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The Oscars: The Hurt Locker’s crowning achievement

Though The Hurt Locker went into the evening as the favorite, it was “anything but a sure thing,” said Alex Ben Block in The Hollywood Reporter.

“The film industry made history Sunday night,” said Amy Argetsinger in The Washington Post. For the first time in its eight-decade existence, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its Best Director Oscar to a woman—Kathryn Bigelow, for the Iraq war drama The Hurt Locker. Bigelow’s film also took home the prize for Best Picture, beating out the 3-D science-fiction epic Avatar, directed by her ex-husband James Cameron. Bigelow made “little mention onstage of the glass ceiling she had just shattered,” but one fact puts it into perspective: She was only the fourth female director ever nominated.

Though The Hurt Locker went into the evening as the favorite, it was “anything but a sure thing,” said Alex Ben Block in The Hollywood Reporter. “The lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time,” it has made only $17 million worldwide. Avatar, by contrast, has made more than $700 million in the U.S. alone. The show’s organizers were also doing all they could this year to celebrate more mainstream hits, in part by expanding the number of Best Picture nominees from five to 10. But the voters didn’t stick to that script. Hollywood may be a place where most decisions are “driven by the need to make large amounts of money,” but most actors, writers, and even producers “still want to be seen as making art.”

It would be nice to think this was a vote for art over commerce, said Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. In fact, it was a vote against technology. The innovative Avatar was the real history-making film this year. Yet “the Academy remains a deeply tradition-bound institution,” and its members are frightened of 3-D cameras and computer-generated aliens. So Avatar joined the ranks of groundbreaking films that didn’t win Best Picture—like Jaws and Star Wars—while the Academy proved “that its tastes are hopelessly out of touch with rank and file moviegoers.”

And the winners were …

Best Picture The Hurt Locker

Best DirectorKathryn BigelowThe Hurt Locker

Best Actor Jeff BridgesCrazy Heart

Best Actress Sandra BullockThe Blind Side

Best Supporting Actor Christoph WaltzInglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress Mo’NiquePrecious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

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