big Lebowski had won Best Picture, would it seem as funny? Instead, it was considered a disappointment when it came out, and most people later stumbled upon it with low or no expectations. For people seeing it for the first time now, it has a hard time living up to the legend.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

49 comments:

Spy said...

So, "liberal" Hollywood promoted the "Support the Troops" film that extols how addictive war is (thereby reversing the meaning of the ostensibly anti-war quote it opens with). Does this mean that we're going to war with Iran?

jody said...

it was easily the least deserving winner of all time. it is now the least viewed best picture winner, and hell, it even lost money. imagine that. a best picture winner that lost money. this might be the first time ever. it cost 16 million and made 14 million.

for the last several months, the entire industry was lying continuously about bigelow, claiming she was an independent director. what a load of shit. she's done studio work before. here are the big budgets she has previously had, in millions of dollars:

k-19 100 35
strange days 42 7

see that second number? that's how much money the movie made. she LOST money on every movie she made except point break! she even lost money on near dark. it cost 5 million and it made 3 million.

those are some whopping losses. strange days lost 35 million dollars on a 42 million dollar budget!

the lies and pure bullshit about bigelow were no different than about any protected class person these days. they never talked about her other movies.

i knew the fix was in when it won for best editing. the hurt locker had actually had bad editing in some parts. not only did every nominee have better editing, at least 20 movies last year had better editing. how did it win best sound and sound editing? every blockbuster had better sound. transformers 2 was nothing great but it had better sound. star trek had better sound. LOL. WTF is the budget for a blockbuster for anyway? of course they had better sound and editing.

the whole show was bullshit stacked 10 feet high. the best was how tom hanks was like "the hurt locker won, bye, we're out of here" like a chinese fire drill. a mad rush to get the heck out of the building, quick. did not even announce the nominees, just the winner, boom, later.

jody said...

there's still not a person on earth who can explain how the hurt locker was even nominated for screenplay, let alone won. it was technically inaccurate continously in a movie designed to be like a documentary. and it has no plot! WTF man! every nominee had a better screenplay. the hurt locker script was exactly like a weak version of lethal weapon.

christopher nolan has never even been NOMINATED for best director, and bigelow has won. wrap your head around that. according to the academy, the hurt locker was VASTLY superior to memento and the dark knight. just so much better that it's not even close. what?

what if inception is absolutely awesome? are the douches at the academy going to shaft nolan again?

saving private ryan could not win best picture, but the hurt locker steamrolled everything. what? the hurt locker was better than saving private ryan? it was easily as good as platoon?

Anonymous said...

I agree. I liked Hurt Locker, but it wasn't really more than a stand out summer movie. But it may have been the best movie on the list. The quality of movies in general has come down so far. There hasn't been one best picture of the last decade to compare with the greats of yesteryear, such as "Out of Africa" or "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca".

OhioStater said...

Yeah, she was the first female director, and Cameron copied the plot from Pocahontas. Yeah yeah yeah.

The critics can also say they think 3-D glasses are silly and germy and common...yeah yeah yeah.

The real reason Hurt Locker won is they don't like Cameron, and they envy him. Full stop.

OneSTDV said...

I still don't get the Big Lebowski. Why the mystique?

Anonymous said...

The Big Lebowski DID win the Oscar.

Jeff Bridges was terrific in that movie and everyone in the Academy loved him in it. They wanted to give him the Oscar for years. This year Bridges starred in a movie in which he was good enough that they could get away with rewarding him for his prior work.

This is pretty much what happen with Bigelow too. The Hurt Locker was just good enough that they could recognize her for her better earlier films Near Dark and Point Break.

Hollywood likes to indulge in sentimentality - not such a bad thing I think.

Glossy said...

I thought it was funny when Charlize Theron, the most beautiful movie star of her generation, introduced Precious. Also, I had no idea that the guy from Avatar was Australian until he opened his mouth yesterday. Otherwise it was a pretty boring show.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Off-topic, but right up your alley: Phoenix homeowner owes $150,000 on a house worth only $48,000.

Wonder if he belongs to a vibrant or a static population? Wonder if he' even here legally? It matters, because besides the loan the bank (or taxpayers) are taking a $100,000 hit on, the government - our government, courtesy of Mmm Mmm Mmm Barack Hussein Obama - is going to pay the owner $1,500 in relocation assistance.

Thrasymachus said...

I could see Best Actor, for Jeremy Renner, or Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow a little better than I could see Best Picture but it was still excellent. And the point is it was better than the competition. I'm just glad it wasn't "Avatar."

Anonymous said...

