It first must be pointed out that of the five nominees nominated for Best Picture (Drama) at this year's Golden Globes ceremony, the only film deserving of the award was The Hurt Locker (directed by Kathryn Bigelow). That being said, when Julia Roberts read the word "Avatar" from her envelope card on stage, it was met with some shrugs and looks of distraught--from both viewers at home and from people in the very same banquet room. Did Avatar really just win Best Picture? Hell, a drama?
Not to discredit the technological achievement by James Cameron and company but even before the Best Picture prize was handed out, Cameron was named Best Director and this is what the "king of the world" had to say: "Frankly, I thought Kathryn [Bigelow] was going to get this. She richly deserves it."
So obviously Avatar has struck a commercial cord with audiences around the world (so did Furbies) and that's why it's made mountains upon mountains of inflated movie ticket dough (don't forget those jacked up 3D prices). It's understandable: nifty visuals, an "archetype-laced" storyline and the credit boast "From The Director of Titanic" all help the movie's business model. But when does quantity completely take over quality in modern cinema?
Well, Avatar winning Best Picture is a potent (and scary) starting place.
An interesting dialogue started with the scribes over at The A.V. Club when the film premiered in December. Nathan Rabin (head writer): "This was far and away the single most expensive movie ever made [...] So I think people have kind of a rooting interest cause it could be like a Heaven's Gate-type situation--where if this movie goes down, it could take down a studio. It could leave this giant, giant hole [...] One of the reasons people are embracing this movie is because they want the industry to succeed." Scott Tobias (film editor): "It's a too big to fail situation."
The real issue here is not to put down Avatar. It's a blockbuster. Fine. Roger Ebert enjoyed watching it--though moments after it won Best Picture, Ebert quickly tweeted on his official Twitter page: "Avatar wins and I loved it, but...bleh."
The big scare given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on Sunday night was an economic one. The gesture of honoring Avatar mirrored more of a fiscal policy and less of a showcase for praise. It's a case of fans of the big fish who want to keep the pond rippling just the same. So then why have the awards show? That gold trophy holds true artistic virtue and if that is compromised--then what?
Plus, past all the 3D event mumbo jumbo, the film is pretty lackluster. Cameron is a hell of a director (he made Aliens and Terminator for crying out loud) but in Avatar he doesn't achieve that niche level of greatness he has done in the past. The film simply will not hold up as the years go by. That Best Picture award will, however, and that fact will have future generations of moviegoers looking back, scratching their heads saying, "What were they thinking??"
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