I saw The Hurt Locker on a Friday evening in early August last year, at E Street Cinema here in Washington, DC. I remember the circumstances mostly because Rahm Emanuel was standing in line for popcorn in front of me (a couple of large, stern-looking dudes with wires in their ears were watching from about 10 yards away). The theater is about four blocks from his office so I guess he’d popped over after work.
If you haven’t seen it, the movie deserves every ounce of praise it’s received. It was the only unambiguously great movie of 2009, I think. The Academy has made plenty of bum decisions over the years, rewarding stunts instead of performances and treating middlebrow as high art, so it should get commensurate credit for this. The Hurt Locker didn’t have any stars, it didn’t make very much money, it didn’t generate a lot of high-pitch buzz. It had no overt political message, other than to dwell on the corrosive and bewildering effect of war on the soul, a subject that no honest war film can avoid. It just was what it was meant to be, perfectly, and when the dust settled it was the only choice to make. When was the last time that happened? Chariots of Fire in 1981? The whole thing is really remarkable.