Taking home the awards in the smaller categories are consolation enough for some people, but that is not the target of James Cameron. The director notoriously lost out to ex-partner Kathryn Bigelow for her feature The Hurt Locker. Instead seeing the 2009 epic Avatar rake in $2.7b at the box office and winning Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction.
Perhaps the filmmaker is still seething from that call, as the 62-year old went on the offensive to slam the Oscars for continuing to overlook the major blockbusters that do well commercially. Bringing out a National Geographic documentary Atlantis Rising while juggling an Avatar sequel and producing a reboot of The Terminator, Cameron believes there is a certain amount of snobbery attached to the Academy that doesn't reflect well on them as a collective body.
Oscars Attempt To Dictate Viewing Patterns: Cameron
While Cameron sees the general viewership moving one way at the box office, he thinks the Academy intentionally attempt to pull people into another direction that runs contrary to popular opinion.
“There have been a few times throughout the history of the Oscars where a wildly popular film was well-received, but your typical year the Academy takes the position of: ‘It is our patrician duty to tell the great unwashed what they should be watching,’ and they don’t reward the films that people really want to see—that they’re paying money to go see—and they’re telling them, ‘Yeah, you think you like that, but what you should be liking is this,’ argued the director. "And as long as the Academy sees that as their duty, don’t expect high ratings. Expect a good show, and do that duty, but don’t whine about your ratings. Titanic was a very unusual case. I’m not saying it’s a better film than films before or after, or it was necessarily a better year in general, but it was a film that made a boatload of money and got a lot of nominations. The next time we see that, we’ll see ratings go up. It’s that simple.”
CGI and Tech Is Not The Oscars Cup of Tea
Going above and beyond with his projects like Avatar that utilize a ton of cutting edge technology, the director thinks the Academy choose not to appreciate how that is inclusive to a bigger story, writing these pictures off as CGI flicks and nothing more.
“There’s definitely a bias," he stated. "The Academy still has a majority of its members that are actors. Look, I love actors, but that’s how they think—they’re generally skeptical of technology. So when they see a film that’s too dependent on visual effects, they say, oh, that’s not an acting movie. Well Titanic was a visual effects movie in sheep’s clothing, you know? Yes, it had visual effects, but it was about the people and about the story. The visual effects were eclipsed by that. But if you do a movie like Avatar, the effects are right out front, and even though I felt the acting was just as good, and the story we were telling was just as good, they’re not going to reward it the same way. That’s just a fact of life."
Drawing a line in the sand at one point in his career, Cameron said that the spectacle of cinema was always his number one priority.
"I had made a decision way before Titanic that I wasn’t going to serve two masters: I was going to put my visual cinema first. Even though I’ve spent an awful lot of time on scripts and on performance, I still love doing big, visual cinema. I doubt I’ll even get nominated again, but if I did, I’m probably going to lose to a Woody Allen movie. That’s the nature of it. So you don’t try to serve two masters.”