Whose Oscar hopes has 'Avatar' killed?

I’ve never been a believer in the theory that Oscar voters have “slots” that they look to fill in the Best Picture race each year — the indie film, the blockbuster, the biopic, etc. That would imply that the entire voting body somehow decides on these things together, which obviously isn’t the case. But I do think the argument can be made that Avatar‘s newly-cemented status as a Best Picture frontrunner along the lines of The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air does have ramifications for other contenders that push similar buttons. For instance, Avatar‘s popularity among Academy members is likely the death knell for Star Trek and District 9‘s Best Picture hopes, since there probably won’t be room for two sci-fi films in the list of 10. Likewise, other box-office smashes like The Hangover and The Blind Side now seem quite pale by comparison to James Cameron’s visionary work.

The question everyone is now asking: Can Avatar win? Gregory Ellwood over at Hitfix.com is raking me over the coals for still having Up in the Air as my No. 1 contender on Movie City News’ Gurus o’ Gold chart. One thing’s for sure, though: With a bona fide blockbuster squarely in the hunt for the biggest Oscar of all, you can guarantee the telecast’s producers are doing cartwheels right now.

Image credit: WETA

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  • Matt

    Up in the Air FTW.

    • datruth82

      Please forgive my ignorance, but what does FTW mean?

      • Bill

        For the win.

      • Michael

        Not going to happen. Up in the Air will get the same 6 nominations that it got in the Golden Globes and THAT’S ALL!!! Films like The Hurt Locker, Avatar, and Inglorious Basterds will do well in the technical categories and look more like winners on nomination day.

      • Michael

        In fact, I predict that Up in the Air will have the same fate as Sideways and only win for Adapted Screenplay. Monique is still the frontrunner in Best Supporting Actress, beating Kendrick and Farmiga. I expect Jeff Bridges will gain ground on George Clooney and end up beating him. I expect the Academy to go with the first female for the win and vote for Bigelow (esp. since they can always give Reitman the writing award) and I expect Avatar will end up winning Best Picture (even though I expect The Hurt Locker to give it a run).

      • riknight36

        Or F*** the world if you’re a rasstlin’ fan or a member of Hell’s Angels.

      • Josh

        or f*** the world, whichever you prefer really.

      • lefty

        FOR THE WOLF!

      • Mt. Womyn

        or..f–k the world?

    • Jeff Eastwood

      I vote Dave Karger for cutest journalist of 2009 (and 2008 and 2007 and so on).

      • Sandro

        He’d definitely get my vote too…

      • Septimus

        Hear Hear!

      • Leewhys

        Hehe! Mine too :) Very Cute! Muah!

    • Telly B

      Cameron will win BEST DIRECTOR and AVATAR will get Best Picture.

      Don’t get fooled by Hollywood’s supposed open mind. Once in a blue moon, they will nominate a woman as Best Director, but they won’t give the award to her. Sad, but true. AVATAR is currently the talk of the town and a massive blockbuster, with great reviews and tons of industry fans. It will win in at least 5 categories (Directot, Picture, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Art Direction, and Best Original Song.

      • James

        I dunno, I think Bigelow is going to surprise people. She’s practically sweeping the early critics’ awards, even in the cases where the group has named another movie as best picture.

      • Michael

        I agree, James. The media will play up the ex-spouse connection between the 2 also whcih can only help Bigelow. The Academy has been all about history-creating moments of late and I think they’ll want to create another one this year.

      • James S.

        Agreed, again. I think the academy will finally want to reward a female with the Director Oscar. Sad that such a thing even needs be history-making, really. And Bigelow deserves it.

      • Jane

        Why is Avatar a shoo-in for a nom? Am I alone in thinking it was mediocre?

      • Lily

        I’m thinking AVATAR and Cameron for Best Picture/Director because the technology is groudbreaking and the film was amazing. That said, as a woman, and because her film was also incredible, I’m also rooting for Ms. Biegelow. I’m also rooting for Sandra Bullock who has been great for years and she was wonderful in The Blind Side. She hasn’t received many awards, so it’s high time for her.

