Avatar Has A Lock On Best Picture Nomination? Really?

Illustration for article titled Avatar Has A Lock On Best Picture Nomination? Really?

Yeah, according to leading Oscar soothsayers and prognosticators, James Cameron's Avatar has slid into the pole position. Is it worthy? Worthier than these three other genre flicks that should get the nod instead?


It's clear, by this point, that James Cameron's bid at winning America's hearts, eyeballs, and disposable income has been successful: His revisionist take on the Blue Man Group's origin story has just about doubled its gargantuan budget back at the global box office. Which is fine. Spectacle definitely has its place, and that place is in the Ring of Awesome (which is right next to the Hall of Really Neat).

But according to Oscar handicappers like Entertainment Weekly's "Diamond" Dave Karger, Avatar is now the film to beat in the Best Picture race. Which just feels wrong. Avatar may be a cinematic achievement, but it's not the Best Picture I've seen this year. It's not even the best genre picture I've seen this year. Here are three others that deserve that prize more than Cameron's Folly.


It might occasionally wield its racial-tolerance metaphor with a heavy hand, but Neill Blomkamp's aliens-among-us flick taps into science fiction's rarely used — on film, anyway — power to reflect humanity back on itself. As thrilling as Avatar, and smarter by a mile.

This feature debut from writer-director Duncan Jones makes isolation an art form with this perfectly modulated story of a man (Sam Rockwell) on a solitary tour of duty in a lunar mining base who incrementally loses his mind.

As incisive a look at what it means to be a girl and related to a gaggle of strangers as you're likely to find, animated or not. Director Henry Selick took Neil Gaiman's novella, employed handcrafted wizardry and storytelling expertise to deepen its themes of desperation and heroism, and made a kids' movie that frightens while it fulfills.

No, J.J. Abrams reboot isn't a perfect film — that massive deux ex machina in the middle (Kirk just happens to stumble upon the one ice cave, on a planet full of ice caves, that's got a Spock in it?) siphons off a decent chunk of credibility — but it's got a ton of heart, some fantastic performances, and it accomplishes the yeoman's task of reviving a moribund franchise with high style.


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You know what is wonderful? How everybody can second guess the genius of a billion dollar film by suggesting other films as deeply flawed as the first.

District 9 is guilty of the same hamfistedness being lobbed on Avatar. More so because the aliens are so identical and cardboard that the only way to differentiate the one you are supposed to be rooting for is to put him in a red vest. I loved District 9, but at best it was a great film, and at worst it was half of a kick-ass video game.

Moon was a good character study, and not best movie material by a long shot. It's the kind of film that gives a director or an actor a shot at a personal Oscar.

Coraline was grand, and a textbook example of how to make a film that will entertain children and adults. It, however, is not in the same league with the film you are dismissing as "Cameron's Folly."

What Avatar has done, like it or not, is given a wide group of people an adventure, and created an entire world to do it.

Is it derivative? Yes.

Has this story been told before? Absolutely.

Is it the best film that's come out last year? I don't know.

But it has more going for it than any of the films you mentioned. and like it or not, more people will feel that way because more people will have seen that film than all of the films you suggest combined.

That is why it deserves it, and that is why it should win.