The Big Lebowski has something better than an award--it will live in history.


Spike Lee has pointed out with some bitterness that while Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture the year he released Do The Right Thing, it his movie that is taught at film schools considered important, still discussed, etc.


The Big Lebowski is one of the seminal films of the 90s.

A friend of mine recently asked what contemporary movie stars and films would endure like Cary Grant or Charlie Chaplin or Casablanca.
He's skeptical that we have anything that will endure.

Personally, I think this is a great time for the medium, with a lot of (artistically) successful movies made in an incredible wide range of styles. We may not have the "classics" of a time when relatively few movies were produced in a stifling studio system, but we have an embarrassment of riches. I don't know anyone who can even keep up with all of the good movies being made, especially since plenty of them never get serious releases.

Nonetheless, it's interesting to realize we can already "look back" at the 90s (in the age of twitter, is 15 years ancient history?). In 50 years, people will be watching The Big Lebowski, Memento, Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights, Being John Malkovich, and Fight Club. I'm not saying these movies were obscure or not lauded, but it is interesting that it already seems clear that the recent award winners are not the best pictures.

Dances with Wolves, Braveheart, Unforgiven, The English Patient, Titanic, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love...I like some of these movies more than others, but the historical impact of those films can be summed up with one question: who cares?


Spielberg is unique in this discussion. I think he's a shallow, sentimental hack, but his biggest and best movies (e.g. Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List) may go down as exemplars of Big Hollywood Films About Big Important Subjects. I am ambivalent about this.


I also think Wes Anderson is a debatable representative of the "other side." People who don't dig his aesthetic (e.g. Steve and most of his readers) may view him as trendy, hipster fluff that will quietly disappear. I disagree, but I'm not willing to argue that history will absolve him (or me).

Ray Sawhill said...

I took "Hurt Locker" as a genre-suspense B movie (in a reality-cam style), and had a great time at it. But I think you're right: most will go to it expecting an A movie and be surprised and dismayed that it isn't overstuffed in the usual mainstream way.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad that Avatar didn't win. That movie was ridiculously overrated.

Svigor said...

The Big Lebowski sucked. Maybe that's because I only saw it a few months ago and it had all this cult status, but I enjoyed about 5 minutes of that movie. I think I would've thought it sucked if I'd seen it before the buzz; it just sucked that hard.

Svigor said...

I like The Departed a lot. The best part to me was all the crypsis.

MWT said...

But, the Ramones WERE better than Stevie Wonder and Fleetwood Mac!

You should write a piece on Johnny Ramone - one of the very few conservative punk rockers. He claimed he was a "Nixon man." Joey, on the other hand, was a liberal Jew. Dee Dee was bat-s&^T crazy in an endearing sort of way... Interesting band.

Henry Canaday said...

“The unexploded bomb detachments presented themselves wherever I went on my tours. Somehow or other their faces seemed different from those of ordinary men, however brave and faithful. They were gaunt, they were haggard, their faces had a bluish look, with bright gleaming eyes and exceptional compression of the lips; withal a perfect demeanor. In writing about our hard times we are apt to overuse the word 'grim.' It should have been reserved for the U.X.B. bomb disposal squads.

“One squad I remember which may be taken as a symbol of many others. It consisted of three people – the Earl of Suffolk, his lady private secretary, and his rather aged chauffeur. They called themselves 'the Holy Trinity.' Their prowess and continued existence got around among all who knew. Thirty-four unexploded bombs did they tackle with urbane and smiling efficiency. But the thirty-fifth claimed its forfeit. Up went the Earl of Suffolk in his Holy Trinity. But we may be sure that, as for Mr. Valiant-for- Truth, “all the trumpets sounded for them on the other side.”

- Churchill, “Their Finest Hour”

TR said...

It's kind of like if an early Ramones album had beat out Stevie Wonder or Fleetwood Mac for a 1970s Grammy Award for Best Album.

But what movie is Stevie Wonder or Fleetwood Mac in this analogy? IB? Avatar? I don't think any of the movies nominated were of that caliber, but of the bunch, The Hurt Locker was the best.

Billare said...

A Serious Man should have won, if the world was fair. Not only is the acting impeccable and the dark comedy hilarious, I actually think the movie offers an incredible commentary on the deep questions of religion and God and the travails he sends to those who believe. Funny that, as I usually hate critics who over analyze movies.

Anonymous said...

Other recent winners of "Best Picture": Crash, The English Patient, Chicago, Forrest Gump, A Beautiful Mind - I mean, get real. Do any of these look like masterpieces to you? This award does not equal quality.