    • Sally in Chicago

      Follow the Critics’ list — Invictus is falling.

      • Bobby’s Robot

        Yeah, but the Academy LOVES Eastwood.

    • Dragos

      Avatar will not get the Oscar…

      Check This Out: http://alturl.com/de3s

    • lambskinny

      AVATAR was fun; visually stunning but not even close for “best picture of the year!” I’m in shock!

      • Claire

        I know. It was stunning visually but the script was terrible and the story dragged on. If this even gets nominated it’ll be a shame since that means Star Trek might get the boot. That was honestly the best movie I saw this year.

      • Sarah

        Agreed! Avatar was certainly innovative, but Up in the Air was a hundred times more enjoyable and so relevant to our times.

  • Stacey

    How does it hurt anyone? Avator was always expected to be nominated. Or one of the potential nominees. Nothing has changed it’s position to be nominated since there are 10 slots open. I don’t think it hurt anyone. Star Trek was always going to be hard to nominate except it was popular. Is it Oscar worthy; I am not sure. Although it might get people watching… I still think Up in the Air might have more in it to win in the end… It’s the kind of picture that Oscar loves. Infomative with great script and amazing performances. Avatar is getting a lot of love but one of the biggest strikes against it is the lack of great script and story behind the amazing special effects. So I am not sure Avator is a sure shot at a win. It will be nominated. But win; ask me in February.

    • Kelsey

      You make a good point. Then again, another Cameron movie, Titanic, also had a relatively weak script (it wasn’t even nominated, I don’t think). That didn’t stop it from dominating.

      • Michael

        Again, Up in the Air is going to die. In another month, Inglourious Basterds and The Hurt Locker will have a better chance to win.

      • Tony

        not only WAS Titanic nominated, it won 11 academy awards, including best picture.

      • Kelsey

        Tony, if you bothered to actually research your facts first, you’d know that Titanic WAS NOT nominated for original screenplay at the Oscars. It was nominated for 13 and won 11 (the two it missed out on were supporting actress for Stuart and lead actress for Kate Winslet).
        Thanks for playing, though.

      • Jen

        Um, Tony? Kelsey said that Titanic didn’t receive a screenplay nomination, and it didn’t. It’s pretty easy to verify, so I’m not sure why you got such a thing wrong. She also said that the lack of a screenplay nod didn’t stop it from dominating at the Oscars.
        The point being that Avatar wouldn’t be the first Cameron movie to own the Oscars despite a weak story/screenplay.

      • Ronnie Deshe

        For god’s sakes stop attacking Tony. He did not say anything obnoxious nor did he say anything TOO stupid. He clearly just misunderstood about what Kelsey said. He thought she meant that it wasn’t nominated at all. Jesus Christ.

      • Gene

        Yes, all of these anonymous experts…

      • Mac

        Kelesy, “Titanic” recieved 14 nominations– tying it with “All About Eve” for most Oscar nominations. Beyong losing the two acting nominations, it also didn’t win Best Makeup, that honor went to Men in Black… thank YOU for playing!

    • Telly B

      AVATAR doesn’t have a great script, but the story is great; Compelling, engaging, fantastically well told and emotionally resonant. Why do people always get the terms WRITER and STORYTELLER mixed? CAMERON is not a great writer, but he is a PEERLESS STORYTELLER.

      • c

        You make a good point.

      • Eric

        I agree, the story really was Dancing With Wolves… but you know what? That was also a great movie. DWW made me cry. Avatar is a real tear jerker, on top of being an impressive, awe-inspiring ride. Everyone should really see it… in 3D. I thought I would hate it, but I loved it. You will love it, I promise.

      • sbwm

        Had not even thought of that way – it’s a great way to explain it. Thanks.

      • sbwm

        responding to “c”

      • sbwm

        augh! Sorry – responding to Telly B.

      • kudos

        the story hurts it not on screenplay level but on the fact that there other films better that didn’t rely on visuals and huge budget. also unlike titanic, avatar was dragged on to long ( 30-45min). it was the only long film this year i felt was dragged (hp6, public enemies).

    • James S.

