The director category is starting to feel like an anniversary party we’re not sure we want to go to anymore. Nothing against Kathryn Bigelow, whose taut direction of The Hurt Locker certainly merits its slot in this lineup. We’re just a little bit tired of having her all-but-certain presence in the category doubly commoditized—first by virtue of the fact that she owns a vagina and, second, because she’s expected to compete (and, so the fanboys tell us, lose) against her bloated ex-husband James Cameron, who ripped off Bollywood to bring you the biggest, most expensive tree-hugger manifesto of all time. Yes, it’s anecdotally historic for exes to find themselves dual frontrunners in any category, much less a category wherein women have been nominated only a few more times than have been nominated for Best Actor. Call us hard to impress, but when this category sees its first dissolved civil union faceoff, maybe then we’ll consider printing off the gift registry at CB2.
Until then, if battles aren’t your thing, you probably aren’t going to have much luck with the rest of the category. Quentin Tarantino is another sure thing here for his punk spin on your typical WWII epic, Inglourious Basterds, given the movie’s status as the first QT joint since Pulp Fiction to score equally well among critics, IMDB voters, and middlebrow plebes. And given District 9’s fixation with artillery, third-world strife, and gooey alien fluids, we’re going out on a limb and predicting BAFTA nominee Neil Blomkamp will find himself in good company with Bigelow, Cameron, and Tarantino, especially since we see no compelling reason why the directors’ branch should bend over backward to include Clint Eastwood, the Coen brothers, or, you know, another woman (i.e. Lone Scherfig, Jane Campion) this year. And there’s little doubt they aren’t likely to cuddle up to Michael Haneke as warmly as they have Pedro Almodóvar, Fernando Meirelles, or Julian Schnabel in the recent past. Instead, we expect the directors to keep pushing Jason Reitman down the path to recognition as our generation’s James L. Brooks. Sorry, Lee Daniels. Maybe next time get Billy Hopkins to direct an Iraq War thriller.