Friday night, two days before the Academy Awards, was also Avatar night for me. I must be the last online blogger/film critic in America who has not seen this film. I am embarrassed. It begs the question: what were you thinking? The truth is that about the time this film was released I was in therapy for a severe case of acrophobia. Combine that with Meniere's disease (dizzy spells) and I needed to do a lot of thinking before I went to see the movie. But I have a great therapist and he told me that one day I would need to test the work we had done to see if indeed I was cured of acrophobia. Avatar put my therapy to the test.
Mind you, I only knew that Avatar was available in 3-D and a regular 2-D version, and I had read a lot of film reviews and comments. But my intuition told me that heights were involved, and lots of high-speed chases. And I think I can say this without revealing too much about the movie — I was so right. Height is a huge factor in Avatar. Cameron has created something called “hanging mountains” and you have to see them to believe them. It was all about height and that would have paralyzed me with fear in the past. The ticket seller even told me I could get a refund if I couldn’t handle the action. Well, I must have a great therapist because I was able to sit through the entire 162 minutes without incident.
This science fiction sensation is decidedly anti-imperialism yet strangely pro-American despite the final battle. Yes, its storyline is on the weak side, and reminiscent of Dances with Wolves, although I found it more Mission to Mars meets Dances with Wolves! But my truest impression was this: Dances with Dinosaurs. Who knew? I don’t recall a review that mentioned the beasts of Avatar. However, based on the latest research on dinosaurs they were extremely colorful (extant version). Cameron had two dinosaur versions—one terrestrial and one avian. The avian beasts were the most colorful. But the terrestrial species were modeled after dinosaur finds around the world.
With some trepidation I was seated. The trailers were ablaze with 3-D super action flicks coming down the pike. Avatar begins… oh boy, never had this impression at a first scene. “Damn, this film is going to win best picture!” But that was my first impression and now I have to say that Avatar, aka “Dances with Dinosaurs,” will probably sweep the Oscars and win Best Picture. This is not what I thought two months ago, two weeks ago, or even two days ago. But as I write this I am pretty convinced that Cameron gave the viewer his money’s worth and more. While I’ve noticed that some winners have rarely thanked the reviewers for their win, this year one or two of them probably did owe their chance to carry home a statue to bloggers. Just sayin’…
When it was announced that 10 films would comprise the Best Picture list I thought it would be difficult to predict this year’s winners. Again, that was before I saw Avatar. Last year I published my picks only at my Web site and I had a great time touting them because I was batting 100% for the first 11 categories or so. That was 2009. This is 2010 and here are the rest of my picks for Sunday night. But first the list of the best picture nominees I’ve seen: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Precious—based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, A Serious Man, Up and Up in the Air. I saw nine out of ten this year. As for Inglourious Basterds — I did not want to see this film.
- LEADING ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
- SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
- LEADING ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock The Blind Side
- SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique for Precious—Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
- ANIMATED FEATURE: Up
- ART DIRECTION: Nine
- CINEMATOGRAPHY: Avatar
- COSTUME DESIGN: Nine
- DIRECTING: James Cameron, Avatar
- DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Food, Inc.
- DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant
- FILM EDITING: Avatar
- FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Un Prophete
- MAKEUP: The Young Victoria
- ORIGINAL SCORE: Avatar
- ORIGINAL SONG: The Weary Kind, from Crazy Heart
- SHORT FILM ANIMATED: French Roast
- LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: The Door
- SOUND EDITING: Avatar
- SOUND MIXING: Avatar
- VISUAL EFFECTS: Avatar
- SCREENPLAY ADAPTED: An Education
- SCREENPLAY ORIGINAL: The Hurt Locker
- BEST PICTURE: Avatar
So for this reviewer—it is all hail, kowtow and kudos to James Cameron. Because by my count, nine wins would be an Avatar sweep — if it wins every category that it is nominated for. If I had not seen Avatar my picks would have been slightly different, giving The Hurt Locker a couple of wins. But no, this is an Avatar night at the Academy Awards. I hope no one gets hurt.