Movie of the Year?

The Awards Committee for the Oscars this year blew it big time when they gave the Best Picture Award to The Hurt Locker instead of Avatar.

I loved both the films. And I have no problem whatsoever with Kathryn Bigelow being selected as best director for her outstanding work on The Hurt Locker. To the contrary. It’s wonderful it was to have a woman honored for this prestigious award, and she deserves the recognition.

They say the true test of a film is the story it tells. That was the rationale used to explain why The Hurt Locker was chosen Best Picture. The Hurt Locker was a story well told no doubt. It was important politically and culturally as well.

But Avatar did something very few films have ever done. It changed the nature of the film industry and the experience of going to the movies. There is more to film than the story, though I agree that under most circumstances, the quality of the story should be the main criterion for evaluating films.

This does not mean that I favor 3-D as a format. Most films do not call for 3-D, and the cost would be prohibitive for most films anyway. But the genius of James Cameron’s work on Avatar is the way 3-D was used as a stylistic and storytelling technique. Unlike the old 3-D films where things are thrown at the audience, in Avatar we become enclosed in an acoustical space. We go inside the movie, inside the story, inside the environments.

I’ve seen Avatar twice: the first time in 3-D, the second time in IMAX 3-D. Avatar is more than a movie. It’s an environment, an experience, a feeling.

And while the storyline may be quite familiar, it is always worth telling. No film has ever made imperialism, militarism, and a total lack of environmental sensitivity look more egregious than Avatar.

Movie of the Year? Avatar by a mile.

© James Lull