Muriel Award, Countdown to Best Picture: #2 

The Hurt Locker [240 points/24 votes]

“Most movies about the Iraq War have focused on what being over there does to our dewy, innocent young boys. Kathryn Bigelow, who has a classic action director’s fascination with process and professionalism, and her screenwriter, Mark Boal, are more interested in exploring what kind of grown man learns to function in the chaos, to the point that he comes to see it as his responsibility to be there for the ordinary mortals who will never fully adjust to it. She has the right star in Jeremy Renner, who looks like an almost schlubby regular guy until his character’s thought processes begin to unfold on his face, like an EKG chart or a fireworks display. He’s an inveterate problem solver who’s found a niche for himself where he’ll never run out of fresh problems to solve; if he ever does, it’ll probably be because one of them kills him. David Morse’s Colonel calls Renner’s bomb-defusing expert “a wild man,” but when he’s working, he’s the sanest, most creative hero in recent movies. The Hurt Locker restores brains to the military-action genre.” - Phil Nugent

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