“Perhaps it’s too early to be talking about Oscars at this point, but Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker absolutely belongs in the mix,” writes Hollywood & Fine’s Marshall Fine. “There’s more tension in this gripping tale than in the waistband of Oprah’s skinny jeans. [And] its commercial fate is fraught with as much suspense as its action sequences, which will have you chewing your fingernails.

“It seems cruel to suggest that it might face the same sorry commercial fate as such deserving films as In the Valley of Elah, A Mighty Heart and Lions for Lambs, simply because it too is set in the midst of the Iraq war. The Hurt Locker is one of the year’s best films so far, and could easily wind up on many ten-best lists at year’s end. It far outstrips any of the summer’s action films in terms of the jolt it packs. Erase the word ‘Iraq’ from your memory and go see it.”

Fine is too political to state a certain blunt truth so I will. If The Hurt Locker doesn’t catch on over the next three or four or five weeks it’ll be because of the general Iraq-movie stigma, yes, but primarily, I strongly suspect, due to women telling their boyfriends and husbands that they’d rather see something else.

I’m obviously not speaking of the multitudes of movie- and art-loving urban women with MFAs and cool apartments and hip attitudes. I’m speaking of the women who came out to support Sandra Bullock‘s The Proposal last weekend — the ones who will almost always say no to any film that doesn’t traffic in emotionality, romantic intrigue and some aspect of domesticity.

Mainstream-culture women are the blandifiers, the shallow enemy, the destroyers of go-for-it cinema. Stand up to them, break up with them, meet them later for drinks, etc., but don’t let them take The Hurt Locker down.