Last week, Peter Bart of Variety wrote "Unlikely Rivals on the Oscar Circuit," outlining how Jane Campion and Kathryn Bigelow were a part of the Oscar race with Bright Star and The Hurt Locker. But rather than simply outlining their accomplishments and discussing their talents, Bart gave the piece this weird, "at odds" theme, kicking it off with their looks. It's apparently strange that the "cerebral, somewhat severe, leans toward post-hippie attire" Campion could helm an all-out romance* while Bigelow -- the "tall, model thin" director with a "gracious manner" -- could bring us The Hurt Locker. As if looks are inextricably tied to theme. As if Wes Craven has to look like Freddy Krueger, or James Cameron has to be a beefy Terminator.
To be fair, kind words are given to both filmmakers; it's just fueled by this strange desire to make things at odds. Its execution doesn't relay a sense of distaste in Campion's and Bigelow's accomplishments, but rather an inability to discuss them without noticing a woman's physicality, without struggling to make connections between their looks and interests. It continues right down to the final line -- "Keats vs. Iraq: Now that's downright weird." -- as if Campion's Piano didn't already face off against the likes of Schindler's List and The Fugitive, as if Juno never faced off against No Country for Old Men, and so on and so forth.
As if women are some sort of alien species that cannot be understood without their physical presence -- they must be judged by it, defined by it.
*Let alone the ridiculousness that Campion has to be characterized as the "severe" woman to Bigelow's cuteness.