      It doesn’t hurt anyone, Stacey. This is a completely retarded sound-bite, meant to fill up space on a website. Nothing more.

      • mik

        retarded has nothing to do with it.
        shameful choice of words.

  • Mark

    Well, what it really comes down to is this: Avatar is a popular, well-reviewed spectacle of moviemaking that, while it certainly has flaws, could revolutionize filmmaking (not making a judgment on that either way). More than that, there is no other movie to challenge it that has really been sweeping every award like a Slumdog Millionaire or a No Country for Old Men. The slate is very fragmented this year, and while movies like Hurt Locker and Up in the Air have received some prestigious awards and accolades, Avatar is showing signs of turning into a juggernaut. Does that mean it’s the best movie of the year? Depends on how much stock you put in the Academy’s opinion.

    • Kelsey

      As good as The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air are, even they have issues. The Hurt Locker is probably shut out just because practically no one saw it (which sucks because it really is an amazing movie). Meanwhile, I tend to think that Up in the Air peaked too early with its NBR success. It hasn’t quiiite been that big of a BO draw yet. The Blind Side is probably a little too syrupy/mainstream (although I think Bullock will get in). Invictus has been under-performing and Nine is an all-out bomb. Precious suffers from a bleak story and also peaking a little too early.
      A lot of the movies that should have been front-runners are kind of falling by the side of the road.
      Avatar may not be “the best” movie of the year, but it blew up at the right time.

      • Michael

        The Hurt Locker’s DVD release date of January 12th will help it big-time.

      • Q

        The Hurt Locker is a terrific film, but I would be shocked if it won. It would be the lowest grossing film in the last 30+ years. Box Office does count for something.

        http://www.boxofficemojo.com/oscar/

      • KT

        Since when has boxoffice been the determination of who wins the Oscar?! Please, critics love to vote against the general public.

      • EEK

        I agree. I think “Avatar” is a strong contender for both Cameron and Best Picture because the Academy ALMOST always loves to reward titanic (pardon the pun) effort. I think Bigelow will certainly get a Best Director nomination, along with Jason Reitman for UITA, Lee Daniels for Precious and now that Nine is a bomb and Invictus is under-performing, probably an open 5th slot. THis is what I always thought was suspect about widening the field to 10 Best Picture noms but keeping the Director category at 5 – 5 directors of Best Picture-worthy films are going to get shut down. To use the old adage: “Did the films direct themselves?”

        Anyway, just my .02…

      • shitina

        has noone considered A Serious Man and the Coen brothers?

    • Carol

      It will not revolutionize filmmaking, not at a budget of $500 million a picture. There was so much buzz about how motion capture was going to change the movie world as we know it and it is barely used. Performance capture is a technological feat but it is only one element of a film. It usually boils down to a great story and Avatar, from what I’ve read, doesn’t hold up that end of the bargain.

      • Mike

        Carol, you need to see it, not read about it. Someone above made a fantastic point, the storytelling makes up a weaker script.

      • Maria

        i happen to love everything about avator and would love to see it and cameron nominated. cameron told a great story with or without a great script.

      • Alex R.

        yeah “Avatar” cost a lot to make. But it was because they were inventing new technologies. Now that the technology is there, it wont be as expensive.

  • Adam

    Avatar already won Best Picture, when it was called Dances with Wolves.

    • karenbelgrad

      THANK YOU! Am I the only person who doesn’t have an interest in this film?

      • Adam

        Oh, I saw it and enjoyed it. The visuals were stunning, but if it garners a Best Picture nod with that story, ugh. If you want to give it recognition, create a special Oscar, which I think they did for Star Wars in 1977.

      • Patsy

        No, karenbelgrad, you’re not alone. Any film with dialogue like, “You’re not in Kansas anymore… you’re on Pandora” doesn’t just suck — it BLOWS. Awful, awful, writing that makes George Lucas look like a genius of dialogue writing.

      • Gorge

        Titanic, as well as other Cameron films, had it’s share of goofy one-liners-yet it isn’t bad or distracting. Most epic films really kill you with stupid dialogue, Avatar worked well to engage while not over-doing it.

