Even though there are 10 Best Picture nominees this year, as usual it comes down to a couple front-runners. As the March 7th air date approaches, two films, one of which is unexpected, have emerged as clear front-runners.
In this corner, the people’s champion; James Cameron’s high budget, jaw-dropping 3D epic Avatar. In the other corner, the critic’s darling; Kathryn Bigelow’s low budget, highly praised, action face-melter The Hurt Locker. So, how did it come to pass that these two films made it to the top?
Avatar was always a front-runner. Ten years in the making, big twelve million dollar camera, 3D visuals to die for- combine these three things with James ‘Titanic’ Cameron, and you have yourself a sure-fire hit. However, it was initially speculated that either Up In the Air or, way earlier in the season, Precious would square off with it. As the many daunting awards ceremonies have shown though, Jason Reitman’s film is really only going to expect a screenplay award, while Lee Daniels can only expect Mo’Nique’s Best Supporting Actress win for his film. How did Bigelow edge them out then?
While all four films mentioned are pretty good in one way or another, as always it takes a few gimmicks to put you ahead of the pack. Scorsese’s Departed got the big awards mainly because they hadn’t really paid homage to him before, the same reason that Kate Winslet got her trophy last year for The Reader. Neither were the best work that the two had done, but Oscar tends to keep track of your points and give you your trophy when you reach a certain amount.
These aren’t the only gimmicks that fuel the Academy fire, though. This year we get a different kind. The two front-runners are paralleled in odd, unrelated ways. If Cameron’s film takes the prize, it will be the highest grossing film to ever win it. If it’s The Hurt Locker, it will be the lowest-grossing film to ever take home to biggest trophy of the night. See where this is going?
To add more icing on the cake, Cameron and Bigelow used to be married. While that may not say anything about their respective films, the entertainment paparazzi eat that shit up. Neither of these examples really show the two films’ merit, but in the world of Oscar voters who sometimes don’t see all the films, stuff like this is sometimes the deciding factor. Since Up In the Air and Precious had no describable qualities other than being exceptional films, they lost out.
We have to evaluate what this says about the Academy. Do you think The Hurt Locker and Avatar really deserve to be the two duking it out for Best Picture? If you had to pick between them, which one would you pick? Personally, I would rather see Up In the Air and Precious be the front-runners, but I’d select The Hurt Locker to win over Avatar. Lastly, do you agree with the Academy’s system of selection? Should you have to campaign your film in order to win? Mo’Nique doesn’t think so, and many bloggers called her out for it. I, however, agree with her completely. It’s the film or the performance on the screen, not the promoter off of it.