Entertainment behind the scenes
“Avatar” didn’t win the Oscar for best film, but it’s director James Cameron can take some solace in knowing that the name, Pandora, of the planet in his movie was judged the top Hollywood word, or HollyWord, of 2009 by the Global Language Monitor, which tracks such things.
Cameron’s fictional planet topped the words “Hurt Locker,” referring to the movie that did win best film, “The Hurt Locker;” Another Oscar movie, “Crazy Heart,” spawned the third most-popular HollyWord, Barley Pop, which was used in the film as a euphemism for beer.
Last year’s No. 1 HollyWord, “Jai Ho,” came from another Oscar winner, “Slumdog Millionaire.” Winners of past years include “High Five!!! It’s sexy time!” from the “Borat” movie and “Wardrobe Malfunction” from singer Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl costume problem.
There is little doubt in our mind that if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was filled with 10 ft. tall blue people with tails, that “Avatar” would have won the best motion picture Oscar on Sunday night.
But it’s not — perhaps sadly. “Avatar” and director James Cameron picked up three awards in technical categories: visual effects, art direction and cinematography. And for the highest grossing film of all time — $2.6 billion worldwide and counting — that seems like robbery. You can read about “Avatar” as an Oscar “loser” here. And there is no doubt, it lost. But did the Academy get it right?
Call it Oscar’s equivalent of hiring a really good Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon to nip a wrinkle here and tuck a chin there.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday said four of today’s hottest young actors and actresses — Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Miley Cyrus and Zac Efron — will be presenters at this year’s ceremony for the world’s top film honors on March 7.
Back in June, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it would expand its list of best film Oscar contenders to 10 from five, then Academy President Sid Ganis told reporters doing so would “cast our net wider, and it casting that net wider, who knows what will turn up.” (Read about that here). Essentially, what that meant was the Academy wanted more populist fare among its nominees after years of seeing its membership favor low-budget adult dramas over box office hits like Batman movie, “The Dark Knight.”
Why is that important? The Academy knows that nominating popular movies helps boost the audience size for the Oscar telecast. Last year, when “Slumdog Millionaire” was on a roll at box offices ($141 million), more than 38 million people tuned in to the Oscars compared with 32 million the previous year when gritty drama “No Country For Old Men” ($74 million) won best film.
So far , the movies with the biggest momentum behind them seem to be “Up in the Air”, with George Clooney, harrowing urban tale “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Quentin Tarantino’s summer box office hit war fantasy “Inglourious Basterds”, the much-talked about sci-fi epic “Avatar”, glittering musical “Nine”, Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” and British coming of age movie “An Education”.
Director James Cameron has made a lot of big-time films with big-time special effects: “Aliens,” “The Terminator” and that little movie called “Titanic,” but he told Reuters Television in an interview for “Avatar” day that nothing compares to the upcoming space adventure that will land in theaters December 18.
In promotional material, the 20th Century Fox film studio that is backing the movie describes it by saying: “Avatar takes us to a spectacular new world beyond our imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption, discovery and unexpected love as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization.”
It is fitting for director James Cameron that 20th Century Fox is pulling out all the stops to promote his new 3-D, effects-filled spectacle of a movie, “Avatar,” which will land in theaters on December 18. After all, Fox released Cameron’s “Titanic,” and 12 years after its release it continues to be the highest-grossing movie of all time with $1.8 billion in global ticket sales. Nothing else even comes close.
But Cameron hasn’t made a big-budget Hollywood flick since “Titanic,” so “Avatar” comes with some risk. To mitigate the possibilty of a big ol’ box office dud, Fox is promoting the heck out of “Avatar.” It was featured at the recent Comic-Con event in San Diego and on Monday, Fox said it is holding a worldwide “first look” day for “Avatar” anticipators on Friday, Aug. 21. That’s this coming Friday.