2010 Calvin Awards: Best Director

February 12, 2010

I want bombs there, and there. Oh, and there's where we need to fortify against Na'vi.

Here they are: the people who make the magic happen. They're the Spielbergs, the Billy Wilders, the Hitchcocks, the Kubricks, the Coppolas and the Scorseses. Without them, risks would be lessened, and ideas would be smaller. They are the Best Directors.

The winner of this year's Calvin Award for Best Director is Kathryn Bigelow for her stellar work on The Hurt Locker. Yes, this is the first time that a woman has won the Calvin, though Sofia Coppola came close (unfortunately for her, she was up against Peter Jackson and his third win in a row). Bigelow, who previously brought us such great stuff as Near Dark and Point Break, delivered a film set around the conflict in Iraq, but the reason it succeeds is because its themes are universal and in the end, it's a taut, exciting thriller. From one scene to the next, we're never quite sure what is going to happen to the bomb disposal unit the film follows. We're perfectly willing to believe their lives are fraught with peril at every moment. She evinces stellar performances from stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty, and her filming techniques give the audience the feel of being right in the middle of the action. Bigelow has traditionally been very selective about her projects, but we can't wait to see what she does next.


Second place goes to Bigelow's ex-husband, James Cameron, who misses being King of the Calvins by eight votes. There really aren't enough superlatives to describe the impact this man has had on the movie industry. Simply taking a look at selections from his filmography is evidence enough. The Terminator. Aliens. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Former box office champion Titanic. And now Avatar can be added to the mix. You've heard people talk about the film as an immersive experience, taking 3D technology to levels never before experienced. Indeed, now that studios have seen how much money is at stake ($2 billion and counting), there will be similar attempts to match what the man achieved, and yet one has to wonder if in ten years, we'll all still be talking about which movie might have the chance to break Avatar's box office record. Simply put, Cameron spent years dedicating himself to perfecting the technology necessary to make Avatar work. The film is a spectacle and a grand achievement, and I think we've all learned that the director's vision and ambition are not to be doubted.

Quentin Tarantino finishes in third place for his alternate history film Inglourious Basterds. Like all of his previous movies, Inglourious Basterds stands apart for its smart, crisp dialogue, but in the case of Basterds,Tarantino lets his scenes play out a bit more deliberately and languorously and it works extremely well. He pulls out excellent acting performances from a wide array of actors, including several virtual unknowns, inserts music to perfectly accompany the action, and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats with the climactic finish. It feels like the closest to a classic movie that Tarantino has ever done, and he really appears to be growing into his craft.

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