The Hurt Locker (Winner, 2009/82nd Annual Academy Awards)

4 Jul

OK, I’ll come out and say it: war movies are not my favorite. They’re usually big and brassy and full of explosions.They glorify war and are usually panned by veterans and our service men and women as being unrealistic and ridiculous. Which is why I actually liked The Hurt Locker a lot. It is subtle and as understated a war movie I’ve ever seen.  When it won Best Picture back in March, it’s safe to say it hadn’t been seen by nearly as many people as Avatar or Up, and is in fact the lowest grossing Best Picture winner, as I mentioned in my last post.

The movie follows a three-man U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit in Iraq in 2004.  Starring Jeremy Renner (who was also nominated for Best Actor and was phenom), Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, the plot centers around this team in Bravo company as their tour of duty comes to an end.  Renner’s character Sergeant James is a replacement for the former team leader and primary bomb diffuser, having diffused 873 bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s something of a wild card and tensions rise among his team mates when he repeatedly puts them at risk.

As this is still a fairly new movie, I won’t spoil the whole thing here…but having watched it, I would absolutely recommend seeing it. Don’t expect a light hearted film that you can watch and forget minutes after, because it would be hard to. Check out the trailer here (which I hadn’t seen until just before I watched it!)

I know a lot of people were upset that The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar for Best Picture. But, it’s important to remember the category is BEST picture, not BIGGEST picture. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Avatar as much as the next person, but I don’t know that a reasonable argument can be made for calling it the best picture of the year. Avatar did well in the technical awards (Best Art Direction, Visual Effects and Cinematography) as expected, but no film has EVER won Best Picture without a nomination in one of the four acting categories or Best (adapted or original) screenplay. Avatar didn’t have any nominations in these categories, which is likely telling.

Also of note: the 2010 Oscars were the first since 1943 that had 10 nominees for best picture (with every event in between having 5), which certainly adds to the drama of the show and leads to higher ratings.

OK, got a little off track there, but back to my point: The Hurt Locker is not a big blockbuster,and doesn’t have serious star power, but was, I think, a good choice for best Picture. The performances are really good, and the way it was shot (on location and the camera work) really added to the authenticity.

Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)

  • The Hurt Locker became the first modern-war film since Platoon (1986) to win Best Picture.
  • The film was shot on location in Jordan.
  • With director Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director win, The Hurt Locker became the first film to win Best Picture that was directed by a woman.
  • The expression “the hurt locker” is a preexisting slang term for a situation involving trouble or pain, which can be traced back to the Vietnam War. According to the movie’s website, it is soldier vernacular in Iraq to speak of explosions as sending you to “the hurt locker”. (Thanks IMDB!)
  • Budget: $15 Million, gross revenue: $40 million+

A big fourth of July thanks to those who are serving and have served our serve and protect country!  Hope everyone had a safe and fun day!


4 Responses to “The Hurt Locker (Winner, 2009/82nd Annual Academy Awards)”

  1. Victoria July 5, 2010 at 4:34 am #

    Excellent post, pretty much summed up every argument I had in defence of The Hurt Locker over Avatar for Best Picture. It might not have had all the special effects or a huge budget, but it more than made up for these things in acting, plot, characterisation, etc.

    I actually do like war films, but I infinitely prefer the ones which make an attempt to be somewhat accurate and not to glorify war. I’d take Full Metal Jacket, Jarheads or The Hurt Locker over Pearl Harbor any day 😉

    • kdespres July 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

      Hi Victoria, thanks for the comment! Pearl Harbor is exactly what I was thinking of when I thought about the “typical” war blockbuster.

      I still haven’t seen Jarheads, I’ll have to check it out!


  1. Amadeus (Winner, 1984/57th Annual Academy Awards) « Oscartini - September 30, 2010

    […] English Patient and The Hurt Locker are the only Best Picture winners to never enter the weekend box office top 5 after rankings began […]

  2. Debunking the Categories Part 2 « Oscartini - February 22, 2012

    […] roles on a film, be it its director, writer or another part (See: Kathryn Bigelow, who directed The Hurt Locker and also served as one of its producers, or Brad Pitt, who starred in and produced Moneyball this […]

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