The Hurt Locker

Release date: June 26

Distrib: Summit

While “The Hurt Locker” waited a while to arrive in theaters after bowing at Venice and Toronto in 2008, time hasn’t dulled its relevance or its impact. Among the year’s most critically beloved American films, and generally hailed as the best non-documentary feature about the Iraq War, director Kathryn Bigelow’s unsettlingly visceral study of young men in wartime earned plaudits for the primal force of its filmmaking and the subtlety of its embedded critique of the U.S. occupation (so subtle, in fact, as to invite criticisms of apoliticism from certain quarters).

With a $12.6 million domestic gross (no small accomplishment, given the poor B.O. track record of Iraq-themed fare), “Locker” has been hotly tipped for picture and director nominations as well as recognition for Jeremy Renner’s breakthrough turn as the most fearless member of an elite bomb squad.

Academy voters also could recognize Mark Boal’s original screenplay, based on his experiences as a journalist in Iraq, as well as the unerringly precise cinematography, editing and sound work that Bigelow was able to marshal on a less-than-$15-million budget.

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