Monday, March 8, 2010

When an Underdog Trumped a Blockbuster

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 7 2010 will go down in the history books of avid moviegoers... not for the right reasons, but for the wrong ones. It will be remembered as the day when Avatar played second fiddle to The Hurt Locker in the two most prestigious categories of the Academy Awards (Oscars), that are the ‘Best Motion Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ categories.

Although I have to concede that I haven’t watched The Hurt Locker as of yet, but the general rule of thumb in the entertainment industry is that the more a movie grosses from its box-office shows, the better it is in the eyes of the public. Therefore, the greater its chances of winning the Oscars.

However, The Hurt Locker has till now garnered a puny 25 million or so US Dollars, which makes it the lowest grossing film in modern history to nick the prestigious best movie award.

Avatar, on the other hand, is in a class of its own, with profits that have spiralled above the $2 billion benchmark. It is the highest grossing film of all time too, and this loss has raised a lot of eyebrows regarding the award system that is implemented at the Oscars.

As the Time Magazine had pointed out in the run-up to the Oscars, at the very least, a split decision was to be expected. This meant that if Avatar won the best picture accolade, then The Hurt Locker would register the best director award, and vice versa. There is a logic there, as it seems so unfair for Avatar just walk away empty handed.

In an analysis done by Reuters, it noted that The Hurt Locket played on 535 screens worldwide at its peak, whilst Avatar has played at probably ten thousand cinemas at every nook and corner of the world, and that too for more than three months running. Not only that, but The Hurt Locker cost a paltry $11 million to make, whilst Avatar’s budget was some 20 times higher – at $230 million.

Interestingly, The Hurt Locker’s reputation was enhanced by the fact that it won many smaller awards that preceded the Oscars. It won numerous honours in the BAFTA, Producers Guild and the National Society of Film Critics awards among others. Sounds familiar? Well, this was the same case for Slumdog Millionaire, if you can recall.

Slumdog Millionaire was an unknown quantity to the world before it suddenly shot to fame after winning numerous awards that culminated with the Oscars. However, back then, Slumdog Millionaire wasn’t up against a heavyweight. Definitely not against a heavyweight like Avatar, which is the case here for The Hurt Locker.

The greatness of Avatar cannot be justified by merely picking up awards for the best Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects, but the sure thing here is that for a movie to top Avatar in such a devastating fashion, then that movie has got to be good. And I mean really good! Hence, I shall go watch The Hurt Locker sometime soon, and see for myself what this fuss is all about.

Who do you reckon deserved the top honours? Is there a flaw in choosing the winners of the Oscar Awards? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
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