Why small film 'Hurt Locker' blew away giant 'Avatar'
- By LOU LUMENICK Post Movie Critic
- Last Updated: 11:51 AM, March 8, 2010
- Posted: 3:49 AM, March 8, 2010
This isn't exactly the kind of Blue Monday that disappointed "Avatar" fans were expecting.
Oscar voters passed over the top-grossing film of all time, and instead gave Best Picture to "The Hurt Locker," which sold the fewest tickets of any Best Picture winner in academy history.
The academy also made history by choosing Kathryn Bigelow of "The Hurt Locker" as the first woman ever to win the Oscar for Best Director -- over her ex-husband, "Avatar" director James Cameron.
"Avatar" and Cameron seemed unbeatable in January after winning at the Golden Globes and becoming a genuine international cultural phenomenon.
But experts say the film's Oscar campaign failed to capitalize on its momentum and allowed the flick to get swamped in the inevitable backlash.
"Avatar" was widely mocked by the chattering classes for being derivative ("Dances With Smurfs"). A lightly revised script for the Disney cartoon "Pocahontas," underlining the similarities between the two films, circulated through the blogosphere.
Meanwhile, the film's campaigners pushed unsuccessfully to get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Zoe Saldana, who appears in the film only in animated form.
"The campaign was overly defensive, focusing too much on convincing the voters that the motion-capture performances were real acting," says a veteran Oscar consultant.
"Instead, they should have emphasized on what a game-changer 'Avatar' is for the way movies will be made."
It probably didn't help that many Oscar voters still remember Cameron's boastful "king of the world" speech from the night when his "Titanic" won 11 Oscars in 1998.
So Oscar voters continued the recent trend of embracing small, art-house flicks such as "The Hurt Locker."