It’s the top-grossing film of all time, and, extraordinarily, it’s not even that bad! Here’s a list of reasons why, even though the Academy probably won’t give it the Best Picture nod, Avatar deserves it.
It rewrote the rulebook. It used to be thought that you couldn’t shoot a non-animated movie in 3D. Now you can. It also used to be thought that to be nominated for Best Picture, you needed a non-ridiculous plot. Well, as the absurdly over-the-top army guy might say: “Hey, preconceptions about the movie business, Pandora’ll shit you out dead with zero warning.”
Did I mention it’s in 3D? In the old days, 3D used to be associated with cheap schlock like Creature From The Black Lagoon and Jaws 3D. Now, thanks to Avatar, it’s associated with ridiculously expensive digital schlock.
It has spawned a whole new community of nerds. Trekkies and Star Wars junkies are just so, last millennium, you know? Check out avatar-forums.com for an avalanche of useless information, such as a guide to learning the Na’vi language, and of course a detailed FAQ explaining how sex works between two fictional, digitised blue creatures. There are also some hilarious and touching discussions of exactly how much the members would like to become a Na’vi in “real life”. Most troubling of all, it appears that alongside “Neytiri”, “depression” is the most searched-for term.
It made breakthroughs in the key area of 3D boobies. James Cameron was happy to admit to Playboy that he spent a lot of time ensuring that Neytiri had the perfect computer generated cleavage, even though “that makes no sense because her race, the Na’vi, aren’t placental mammals”. See previous item about spawning a new community of nerds.
It created a new religion. Forget people putting Jedi on their census forms – from here, dorks will be bowing down before Eywa. Hippies too, I expect, given how much those scenes where they all danced in front of the Tree of Souls looked exactly like a psytrance rave. We’re all connected, man – I see you. Although it might just be the mushrooms I just ate.
Sam Worthington’s an Aussie! Again, Sam Worthington’s an Aussie!
It saved us from having a funny Oscars. Sasha Baron Cohen, playing Bruno, planned to come out as a Na’vi woman and tell James Cameron he was pregnant with his lovechild. But the Academy were worried about offending the maestro, so Bruno was axed. Instead we had Alec Baldwin as host, and Steve Martin, who may not be as funny as he used to be, but is now really, really good at the banjo. (To be fair, thanks to Ben Stiller, Avatar just paid us back a little.)
We all learned something. You probably thought Avatar was just an awesomely fun popcorn movie, right? Well, here’s where I blow your mind. What if – what if – ‘unobtainium’ is like oil, and Pandora is like Iraq? Whoa, see what I just did there? The message was so subtle that you probably missed it in the cinema, right? Let me do it again. Has it occurred to you that the Sky People are like European settlers, and the Na’vi are like native Americans? Amazing, huh? Instead of destroying Hometree, the Sky People should have let them turn it into a casino.
Bring on Avatar 2, I say. Can’t wait to see what awesome technological advances James Cameron has planned for Zoe Saldana’s digital breasts.