At least THL is better than all those turkeys, though I think it would have been better if they just granted it an award for its direction - that's what made it involving, not the mediocre story.

Anonymous said...

"But it [The Hurt Locker] may have been the best movie on the list."

C'mon, District 9 was by far the best, but I don't suppose they'd ever give best picture to a thinly disgused parable about the perils of unskilled, 3rd world immigration done by an Afrikaaner.

Anonymous said...

In 50 years, people will be watching The Big Lebowski, Memento, Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights, Being John Malkovich, and Fight Club.

Jesus Christ, that's a depressing thought.

In fact, learning what the HBD crowd likes to watch at the movies and listen to in the way of music [Carolyn is married and in her forties and she goes out to a gym and listens to Lady Gaga?!?] - learning the reality of this is really deeply depressing.

And more than a little disturbing - if the cynics at iSteve are incapable of realizing that Pop Culture is Filth, then who does that leave?

Anonymous said...

"it was easily the least deserving winner of all time. it is now the least viewed best picture winner, and hell, it even lost money. imagine that. a best picture winner that lost money. this might be the first time ever. it cost 16 million and made 14 million."

So it was worse than million dollar baby and slumdog millionare? I haven't seen the Hurt Locker yet, but I find that kinda hard to believe.

There have been plenty of straight up bad films that have won "Best Picture" over the years.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, District 9 was by far the best, but I don't suppose they'd ever give best picture to a thinly disgused parable about the perils of unskilled, 3rd world immigration done by an Afrikaaner.

Late last night [really in the wee hours of the morning today], I woke up on the couch and saw that USA Network was showing No Country for Old Men, and, after watching it, I fired off a post making the same point about a "thinly disgused parable about the perils of unskilled, 3rd world immigration" as regarded NCFOM.

But I think maybe my language must have been too intemperate, and it looks like my post didn't make it past Komment Kontrol.

hummster said...

There hasn't been one best picture of the last decade to compare with the greats of yesteryear, such as "Out of Africa" or "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca".


Out of Africa? Are you out of your mind?

Hulabula said...

Monique's acceptance speech was pricelessly in keeping with black nature. Self-centered, self-righteous, aggressive, and childish.
Hattie McDaniel lived through injustices to be sure, but what chance does this country have with the likes of Monique running things? She doesn't want equality. She wants to push her weight around.

There is this white notion that fat black people are nicer and jollier. NOT TRUE!

ursohghife said...

it was easily the least deserving winner of all time. it is now the least viewed best picture winner, and hell, it even lost money. imagine that. a best picture winner that lost money. this might be the first time ever. it cost 16 million and made 14 million.

Look, the Oscars are shit. But, if the point is choosing the BEST FILM, how much money it made or how many people saw it shouldn't be the issue.

I suspect it won because a woman made it, and the Oscars like to wrap their ceremony around some theme. Remember when both Halle and Denzel won? That was supposed to be BLACK NIGHT.

Good thing about Bigelow is she prefers to be admired as an artist than be favored for her genitalia.

josh said...

A)jody,enjoyed your posts.B)Agree w/others that Serious Man & District 9 both more deserving-from what I have gathered. The scene they showed at the Oscars of 'Serious' where the "hero" is underneath a sweet young thing caught our attention. C)In a clip for HurtLocker they show a tough black NCO clobber a white guy and tell him some thing about never looking away from the bomb,or something. Now,didnt Steve have a blog entry about some type of training along these lines where the minorities,and dear ladies,didnt do so well,so they dropped it? Point:was the NCO black in real life? Or did she PC it up a bit? Not to get all Chris Rock on ya,but is a bomb disposal unit where you want to put a tough,take no prisones black guy?? Just asking. D)The hosts. I thought they were funny-but I am an easy audience. When Steve Martin intro'd "Dame" Helen Mirren as 'damn Helen Mirren' and she was for a millisecond like,WTF?,I thought that was very funny--at least for the Oscars! The whole '2 straight guys doing the gay bit' can be excruciatingly bad if not done right,tho. Especially with the PC dogma that gays are wonderful that pervades the Oscars;yove gotta have a little hostility,and a dash of disgust,to make that kind of humor funny. Also Steves joke about the strange actor from 'Inglorious Basterds' was a bit dark:he was looking for Jews. Steve spreads his arms,'Well..." His other line,about pointing to one area and saying,"Heres the section for the Inglorious Basterds" then pointing in the opposite direction,"heres where the actors from the movie sit." A few years ago someone made a great joke reffering to the Weinsteins and the movie(I think)'Monster'. Good stuff. E)Mo'nique?She was there with her husband. As Steve Dahl once said of Tom Arnold and his marriage to Roseanne,"If he can get it up for her,he must be a REAL heterosexual!"

woman said...

