It was not evident, on Oscar Night 2010, that Kathryn Bigelow would walk away a historical victor, for her modestly-sized independent film about distressed bomb technicians in Iraq had stiff competition, including a movie which remains the highest-grossing film of all time. Pluck persevered, ultimately, and The Hurt Locker took not only the Oscar for Best Director, but Best Picture, and four more awards too, including Mark Boal for his journalisticly-inspired Best Original Screenplay.
Boal and Bigelow would continue their collaborative relationship for the director’s two subsequent films, keeping their grasp on the contemporary with Zero Dark Thirty in 2012. Garnering near universal critical praise and a bevy of Awards Season accolades, it was also met with great controversy, triggering the ire of many who saw its depiction of “enhanced interrogation techniques” as an endorsement of the US’s employment of torture as a valid practice for extracting information.
For her last film to date, Bigelow plunges into the most politically material of her career. In Detroit, the pair of Boal and Bigelow turn inward to examine America’s extrajudicial actions on their own population. The relationship between the country’s police force and its systemic subjugation of Black citizens is a subject we’ve seen Bigelow tackle previously, proving, that, much has remained depressingly the same in the fifty years since the events of Detroit took place. Whether the film’s release was arguably botched by distributors or if moviegoers were still reticent to engage with an uncompromisingly brutal portrait of racial violence inherent to the justice systems of our country, audience’s failed to show up in 2017, leaving our tenacious, trailblazing auteur empty-handed at the box office, and uncertain if we will see another film from her anytime soon.
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