Leading article: Hollywood or bust

The real surprise of Kathryn Bigelow's Oscars is that she should be the first woman to get the best director award. How can this be?

It can't only be because Hurt Locker is a film about men and that most male of activities, war. It has been over 70 years since the late, great (and British born) Ida Lupino first muscled into the masculine world of films noirs as director. Since then there have been a host of women directors tackling the big subjects.

Nor can it be a dearth of talent. Across the world there has been a veritable explosion of female talent of late, interestingly much of it in the most male-dominated cultures of Latin America, Asia and particularly Iran. Can it be that the US, the home of feminism, has failed to appreciate it in the most popular of art forms?

Or is it – whisper it softly – that the rest of the world values and supports the art house film as much as the commercial success? In which case, welcome aboard Ms Bigelow.