Kathryn Bigelow could have rubbed it in that her war thriller, Hurt Locker, earned her a best director Oscar and was named best picture — beating out her ex-husband James Cameron's Avatar.
Instead, she graciously downplayed any competition backstage at Sunday's show.
"I think he's an extraordinary filmmaker. I have to say, all the nominees are phenomenal, powerful, talented filmmakers, and what an honor," Bigelow said. "And for me, how humbling it was for me to be in that company, in that conversation. So I have to say, for me, it's a humbling experience."
When asked what she'd tell Cameron after the show, Bigelow said, "You left me speechless."
Bigelow — who split from Cameron in 1991 — says she learned a lot from her ex.
"I think Jim is very inspiring, and I think he inspires filmmakers around the world, and for that I think I can speak for all of them," she said. "We're quite grateful."
(Cameron said as much about Bigelow during the E! pre-show. "She sees my films when I'm writing them and cutting them and vice versa," he said. "She saw Avatar five times at different stages and gave notes. So we're actually helping each other!")
Of being the first female to be named best director, Bigelow said, "I hope I'm the first of many. And, of course, I'd love to just think of myself as a filmmaker, and I long for the day when a modifier can be a moot point. But I'm ever grateful if I can inspire some young, intrepid, tenacious male or female filmmaker and have them feel that the impossible is possible and never give up on your dream."