Sometimes negative PR translates into disaster, and sometimes it’s nothing but noise. Despite the negative press attracted by the film’s producer and financier, Nicolas Chartier, The Hurt Locker dominated the Academy Awards, winning six from its nine nominations, including Best Picture, Best Directing, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Original Screenplay.
Even more, the movie made history, since Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Directing. Accepting the award, Kathryn Bigelow took the opportunity to include in her speech the men and women who inspired the movie:
“I would not be standing here if it wasn’t for Mark Boal, who risked his life for the words on the page and wrote such a courageous screenplay that I was fortunate enough to have an extraordinary cast bring that screenplay to life. And Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty. And, I think the secret to directing is collaborating and I had truly an extraordinary group of collaborators in my crew. Barry Ackroyd and Kalle Júlíusson and Bob Murawski, Chris Innis , Ray Beckett, Richard Stutsman and if I could just also thank my producing partners, Greg Shapiro, Nick Chartier and my wonderful agent, Brian Siberell, and the people of Jordan, who were, such a… so hospitable to us when we were shooting. And I’d just like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. And may they come home safe. Thank you.”
We can say that the Oscar Night belonged to The Hurt Locker that won the battle over James Cameron’s Avatar (which won only three out of its nine nominations). No matter what follows next for Nicolas Chartier, nothing can change The Hurt Locker’s glory. Perhaps Mark Boal’s image will end up ruffled if Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver’s allegations prove to be true. Mark Boal may have won the Oscar for best screenplay, but was his story an original? If you are not familiar with the news, Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver filed a suit with the federal court of New Jersey: based on six counts, including misappropriation of name and likeness, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.
Sure thing, Boal defended his work, in an article published by the LA Times:
There are similarities, because you’d find similarities to events that happened to lots of these guys. But the screenplay is not about him. I talked to easily over 100 soldiers during my research and reshuffled everything I learned in a way that would be authentic, but would also make for a dramatic story.
At the end of the day, whether the story is an original or not, the fact that The Hurt Locker is a brilliant movie, flawlessly directed by a woman, cannot be contested. It definitely deserves its awards and accolades, and it makes a valuable addition to the Global cinematographic culture.
Kudos are due to the team at 42 West who did great publicity work behind the scenes to help secure the success of this movie.