      • James S.

        Oh, Patsy, you think that was bad? What about the reference to the humans destroying the planet: “They already killed their mother–and they’ll do the same to yours.” I almost peed myself laughing.

      • EEK

        Patsy, you’re right, but stilted, uninspired and hackneyed dialogue didn’t stop “Titanic” from a Best Picture win. Screenplays seem to be Cameron’s Achilles Heels, but methinks the Academy overlooks that and rewards the spectacle. The screenplay awards will go more literate fare.

      • Brandon

        Well, I’m not sure how Gorge worked his way into this foursome super-team comment session on Cameron’s poor dialogue choice, but I’m glad he did, even if it was before James and EEK kicked in. Avatar has something to be ashamed of. It’s so very sorry Pocahontas existed, or dances with wolves, or any of the other countless stories of savages with human emotion and capability – like a Jew; can you imagine a mid 20th century christian German sheltering one? Or a slave-driven population interested in those surrounding Uncle Tom? Or how Tom Cruise gives up the slaughter of Indians for a Samurai sword? How could James Cameron steal the story of so many relatable savages for his insanely imaginative world Pandora, for the Na’vi. How could he steal the precise formula that makes The Odyssey epic, or the Aeneid. Why would he even bother using the English language, it’s been used in so many movies before. Why when Natiri first describes an Ikran, a banshee, does she not comment on its natural habitat, its diet, its colors, its species, or sets of teeth, but that the Ikran “is not horse”; why do these three little words say so much more than whatever you’re looking for Patsy, why can’t the colonel’s language, which stays soooo true to his character, in a world that stays so true to itself, find refuge in your lingual heart. Have you ever seen a diamond? Have you ever seen a diamond perfectly cut? The story has been told a million times over, he perfected it, and he had a flawless diamond to cut. Do not discredit the imagination and the detail involved. Try not to feel so sad that you couldn’t feel this movie.

      • Alex R.

        The original “Star Wars” was also a classic story. It had cheesey diologue as well. It too revolutionized filmmaking. Am I the only one who sees a comparison. There were probably people just like you guys who bashed “Star Wars” in ’77.

    • Mary

      Yet, “Dances With Wolves” wasn’t that great either and it still won.

      • Brian

        I disagree that was a great epic, even though it beat Goodfellas for Best Picture that year.

      • michael

        I SO agree.

      • Jen

        It’s funny that people are all of a sudden “remembering” how “great” Dances With Wolves “is.” Kind of like how when Gladiator came out, people all of a sudden developed a fondness for Braveheart.

    • Zach

      Avatar wasn’t even nominated when it was called Pocahontas. (And that was a better movie!)

      • Lois

        Riiiight? I swear, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! Avatar was a beautiful video game to watch AT BEST, and who really wants to watch a video game for 3 hours? Here’s my review: http://bit.ly/6vNz4k

    • Alex R.

      yeah ok. but it didn’t.

  • Kat

    That’s too bad, since all the people I’ve talked to say Avatar has amazing visuals, but really lacks in story, whereas District 9 and Star Trek excelled in all areas. I wish the Oscars weren’t so dependant on timing, it seems so unfair.

    • Kelsey

      While the story is fairly well-tread, it’s not what I’d call “bad.” To be honest, I think a lot of the complaints about Avatar’s story stem from a bandwagon effect. A few critics decided to be contrary and had to find SOMETHING wrong with it, and it was that. I’d be curious to see how many laypeople would be moaning about the “weak story” if a few critics hadn’t started the ball rolling. At this point it’s practically a meme unto itself.

      • Bethann

        Simply because someone’s opinion doesn’t track with the larger consensus doesn’t mean the person is voicing that opinion merely “to be contrary.” You can’t possibly think that every single person who saw/sees Avatar has the same reaction as every other person who saw/sees it. That’s the only way you could claim that anyone who doesn’t think it’s the Best!Thing!To!Happen!To!Movies!EVAR only thinks that because they’re trying to be ‘different’ or ‘unique.’ The complaints about Avatar *are* legitimate. You may not *agree* with them, but your disagreement doesn’t somehow make the complaints untrue, or something people are saying just to sound different.

