Oscar buzz – The Hurt Locker vs Avatar
By Rhea Penaflor
Will James Cameron be the King of the World again? Or would the biggest of Academy Awards go to a female director for the first time?
There are many ways The Hurt Locker and Avatar are pitted up against each other, but either way you look at it, both films have 9 nominations and are leading the Oscar buzz. This is how the competition breaks down:
Action/Drama vs. Animation 3D
Kathryn Bigelow vs. her ex-husband, James Cameron
Low budget film vs. Blockbuster film
9 nominations vs. 9 nominations
The Hurt Locker
A catchy title for a film (title of the film is allegedly the idea of a disgruntled 38-year-old sergeant Jeffrey Sarver in the army’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team ), The Hurt Locker is a 131 minute-Action /Drama film by American Director Kathryn Bigelow who introduced a different genre in film (one will feel dizzy after watching the film as the camera keeps on moving unsteadily) set in post-invasion Iraq. The story evolves a portrait of expert trained technicians of a bomb squad disarming roadside explosives on the streets of Baghdad. The film received “universal acclaim” making Bigelow the fourth woman in history to be nominated by the Academy and only the second American woman to receive such honor. On Feb. 21, 2010 she won best director and the film Hurt Locker won best picture at the 63rd British Academy Film Awards.
The Hurt Locker was first shown at the Venice Film Festival in September 2008. The film was released in the US in June 2009. The film stars Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and Anthony Mackie, with Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes.
Bigelow won the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures becoming the first woman to win the award. She also received a Golden Globe nomination for her direction.
The Hurt Locker has been subject to a number of controversies and criticisms including the multi-million dollar intellectual property lawsuit coming from Sarver who presented himself at the launch in Michigan. He claims that he was the model for the central character of the film, Will James. James is portrayed by Jeremy Renner who incidentally was nominated in the Best Actor category for this years’ awards.
Sarver further describes The Hurt Locker as a film that did a historic injustice where “Hollywood made billions exploiting veterans.”
Besides being the directed by a woman, the film stirs up more conversation because Bigelow is the ex-wife of James Cameron, her rival in the Best Director category. Not that it has anything to do with the directing or the film itself, but gender bias is likely to be discussed by critics. Critics are saying that if Bigelow wins as Best Director, it is because she is a lady making man’s film (The genre of war films has predominately been thought of as a man’s genre).
Even without any awards, the The Hurt Locker has made history. For the first time in Oscar history, the Academy banned an individual nominee from Oscar night. It reprimanded Nicolas Chartier, one of the The Hurt Locker’s producers and main funders, for an “ethical lapse” for circulating an email before voting ended urging Academy members to back the film and “not a $500M film” – a clear reference to Cameron’s multi-million budgeted Avatar.
Despite the politics and controversy, the film is undeniably good. The film’s 9 nominations speak for themselves. Nominations include: Jeremy Renner – Performance by an actor in a leading role, Cinematography, Directing, Film editing, Original score, Best picture, Sound editing, Sound mixing, and Original screenplay.
Genius Canadian film director James Cameron’s film is the highest grossing film of all time. Avatar is an animated sci-fi film best watched in 3D; the 161 minute film stimulates the viewers visually. Because of the fantastic visual effect, it is hard to comprehend the film not winning the award for Best Visual Effects.
The story takes place in 2154, three decades after a multinational corporation has established a mining colony in Pandora, a planet light years from Earth. A toxic environment and hostile natives (one corporate apparatchik calls the locals “blue monkeys”) forces the conglomerate to engage with Pandora by proxy. Humans dwell in oxygen-drenched cocoons but move out into mines to confront the planet’s hostile creatures in hugely fortified armor and robotics, or avatars.
Cameron and his brilliant visual effects team have created jaw-dropping 3D realism. It is a magical tale about flying dragons, magic plants and trees, little fairies, weirdly hypnotic creepy crawling creatures and untamed dogs rolled up into a rain forest with a highly advanced spiritual design.
Garnering 11 awards in the Oscars in 1998, Cameron’s phenomenal “Titanic” brought back moviegoers to watch and re-watch the film. Cameron did it again this time with Avatar having the highest number of nominations for 2010, same as The Hurt Locker with 9 nominations in categories of Art direction, Cinematography, Directing, Film editing, Original score, Best picture, Sound editing, Sound mixing and Visual effects.
Avatar’s rival then in the 82nd Academy Awards will be The Hurt Locker since they are contenders in 7 of the same categories: Cinematography, Directing, Film editing, Original score, Best picture, Sound editing, Sound mixing. Tune in tonight to find out who the winners will be.