Avatar was released in Canada on December 18, 2009. The notables from the cast are Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver. James Cameron, the Canadian of Titanic fame, is the Director.
The plot of Avatar revolves around a war veteran, Jake Sully, who assumes his dead brother's place in a special mission to the land of Pandora. Using an avatar identity, Jake infiltrates the native community living on Pandora. Initially, he is there to gather intel for the corporate talking head who wishes to drive out the natives and take over the land in order to mine it for its natural resources. Predictably, Jake bonds with the natives and his allegiances shift in time for the film's climax. Of course, this fantasy flick is laden with tree-loving and new world spirituality and anti-capitalism and aboriginal marginalization themes. Ironic when one considers both the financial and "green" costs of such a production. Perhaps they drank tap water during the obscene number of hours of labour it would have taken to produce this giant.
Okay, so the project may be rife with hypocrisy and the plot is not brilliant. But everything else about the movie absolutely is. Avatar is Oscar's other darling, grabbing nine nominations along with The Hurt Locker. It is nominated across the board for art and effects, as well as Best Picture. When it comes to special effects, the other contenders, including The Hurt Locker, should just stay home and play monopoly or something on Oscar night. The others are simply not in the same game as this film. But what about the other nominations? On principle, I have always contended that a film needed stellar acting and a great story to be worthy of the nod. Avatar did not contend for either screenplay or any of the acting categories, and the absence of nominations in these categories is completely fair. The screenplay was predictable, somewhat contrived, and classic fantasy/superhero material. Don't get me wrong, it is not ridiculous to the degree of The Dark Knight or other comparables. The story is actually not bad, and combined with the effects it had my constant attention. But it is simply not an Oscar story. The acting was unremarkable. Can a movie that lacks acting and plot truly be Best Picture material? Before seeing the movie, I was actually appalled that it was even nominated in that category. Having seen it, I get it. The Academy opened to a field of ten to accommodate such films. With the acclaim it has received, no one will be shocked if it does take home the prize. But for this gal, I still need a performance and a plot to turn my crank. As a corollary, for me the Best Director's film should be worthy of Best Picture nomination. In this case, I will be gobsmacked if Cameron does not win.
Avatar is a phenomenon and absolutely should not be missed. Oscar-snooty cynicism aside, I loved it.