With The Hurt Locker, Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics' Choice Award for Best Director.
In April 2010, Bigelow was named to the Time 100 list of most influential people of the year.
Early life and educationBigelow was born November 27, 1951in San Carlos, California, United States, the only child of a paint factory manager and a librarian. Her early creative endeavors were as a student of painting. She enrolled at San Francisco Art Institute in the fall of 1970 and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in December 1972. While enrolled at SFAI, she was accepted into the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study scholarship program in New York City.
Bigelow entered the graduate film program at Columbia University, where she studied theory and criticism and earned her master's degree. Her professors included Vito Acconci, Sylvère Lotringer and Susan Sontag, and she worked with the Art & Language collective and noted conceptualist Lawrence Weiner. She also taught at the California Institute of the Arts.
Directing careerBigelow's first short film, The Set-Up (1978), is a 20-minute deconstruction of violence in film. The film portrays "two men fighting each other as the semioticians Sylvère Lotringer and Marshall Blonsky deconstruct the images in voice-over." Her first full-length feature was The Loveless (1982), a biker movie which she co-directed with Monty Montgomery and featured Willem Dafoe in his first starring role. Next, she directed Near Dark (1987), which she co-scripted with Eric Red. In the same year, she directed a music video for the New Order song "Touched by the Hand of God"; the video is a spoof of heavy metal imagery.
Blue Steel. Blue Steel starred Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie police officer who is stalked by a psychopathic killer, played by Ron Silver.
Bigelow followed Blue Steel with Point Break (1991), which starred Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent who poses as a surfer to catch the "Ex-Presidents", a team of surfing armed robbers led by Patrick Swayze who wear Reagan, Nixon, LBJ and Jimmy Carter masks when they hold up banks. In 1993, she directed an episode of the TV series Wild Palms.
Based on Anita Shreve's novel of the same name, Bigelow's 2000 film The Weight of Water is a portrait of two women trapped in suffocating relationships. The film is a departure in some ways for Bigelow in that it lacks the kinetic action and technical dazzle of her previous films.
In 2002 she directed K-19: The Widowmaker, starring Harrison Ford, about a group of men aboard the Soviet Union's first nuclear powered submarine. Despite an action-packed storyline, the film tanked at the box office and was received with mixed reactions by critics, gaining an aggregate score of 58 on Metacritic.
Bigelow next directed The Hurt Locker, which was first shown at the Venice Film Festival in September 2008 and released in the US in June 2009. It qualified for the 2010 Oscars as it did not premiere in an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles until mid-2009. Set in post-invasion Iraq, the film received "universal acclaim" (according to Metacritic) and a 97% "fresh" rating from the "Top Critics" of Rotten Tomatoes. The film stars Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie, with cameos by Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes. She won the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (becoming the first woman to win the award) and also received a Golden Globe nomination for her direction. In 2010, she won the award for Best Director and The Hurt Locker won Best Picture at the 63rd British Academy Film Awards. She became the first woman to receive an Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. She is the fourth woman in history to be nominated for the honor, and only the second American woman.
Other workIn the early 1980s, Bigelow modeled for a Gap advertisement. Her acting credits include Lizzie Borden's 1983 film Born in Flames as a feminist newspaper editor, and as the leader of a cowgirl gang in the 1988 music video of Martini Ranch's "Reach", which was directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron.