Friday, March 05, 2010

The Oscar for Best Picture goes to...

The Hurt Locker delivers a deep punching reality - by Nick van der Leek

Rumor has it that the Oscar for best picture is a head to head between Bigelow's The Hurt Locker and her ex, Jim Cameron, who made the epic AVATAR.

Usually I would lean toward realism, and in this Locker delivers gritty war stories that will bury you to your armpits. It's well made, and puts a different spin on Iraq, a much needed spin. And, it must be said, a woman's perspective on this mostly male pursuit doesn't hurt. Well, in a sense, all those jabs hurt even more. Bigelow's portrayal of a man who doesn't hesitate on the field of battle, but who is dumbfounded in a supermarket aisle [trying to choose a cereal] bring a much needed, and brilliant subtlety to a theme that has grown stale.

As far as I am concerned, war is a mess. I am not sure whether there is much to understand or more to see to know that it's a game best avoided. Maybe there are some people who are as comfortable in the line of fire as the cap-back-to-front consumer is striding through the mall. Yes, it's a crazy world we live in, and Hurt Locker exposes that craziness up close and personal.

For me the Oscar goes to AVATAR because ultimately it is an uplifting flick, and ultimately, the world could do with inspiration and color and imagination. One of the most serious issues facing the planet [as opposed to America] is climate change, and if you don't believe that, then let's just call it issues facing the environment.
AVATAR asks us to enter a world where we can connect to each other and the world. This, even in a metaphorical sense, is a far more powerful theme, a more worthy message than a flick that sort of tells us how heroic some soldiers are in Iraq, where war is dangerous and worse than we thought.

AVATAR also asks us to move beyond what we know, beyond our paralysis, and take an activated role, to get involved in the world.

It could be that neither of these films wins the Oscar. Someone has said that Crazy Heart will win it. Jeff Bridges, I hope, will take the Oscar for best actor - more for as a sort of lifetime achievement award. AVATAR one hopes will get a very deserving award, but as was the case with Dark Knight in 2008, perhaps the Academy wants to make a very American statement, a feel good statement that says more about America's view of themselves rather than considering the impact cinema had in 2009 on the global audience.

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