      • Nix

        I think Kelsey’s point is more accurate, Bethann. Just because some people say something legitimately doesn’t mean someone else saying the same thing is also doing it legitimately. The “weak script” thing may be perfectly accurate, but when people who haven’t seen it and do not actually care about fine dialogue start saying that, then it’s a meme.

      • Mariel

        I hadn’t read a review of the movie, I didn’t saw the trailer, I haven’t seen a promo on TV for this movie. All I knew about it (didn’t even know it had blue people, that’s how unaware of it I was) was the high expectations surrounding it because it was really expensive. I saw a couple of tweets praising it, so I decided to go see it (not a fan of sci fi). I found it entertaining, yes, but the story was flat,and I can’t now believe so many critics say this is such a great movie. Amazing visuals of course, but what a contrived story. It’s been told so many times it is already boring.

    • Zach

      Avatar’s story is too familiar, but it’s only really disappointing because the visuals are so revolutionary in contrast. Forgetting the unoriginality, the story still satisfies on its own. I don’t know about District 9, but Star Trek, even if it was less cliche, was still muddled to me. The time travel thing just did not make sense and was not well written.

      • ad

        i agree. star trek’s story was secondary, whereas district 9’s story is the reason it became the hit that it was.

    • Eric

      I was so disappointed by Star Trek, it had about seven unforgivable plot holes. And face it, you just don’t mess with planet Vulcan.

  • cali556

    I hate that avatar is getting so much praise. yes, the technology is great, looks AMAZING on imax 3d, but it wasn’t an overall good movie.

    • datruth82

      Really? I liked it, and thought the story was very touching…and even though the people were blue and a story tall, the topics covered were very appropriate and relevant for the world in which we live today. I was expecting to dislike the story, and found it quite satisfying.

      • Mary

        I agree. I liked the story too. I hate all this talk about how or why the story should have been better. Sure, it probably could have been, but what was offered was entertaining and satisfying, at least for me. In fact, I liked the “common” and familiar themes of “saving the environment,” which was mixed into a sci fi movie. It didn’t distract from what the movie is first and foremost about…the special effects and technology used.

      • James

        I agree, Mary. Yes, the story was a little simplistic, but given the sheer amount of visual stimuli, I think it would have been a little too demanding to have mind-blowing visuals AND an overly complex story. I think its relatively straight-forward plot allowed viewers to spend less time trying to figure out what was going on and more time appreciating the artwork.

      • Maria

        i agree with you. when i left the theatre i was thinking it was one of the best films i had seen in a while. i thought the story was very relevant to our world today.

    • Mike

      I could not agree more Cali. Nothing in the movie stands out besides its visuals, and the story and acting was nowhere near oscar caliber. It would be the wrong time and year to “change things up” and award the prize to a movie which is unconventional in light of the academy’s history; that time was last year and the movie was the Dark Knight.

      • Mike

        *were

      • Mark

        i disagree. The Dark Knight had several flaws, including the weak ending. Benjamin Button and Milk were far more deserving films than The Dark Knight.

    • kate

      Agreed I found it really over rated and can’t say it is something I will remember as time goes on, my reaction was this is supposed to be a great movie?

    • Alex R.

      Its just a classic story. Cameron has said in interviews that he wanted it to follow that classic story line. just like “star Wars”….?

  • Mary

    Avatar will most likely clean up all the special and visual effect categories. Best picture though? I’m sure it will be nominated, with 10 pictures now being in the running. But I think it’s still unclear if it will actually win. I guess it will depend on whether it can keep its momentum going until the ceremony.

  • Kelsey

    While I think a nomination is probably a lock, I don’t know if it will win or not. I’m definitely NOT in favor of rewarding blockbusters just to please the bread-and-circus crowd, but I think on the other end of the spectrum, the Academy may be shooting itself in the foot by crowning movies that most people haven’t even seen. Up in the Air is getting a fairly broad audience that will probably expand once the nominations come out, but I can’t see them naming The Hurt Locker as Best Picture when practically no one saw it, however unfair that may be.
    It’s also been a fair amount of time since the last “epic” type of movie (Return of the King) won, so maybe that genre is due.
    I think the first step is accepting that politics play just as big a role as quality when it comes to the Oscars. To think it doesn’t is just naive.

