The Hurt Locker

When Crash won Best Picture honors in 2005, the Oscars took a slow step towards the Grammys. There are few movies I've seen in my lifetime as bad as Crash. Given that it was up against some very solid films, including Good Night, and Good Luck, Brokeback Mountain and Capote, only made it that much more hilarious. Million Dollar Baby in 2004 was another head-scratcher, but the competition was almost as weak as the winner, and Million Dollar Baby looks like Citizen Kane next to the clunkjob that is Crash.

All that said, the Oscars are still much more on the mark than the Grammys. I mean, to win a top category Grammy is actually like winning a Razzie; it essentially means that your record is terrible. Forget essentially; it does mean that your record is terrible. A few recent winners include Taylor Swift, U2, Herbie Hancock, Santana and Steely Dan. I'll concede that the Plant/Krauss record is quite good, but still not record of the year material.

I still trust the Academy a bit, but prior to 2005, I used to try and see every nominee before awards night. That stopped following the after-school special victor of '05. Of this year's 900 Best Picture nominees, until last night, I had only seen A Single Man (excellent) and Up in the Air (pretty good). Something told me that the winner, The Hurt Locker, would be Crash-esque.

Well, I was dead wrong. The best movies, to me, are the ones that have you reflecting on the film, or aspects of it, in the days or months following your viewing. I haven't been able to get The Hurt Locker out of my head all day. Do I think it should be listed among the greatest war movies ever? Well, probably not. My favorites, namely The Bridge on the River Kwai, Apocalypse Now and Platoon have very little company. They were that good. But I found The Hurt Locker to be better than Three Kings (a movie I loved), Hotel Rwanda (god awful) and The Pianist (pretty terrible). And although it's not a favorite, it's not Schindler's List.

Comparison's aside, The Hurt Locker is a very good, if not great film. Kathryn Bigelow's direction is phenomenal, and the three main characters, led by Jeremy Renner are sensational, Renner especially. The Hurt Locker doesn't jam a message down your throat, but in a very subtle way, is incredibly thought-provoking. There are scenes that stick with you and are delivered with the utmost honesty, looking at the good, bad and all areas in between that go with war. There's humanity, the mental toll, rage, sadness, confusion. And the cinematography is wonderful. This morning, I popped the film in the mailbox and just a few minutes later wished I hadn't. I could see it again. As in tonight.