The Academy chose HL not simply because its director was a woman but because she had said her film was anti-war.

This was HW once again enjoying its position as the Culture Shaper.

I didn't watch the show. Haven't in years. Used to see maybe two films a year in a theater but rent lots of them--no longer.

I grown sick of actors shoving their politics in my face, guys like Matt Damon. At least Alec Baldwin, political trash talker though he may be, is, I think, aware that he's crazy.

Maybe someone's memory and knowledge of Oscar/HW history is better than mine, but it seems nothing's been the same since the year Marlon Brando won but refused to attend because of the plight of the poor, poor, poor Indians. Brando--another crazy guy.

It's hard to lose yourself in a movie when the performers' personas,complete with their political views, overshadow the films' characters.

Mitch said...

it was easily the least deserving winner of all time.

Oh, please. That's just stupid. The Hurt Locker got excellent reviews from the moment it was released. I haven't even seen it, and I can tell you that it's not even close to the worst winner of all time.

Ironic, isn't it, that the 10 film nomination was supposed to lead to a popular film winning?

Richard Hoste said...

Notice how the black guy in HL is super together and competent, one white guy is a nervous wreck and the other is sort of a prick.

Anonymous said...

Jody - In my old age, I'm a bit cynical about movie 'losses'.

I suspect there is a lot of creative accounting going on, I'll bet her movies have done better than those numbers suggest, not saying they are fantastic movies or anything.

Also years down the line they are still generating a stream (OK, maybe a trickle!) of rental revenues & TV screenings.

Harry Baldwin said...

MWT said...You should write a piece on Johnny Ramone - one of the very few conservative punk rockers. He claimed he was a "Nixon man." Joey, on the other hand, was a liberal Jew. Dee Dee was bat-s&^T crazy in an endearing sort of way... Interesting band.

One of my brushes with greatness. I was supposed to do the album cover for "Road to Ruin," but John Holstrum ended up snagging the project. I had three meetings with the band at Danny Fields' office on 57th St (IIRC). Dee Dee was constantly sniffling into a kleenex. I couldn't believe how wide his hips were in relation to his shoulders; I think that's why he always stood askew for photos. Dee Dee sat on the floor against the wall playing with a lock-blade knife, over and over. Looking him in the eye was like looking in bottomless wells of ignorance. Johnny was okay but didn't say much. They were getting rid of their old drummer at the time so I didn't meet him. Anyway, great band!

Anonymous said...

I haven't even seen it, and I can tell you that it's not even close to the worst winner of all time.

Dude, that is a really, really weird sentence.

C'mon, get serious.

travis said...

The Academy chose HL not simply because its director was a woman but because she had said her film was anti-war.

As Anthony Swofford wrote in Jarhead: "Vietnam war films are all pro-war, not matter what the supposed message, what Kubrick or Coppola or Stone intended."

The only way to make an anti-war film is to make a boring one.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Ironic, isn't it, that the 10 film nomination was supposed to lead to a popular film winning?

Nah - I suspect it was just supposed to get more people to watch the Oscars ("My favorite movie could win!") plus add cachet to their advertising ("Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar!").

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

I didn't see "Hurt Locker" as anti-war, whatever Bigelow may claim. If it really was her goal, then she failed - miserably. Which is why it wasn't her goal.

I saw it as emphatically pro-soldier, pro-American, anti-Middle East Muslim, and more or less neutral regarding the war. And those soldiers? Some kickass SOB's they were, and she even throws in a few Brits (Ralph Fiennes!) to give them some good press, too. I also love the David Morse cameo - Morse, another British name! Bigelow is the anti-Cameron, celebrating Britishness wherever she finds it.

By the way, Renner's character in HL was named <a href=""William James." A WASPish name for an ethnically British character and - perhaps? - a subtle reference to the fact that the movie is a psychological examination of the kind of mofo who would join EOD.

"The Hurt Locker" was a perfect movie: a Spartan movie for Sparta's favorite pastime - war.

Steve Kammerman said...

