The Ex-Factor Battle: Breaking Down the James Cameron-Kathryn Bigelow Oscar DeathMatchS

The ex-wife of Avatar director James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow, won last night's big Directors Guild award for The Hurt Locker. As such, the Explosive Exes Oscar Deathmatch is basically on. Who "should" win? Who will win? And what're bookies saying?

Story

Hurt Locker: Guys from the military who defuse bombs planted by insurgencies they set out to bring "peace" to.
Avatar: Guy who takes on alien life form via computer to betray and then fight privatized-military presence with terrorist tactics while becoming one of the tribe he'd originally set out to destroy.

Advantage: Hurt Locker, by an inch. We don't really give a shit about Cameron's alien tribe because they're blue.

Performances

Hurt Locker: Actors most people maybe knew but weren't really familiar with did a great job making us believe they were defusing big, scary fucking bombs.
Avatar: Actors most people maybe knew but forgot about (because Sam Worthington's never been memorable in anything) did a great job making us believe they were blue people.

Advantage: Hurt Locker, because there's not one remarkable performance by a human while they're human, and if you want to know what an emotionally compelling performance using an image that isn't flesh and blood is, all you had to do was watch the first ten minutes of Up.

Technical Achievements

Hurt Locker: Made the most hair-raising, suspenseful movie of the year, about bombs, for $11M. Resourceful!
Avatar: Took $237M and reinvented visual effects. For $14 you could get a 3D alien dicktail in your face, and for $20, you could see said alien dicktail on an IMAX.

Advantage: Avatar, because even if you thought it sucked, you still felt like you were 12 again at one point.

Financial Achievements

Hurt Locker: Again: Made the most hair-raising, suspenseful movie of the year, about bombs, for $11M. Resourceful! But so far, has only taken in $16M. An Oscar win could easily boost its box office revenue, especially considering it was a film given a limited release, about Iraq, that's not a melodrama with too many existential questions about war.
Avatar: Took those 3D alien dicktails and pounded box office records previously set by James Cameron's last movie, Titanic, until they drowned in Avatar's blue 3D glory.

Advantage: Avatar, because even though Hollywood likes the prospect of money, they like the idea of patting themselves on the back for making a shitton of it even more.

Message:

Hurt Locker: War sucks, and especially waging wars against terrorist tactics, but for some people, this is their life.
Avatar: War sucks, and especially waging wars using terrorist tactics, but some wars are worth fighting, like the war defending your home, and nature..

Advantage: Avatar, because Hollywood's rife with treehuggers and liberals and people who want to empathize with Iraq. Not that Avatar has anything to do with Iraq!...

The Ex-Factor Battle: Breaking Down the James Cameron-Kathryn Bigelow Oscar DeathMatchS

Actual Message:

Hurt Locker: All wars are pointless, and they all result in death, and a compulsion/trauma tied to it that some people can never escape, no matter how far from it they may or may not try to get. Also, men are selfish, irresponsible assholes who can't control their most base impulses for the sake of their families.
Avatar: If an imperialist regime shows up at your door to make a mess of your native culture, you should kill them before they kill you. Also, no matter how awesome your native culture is, there will always be an Awesome White Man around to join it, infiltrate it, become part of it, and become superior to everyone in its native, non-adopted citizenry.

Advantage: Hurt Locker, because (A) the last thing Hollywood has ever done is take a risk with a message they believe might go against the grain of Real America (see: Brokeback Mountain), and (B) because anybody intelligent enough to see the not-at-all-subtle Awesome White Man angle of Avatar is reasonably both disgusted and tired of it.

The Ex-Factor Battle: Breaking Down the James Cameron-Kathryn Bigelow Oscar DeathMatchS

The Directors

Hurt Locker: Not just a woman, but an ex-wife, and James Cameron's ex-wife, doing something women in Hollywood don't do: direct movies. Also, two kinds of people mostly shafted by Hollywood's ever-stagnant dominant male paradigm, unless they're being patronized by other women (The Starter Wife, The First Wives Club, etc, etc. Just read the now-famous Manohla Dargis NYT interview if you want to know exactly how bad women in Hollywood have it).
Avatar: James Cameron, The Ex-Husband, a rich white guy with big dick money, big dick explosions, and a bunch of Oscar awards and box office records. Also, terribly memorable acceptance speech to back him. Which goes without mentioning his patronizing Golden Globes acceptance speech of recent:

Advantage: Push. Hollywood also enjoys bucking trends, and the aforementioned Dargis interview was, while nothing shocking, definitely a bucket of very public cold water to their faces. On the other hand, Cameron made them all a bunch of money, and it's called and kept a "dominant paradigm" for a reason: the men of Hollywood could want to assert their power in a caveman-esque show of solidarity against the ladies. Wouldn't be shocking.

Precedent

Guess how many women have won the Best Director honor? Yeah, none, exactly. Then again, a woman's never won the DGA honor before last night, and only six DGA winners haven't taken home Best Director at the Oscars. They aren't exactly small names: Anthony Harvey, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Ang Lee, and Roman Polanski. Besides being all men, they all have way more to do with Cameron than they do with Bigelow. Also, the only movie in the last five years to win a Golden Globe and a Best Picture? Slumdog Millionaire. Stupid Hollywood Foreign Press. You guys are stupid.

Advantage: Hurt Locker/Bigelow. Time for a gamechanger, Hollywood.

Bookies: Online betting site Bodog, before the DGAs:

Avatar: 31/4
The Hurt Locker: 7/2

But Bodog Bookies know Hollywood precedent, and betting lines rely heavily on this kind of thing especially for bets that aren't on sports. New lines haven't been released yet, but at this point, it's safe to assume this line's going to change to favor Bigelow, which means Cameron would get the profit bet, while Bigelow would be the "safe" bet. As it is, those are pretty decent odds in Bigelow's favor, anyway.

Advantage: Hurt Locker/Bigelow. The money people don't fuck around, but I might put a $150 on Cameron if I were a betting man looking to score some dinner money.

Calling It

The split. What's more American? A movie about the soldiers in Iraq, or a movie that made an inconceivable amount of money?Best Director's gonna go to Kathryn Bigelow, and Best Picture's gonna go to Cameron and Avatar. Best Picture typically represents the achievement Hollywood wants to tout as the one they're most "proud" of, rather than the one that's actually the best thing out there, which they'll give out for Best Director. 59 out of the 80 films to win Best Director won Best Picture, while 21 went home sans Big Prize. Everyone supposedly wins in this situation, even though it's just more of the same bullshit, and in twenty years, Avatar's gonna look like fucking Pong. The end.

The Ex-Factor Battle: Breaking Down the James Cameron-Kathryn Bigelow Oscar DeathMatchS

Also, here's the beginning of The Hurt Locker. It's better than Avatar.