    • Michael

      I’ve always been interested in watching how the frontrunner at the end of the year aren’t necessarily the frontrunner when votes are due. Campaigning plays a huge part in it.

  • Bill

    I could see the Academy splitting their votes and giving Cameron another best director Oscar, along with a handful for visual effects, but rewarding something else as best picture.

    • Kelsey

      I think Kathryn Bigelow is going to sneak up from behind and be the first woman to win Best Director. If Bigelow wins director, Avatar/Cameron wins Best Picture and Up in the Air takes a screenplay award and possibly Best Actor for Clooney, that’s a fairly equitable spread of wealth. I don’t think any single movie is going to all-out dominate this year, except maybe Avatar in the effects categories.

      • Michael

        Jeff Bridges will end up sneaking out the win. But Up in the Air is a shoo-in for Adapted Screenplay.

      • Telly B

        Actually, I think AVATAR could be the biggest winner that doesn’t get Best Director…PICTURE, SONG, SCORE, SOUND EDITING, ART DIRECTION, EDITING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, VISUAL EFFECTS.

      • Michael

        Editing will probably go The Hurt locker.
        Sound effects editing will go to Avatar while sound will go to The Hurt Locker.
        Cinematography will go to either The Hurt Locker or The White Ribbon.
        Come February, Up in the Air will be a forgotten contender and it will be a brawl between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. The media is going to play the ex-spouses-vs.-each-other card big time in the Best Director race.

      • Gene

        Why isn’t anyone talking about Colin Firth in A Single Man? He is spectacular.

      • Nix

        The potential “drama” of Avatar vs Hurt Locker at the Oscars is too rich to pass up. Bigelow gets “1st woman Best Director” over her ex and his new wife, in front of everybody and the whole world? Aside from the fact that her work in Hurt Locker is quite deserving. More deserving than her ex-husband? Ah, that’s where “Best Picture – Avatar” would come in …

  • Michelle

    I enjoyed Avatar on an aesthetic level, but the story seemed weak to be. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are amazing, but that alone does make a movie Oscar worthy. In comparison, Star Trek and District 9 are better movies or more Oscar worthy in my opinion.

    • Michelle

      Whooops, I meant weak to *me, not be.

    • Snsetblaze

      Wasn’t Watchmen another visually stunning movie? (I haven’t seen either) so if that were the criteria, shouldn’t that be nominated as well?

      • Telly B

        Except that WATCHMEN didn’t get the fantastic reviews AVATAR is getting, OR the fantastic box office. Plus, WATCHMEN was hated by the purists who read th egraphic novel

      • Nelly

        Watchmen was a mediocre movie. I liked the comic book but the movie was made for 12 year olds.

    • wd

      District 9, while very enjoyable, was extremely predictable and a rip off of many sci fi/horror flicks. very twilight zone. Star Trek was a great flick…but I say great only bc the expectation for a sci fi/action blockbuster is so low, anything about average is fantastic. The time travel storyline did have holes, as others have pointed out. Again, predictable.As much as people complain about Avatar, there can be similar complaints about all the movies that have come out this yr. Including critical fave, the Hurt Locker. In the end, what matters is…were you wowed, were you entertained, did it move you in some way.

    • Matt

      Thank you! I enjoyed the movie on a visual level, too. It really was the “like nothing you’ve ever seen before” cliche. But the story was incredibly weak and full of holes. While, again, I enjoyed the movie very much, it’d be a shame if such a weak-plotted film won Best Picture.

  • K2

    Agreed if Avatar takes a spot in the race, then D9 will probably have a small chance of getting in too. But then again, there is 10 spots…

  • Ben

    Oh please no! All the characters were caricatures, it was bland, vanilla, boring, etc. The only thing that wasn’t mediocre was the effects!