What can you say, big is out, little/independent is in (especially in a down economy). Crash, No Country for Old Men....even the great James Cameron couldn't win it this time around.

jody said...

one of the worst things about the best editing award, or maybe it's just another problem the ridiculous best screenplay award:

they didn't even try to make it look like it was 2004. they just filmed it and called it a day!

the worst scene is when the bomb technician escorts are going on and on about how the iraqis are going to put them on youtube.

youtube did not exist in 2004. this would be like the rangers in blackhawk down talking about how they googled "mogadishu" before being deployed.

xbox 360 did not exist in 2004 and neither did gears of war, but soldiers are shown playing them.

did this movie even have a continuity editor? how the heck did it win best editing? if mark boal did not even bother to get this easy stuff correct, it's no wonder the military stuff was so incorrect.

Reactionary said...

Whiskey was fundamentally correct about Avatar: politically correct dreck, utterly forgettable, making up for its plot-that-writes-itself and shallow characters with special effects that mean nothing to people outside the industry. Though, as somebody noted, we are going to see some great advances in animated porn.

Anonymous said...

I heard the hype before seeing HL and was disappointed. Every critic was falling over themselves about how it accurately captured the experience of war through the eyse of these EOD guys.

Mistakes like the wrong uniform, YouTube or XBox didn't really register with me. No big deal. It was the illogical and far-fetched elements that ruined the film which was supposed to be so true to life.

For example, the fact that Iraqi snipers down a few guys with one bullet apiece every 2-3secs and then don't even fire again at the exposed US sniper felt like I was watching dozens of Japs waiting for John Wayne to mow them down. And how was I supposed to believe these EOD guys are expert snipers? Do they have XRay vision too?

There were so many elements that were just too far fetched which ruined the movie for me. The EOD guys never using a robot even once to successfully explode a bomb. The EOD guys going in without massive support with only 2 EOD guys covering for the third. The guys running off base into the city at night alone. You'd have to be left-brain dead to think that such a reckless cowboy would avoid being drummed out of the military or fraged, but that he could have successfully defused and detonated hundreds of explosives by hand.

Anonymous said...

Notice how the black guy in HL is super together and competent, one white guy is a nervous wreck and the other is sort of a prick.

That makes the white characters more interesting as personalized beings while the black guy is just a symbol.

Btw, does Hoste complain about how non-whites were portrayed in past movies or is he offended ONLY when whites are 'demeaned'?

Isn't this Hoste guy the admirer of psychopathic North Korea because it has a racial ideology even crazier than the Nazis did?

Stoy said...

The Academy chose HL not simply because its director was a woman but because she had said her film was anti-war.

We must keep in mind anti-war isn't necessarily anti-American. All war movies with any depth acknowledges that WAR IS HELL. It is even when the cause is just.
To the extent that decent people see war as a necessary evil that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, they are all anti-war. As Omar Bradley said to Patton, "I do this cuz I gotta; you do it cuz you love it." Bradley was a great anti-war war commander.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

For people seeing it for the first time now, it has a hard time living up to the legend.

One thing I've noticed about films that follow the path of indie darling/cult video hit is that it may take a few viewings to get past the hype and understand what the fuss was about. This was definitely the case for me with "Napoleon Dynamite," which was THE hipster comedy of 2004. When I first saw it, I expected to be blown away, but was utterly nonplussed. But as I caught it on cable a few times, I began to appreciate it more - particularly the meticulously crappy set design. I think every inanimate object in the film is unappealing in some way. That took vision, and I admire it.

FelixM said...

Actually, I saw "Hurt Locker" last night. A good film but not a great film.

As Captain Jack Aubrey said, it comes across as pro-soldier, pro-American and anti-Middle East Muslim.

But it underscores the Bush administration's lack of thought about what was going to happen after the war was won.

Truth said...

"Whiskey was fundamentally correct about Avatar:"

For argument's sake, one would probably say, in the Queen's English, that Whiskey was tangentially correct about Avatar. His fundamental prediction was that the movie was going to be a huge financial flop; dead wrong. Was the movie an artistic disaster, arguably, so we can award a D+ or so if being congenial.

Anonymous said...

Did people here see the same Oscar ceremony I saw? Bigelow dedicated her two Oscars to the heroism of the US military in both Afghanistan and Iraq -- twice. The second time, she included policemen and other people "in uniform" in her tribute.

It wasn't at all an "anti-war" or "left-wing" attitude.

She might have said it was "anti-war" in order to get initial funding for the film, but her Oscar speech was anything but.

Anonymous said...

But it underscores the Bush administration's lack of thought about what was going to happen after the war was won.

"Bush administration" and "thought" do not belong in the same sentence.

Anonymous said...

I was rooting for Hurt Locker just because it wasn't Avatar. By Oscar time it was so clear to me that these were the front runners that I viewed the other movies as kind of like third party candidates to their Obama and McCain.