...will Avatar be to The Hurt Locker? I really, truly hope not. But I have a horrible feeling, now having seen both these movies, that the well-written, smart, thought-provoking movie will be overlooked for the impressive "feat" of making a certain type of movie and taking in a record box office gate (of course overlooking that it costs more to see Avatar than other movies. But I digress.).
Avatar was, genuinely, astounding - beautiful to look at, impressive technology. I can't remember which blog pointed it out, but scientists were the good guys here - Cameron at least managed to capture the zeitgeist and have the bad guys the evil corporate interests. The script, however, was absolutely terrible, and I didn't find myself emotionally engaged - at least, not as much as the person at the end of our row who was absolutely bawling for the last half hour of what was a very, very long film.
But does being an impressive feat of filmmaking mean that it deserves to win Best Picture? The Hurt Locker was incredibly well made - absolutely beautifully shot (but then, that wins you Best Cinematography) and well-written (Best Original Script). But The Hurt Locker was, in my opinion, much more than that. Bigelow managed to juggle our sympathies beautifully, so that you were torn between an understanding of how absolutely appalling the occupation of Iraq has been and continues to be for its people, and the sheer horror of bombs, of what they do to people, and how no one, regardless, deserves to encounter them. There is also one scene that captures brilliantly - for me, a complete civilian with no family/friends in service - how overwhelming returning to civilian life can be. How civilian life, with its ambiguities, no clear right or wrong, can't compete with the sheer terror, adrenaline and simplicity - in a way - of knowing one's enemy and having one, life-or-death decision to make.
It's not going to win. I can feel it. But you should see it.