To the extent that the Oscars are symbolic of professional acceptance of women outside the acting ranks, today's announcement of Academy Award nominations are gratifying on several fronts.
Kathryn Bigelow became the fourth woman to get a best director nod. Here's what I said today about what her win might represent.
Two of the 10 best picture nominees, Bigelow's The Hurt Locker and Lone Scherfig's An Education, are directed by female helmers.
The indefatigable Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren were nominated for the umpteenth times for Julie & Julia and The Last Station, joined by first-time nominees Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious).
Female art directors were involved in four of the five nominated films; female designers were nominated four four of the five best costume bids; for of the documentary nominees were directed or co-directed by women.
The music and technical nominations were dominated by men, although Sally Menke (Inglourious Basterds) got a nomination for editing and Gwendolyn Whittle is part of the nominated sound editing duo for Avatar.
In the screenwriting categories, usually areas where there are multiple nominees, only Terri Tatchell, who co-wrote District 9, scored a nomination. Nora Ephron's witty Julie & Julia was undeservedly shut out.
Besides the "battle of the exes" race between Bigelow (nine nominations for Hurt Locker) and her former spouse James Cameron (nine for Avatar), the most interesting races are in the acting categories. Will beloved Hollywood veteran Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) edge out beloved Hollywood glamorpuss George Clooney (Up in the Air)? Can first-time nominee Sandra Bullock beat 16-time nominee Meryl Streep, who hasn't won an Oscar in 25 years? I like all four performances. At Oscar time, though, seriousness (Bridges, Bullock) usually trumps lightness (Clooney, Streep).