The nominations have been announced and analyzed, and the awards-night hysteria has yet to shift into overdrive. Which makes this a great moment to salute this year’s over-40 female Oscar contenders.
By now, everyone not living on Neptune knows that there’s a woman—a beautiful, 58-year-old woman—in the race for Best Director. And, in a delicious burst of irony, that she’s squaring off against her ex. It’s a plot line straight out of the classic Oscar playbook—critically acclaimed movie underdog going toe to toe against the high-grossing, critically acclaimed, and in this case technologically groundbreaking front-runner, with the marital back-story amping the frisson.
On Oscar night, Kathryn Bigelow might just end up brushing past James Cameron on her way to collect a Best Director award for The Hurt Locker, leaving him to console himself with Avatar’s stratospheric global box-office take. It could happen. And there are plenty of people—including a number of Academy voters—who hope it does. But let’s get real. In the history of the Oscars, Bigelow is only the fourth woman to earn a Best Director nomination, and her predecessors all went home empty-handed. (The last was Sofia Coppola in 2004 for Lost in Translation.) Still, this year’s doubling of the Best Picture pool from five nominees to ten yielded two films directed by women, both in their 50s—Bigelow’s Hurt Locker and An Education by Danish director Lone Scherfig—an Academy Awards first.
It's not a bad Oscar year for acting, either. Three of the five Best Actress nominees—Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, and Meryl Streep—are 45 or older, and one of them could easily win. The same goes for Mo’Nique, who’s widely thought to have a lock on Best Supporting Actress.
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