Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman ever to win an Academy Award as best director. She claimed the Oscar for her 2009 Iraq War movie The Hurt Locker. Bigelow was an avant-garde painter in New York City in the 1970s when she began working with film; eventually she went to Columbia University's film school. Her first feature was The Loveless (1982, with Willem Dafoe), but her first splashy commercial features were Blue Steel (1989, with Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie cop) and Point Break (1991, with Keanu Reeves as an undercover FBI slacker chasing renegade surfer bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze). Bigelow became known as a calm and even feminine presence who liked to direct violent masculine action flicks. James Cameron, her husband from 1989-91, produced her 1995 science fiction thriller Strange Days, and her 2002 submarine movie K-19: The Widowmaker was well received. Bigelow reached a new level of fame with The Hurt Locker, a gritty and claustrophobic study of bomb detonation experts putting their lives on the line in Iraq. The film earned nine Academy Award nominations; Bigelow won for best director, and the film won the Oscar as best picture of the year. Her next film, Zero Dark Thirty (2012), about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, was also nominated as best picture.
Bigelow attended the Art Institute of San Francisco and then studied in the Whitney Studio Art Program in New York City in the 1970s… Her marriage to Cameron is her only marriage to date; she has no children.