Saturday, March 6, 2010

Will Avatar win the Best Picture Oscar?

Avatar iPhone wallpaper, originally uploaded by xploitme.

As the 82nd Academy Awards are to be announced shortly, is there a possibility that Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker that grossed about $19 million in the box office and made at a lowly budget of only $11 million beat the mega budget movie Avatar? Avatar was produced at an officially announced budget of $237 million, but unofficial estimates put the cost between $280 million and $310 million for production and $150 million for promotion making the total $460 million. And to justify its cost, Avatar has broken many box office records and grossed over $2.6 billion, a box office record that even James Cameron may not beat in his life time. It is the highest-grossing film of all time in North America and worldwide, surpassing Cameron’s Titanic, which had held the records for the previous 12 years.

So, if The Hurt Locker wins the best picture award over Avatar, it will only reaffirm that an artistically made film has a chance of winning against a high-tech and high-budget films like Avatar. The point was proved last year by Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (budget $15.1 m) by beating films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (budget: $160 m, gross revenue: $334 m) that lead the pack with 13 nominations, and The Dark Knight (budget: $185 million, gross revenue: $1 billion). If The Hurt Locker beats Avatar, it will also set aside the fears expressed by some critics and directors that the future of cinema will be decided by the combined power of money and technology, and not creativity and true cinematic arts that has gripping human stories.

Avatar and The Hurt Locker are at the top of Oscar nominations and tied with nine Academy Award nominations each. It seems Cameron is in no competition with ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for the top honours as he said in an interview recently.

And while Avatar is on the top of the popularity chart, The Hurt Locker is the favorite of critics and lovers of artistically made thrillers. And there is the possibility like it happened in the case of Slumdog Millionaire in 2009: another underdog, but a gripping human drama, Precious (budget: $10 million) may walk away with the best picture award. But who knows the minds of 5777 Academy members?

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