It’s about a week to go to the Oscars and the question on everyone’s lips is: Will it be Avatar or The Hurt Locker that wins big?
Well let’s hope it’s Kathryn Bigelow’s intense and thrilling story of a bomb-disposal team in Iraq. It has similarities to Avatar – they’re both set in a place where the “heroes” are not wanted etc. – but does not resort to expensive technology or the gimmick of 3-D to heighten the experience. The screenplay of Avatar is a bit dodgy too (although Hurt Locker is likely to lose out, rightly, to Up In The Air in this category, it still walks all over the rubbish dialogue of Avatar).
The Hurt Locker shows that you don’t have to have a lot of money to make a great movie – the fact that Bigelow was able to get great performances out of relatively unknown people (Jeremy Renner has been nominated in the Best Actor category) and made the whole thing look utterly professional without resorting to Cameron’s CGI effects shows that was the best film of the last year. Unfortunately, the Oscars have become renowned for giving, once in a while, numerous awards to blockbusting films whose merits are mostly centred around technology rather than good storytelling and direction (heh, look at Titanic beating LA Confidential – oh, and Cameron was at the helm there too?) Perhaps there is less hope than we think of a David v. Goliath death-match.
But if Avatar was to win then it would pretty much destroy the indie film scene. There is already a massive gap in the market between blockbusters which get shown in multiplex cinemas and indie cinemas which screen independent, less well-known films. The jump to 3-D will only make this gap worse – as the demand for 3-D grows, so will the demand to have a simultaneous showing in 2-D, meaning that more screens in multiplexes will be taken up by one film. Both Avatar and Up, which is also nominated in the Best Picture category, did this when they were released: supply and demand, it could be said.
This means that a film like the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” (not to be mixed up with “A Single Man” by Tom Ford, it is actually a strange, darkly humourous tale of science and Judaism – it too is nominated in the Best Picture category), which didn’t have a chance of being screened in a multiplex anyway, will have even less chance of getting near to that holy grail. Can we really afford to have the indie scene wither and die like this because of awards?
So The Hurt Locker needs to win – for the sake of everybody who goes to the cinema and thinks “there is nothing here that really interests me”. And to think I didn’t even mention the fact that if she wins, Bigelow will be the first woman to ever win a Best Director Oscar….