Kathryn Bigelow is, to date, the only woman to ever have won the Academy Award for Best Director, and while it’s a crime that no other women have won, to say that Bigelow deserves her award is a vast understatement. Bigelow began her film career right out of film school at Columbia University with her direction of the short film The Set-Up in 1978. Four years later, she was directing her first full-length feature The Loveless starring Willem Dafoe. She followed this up with 1987’s Near Dark, a vampire Western with a modern setting that is still one of the best vampire movies ever made. After Near Dark, Bigelow moved into directing action films, starting with Blue Steel. She directed the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze surfer movie Point Break (another cult hit), and the sci-fi murder mystery Strange Days starring Ralph Fiennes. She took a prolonged break from filmmaking following Strange Days, returning to the director’s chair seven years later for K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002. In 2008, Bigelow directed The Hurt Locker, which won her the Oscar. Her next film, Zero Dark Thirty, premieres this winter. In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people. She turns 61 today.