  • DG

    Anyone else feel 2009 was a bad year for movies. I couldn’t think of 10 movies worthy of nominating. everythign was just ok although I do hope District 9 and Star Trek can pull a nomination to help the sci-fi genre

    • JKH

      Agreed. There were a few films I liked, but no standouts. In 2008, there were multiple movies that I felt were Oscar-worthy. This turned out to be the wrong year to widen the Best Picture race to 10.

  • Zach

    I really doubt that either District 9 or Star Trek would have been nominated anyway. You have 10 slots now, but the extras would have been filled by more indies (no Hangover either).

    Avatar was always seen as a contender, but if you think it came from behind, then the real victim here is probably A Serious Man, Nine, or (500) Days of Summer. They can’t all make the cut, yet they might have had Avatar flopped.

    • @Zach

      Nine flopped pretty hard, actually. (500) Days of Summer might have had a chance, or still have a chance. After seeing A Serious Man, I think the biggest thing going for it is simply that it’s a Coen Brothers movie. I can see it landing a screenplay nod, but probably nothing beyond that.

      • Zach

        That’s true, but Nine has still been nominated for some leading awards, so we’ll see. It’s such a weak year that I can still see 2 of those 3 films making the cut. Granted, maybe I’m underestimating the other mainstream films, as well as The Messenger, The White Ribbon, A Single Man, and Bright Star.

      • Carol

        Nine looks good but it doesn’t hold up to the ads and the trailers. One of its biggest problems is that the music is forgettable.

    • Nix

      Nine has Harvey Weinstein behind it. He’s stolen Best Picture before.

  • James

    While I agree that Avatar’s story was fairly unoriginal (although not to the point of ruining/sinking the film as some seem to think), I have a suspicion that it’ll be rewarded in the end, in some way, just for its technical merits. They’re not rewarding the film, per se, but rewarding the concept, forward-thinking, etc. involved in making that. It’d be a “statement” win.
    People also seem to forget that, at the time, Titanic was criticized for having a weak script, stilted dialogue, stock characters, etc. Its screenplay wasn’t even nominated! Yet that didn’t stop it from winning largely due to, yes, its technical merits and just because of sheer “size” factor.
    My point being, Cameron isn’t that great of a screenwriter, but he’d rather have a weaker version of his vision than a stronger version of someone else’s, and I have to respect that. Underestimate him at your own peril.

    • Zach

      Meh, Avatar is no Titanic though. No film is. Not everyone cared that the script glossed over the reasons for the ship hitting the iceberg, and that Jack and Rose were your prototypical lovers in peril. It was still a moving story and something we hadn’t seen as a movie-going nation for quite some time. As a narrative, Avatar is still well done, but it doesn’t strike an emotional chord on that level, and that will (possibly) be its downfall.

      • Jen

        I disagree that it “didn’t strike an emotional chord.” For my part, *spoiler* the destruction of the tree was pretty upsetting, and people in my theater were talking about it on the way out. I think Cameron captured Sully’s wonder and excitement at experiencing the new world very well.
        I think it’s a given at this point that the story has “been done,” but I strongly disagree that it was totally unemotional. I’ve talked to other people who admit to fighting back tears when the tree was wrecked.

      • Telly B

        If it didn’t strike an emotional chord, how in heck there were so many people crying at the destruction of the hometree? or at the moment when Neytiri holds human Jake in her arms and sheds a couple of tears? Or at the moment when Grace dies? or when Trudy dies? Sorry, but the film is a visual marvel, and that helped the opening weekend, but what’s making people watch it again and again is how emotionally resonant the film is… All the women I have talked to tell me they were moved by the romance, and the guys tell me they were moved by the plight of the Na’vi.

      • Zach

        I never said it was wholly unemotional, but also, none of the people I’ve talked to or seen when I saw the movie were crying or so moved by the story. I was only saying it didn’t come close to Titanic on an emotional level, not that it didn’t register at all.

      • ashlee

        I agree. Titanic had visual effects not seen before and an emotional connection. I saw Avatar, found it very visual but nothing new. At times you can see the seams between the Navi and background. Also the characters and script lack any emotional weight. Five minutes after leaving the theatre all you remember is the technology.

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