it all began this morning, when i woke up still excited about the results of last night's golden globes. almost everything went the way i wanted it to: avatar, the hangover, sandra bullock, RDJ, and glee all won the categories i wanted them to win (though i still maintain that jane lynch was robbed). then i went online and saw all the bitter facebook statuses, tweets, and LJ entries that said something along the lines of "HOLLYWOOD IS CORRUPT, MOVIEGOERS ARE STUPID, AND I CAN MAKE A BETTER MOVIE THAN JAMES CAMERON BECAUSE HE'S A GREEDY, ARROGANT DOUCHE." my good mood promptly evaporated, leaving me in the state of irritation that is now compelling me to write this post.
am i the only one who thinks the backlash is ridiculous? i mean, yeah, every award-winning movie always inspires rage in a handful of people, but i feel like half the world's population has turned their nose up at anyone who has positive things to say about avatar. i don't understand why people dislike it so much. save for up in the air (which i've been told didn't stand a chance at winning, anyway), i've seen the rest of the films nominated for best drama, and while they were all excellent, i BY FAR enjoyed avatar the most. i'm aware that it isn't the best script ever written -- i've read hundreds of screenplays and spent the last half year learning how to rip apart a flawed script, so at the risk of sounding just as pretentious as the assholes i'm complaining about, i don't think i need that pointed out to me. it's far from the worst ever written, though. the plot and characters may be predictable, straightforward, and oversimplified, but they're solid and well-loved enough. i don't know anything about acting, so i can't comment in that department, though i do think the leads (especially zoe saldana) all held their own.
avatar isn't about all of that, though. it's a testament to the accomplishments of the modern film industry. it aims to give moviegoers a thrilling, unparalleled experience, to immerse them in someone else's (very impressive) imagination without moving them out of their seats. avatar's originality lies not in the way it portrays and complicates real life, but in the unique, unnervingly realistic world it shapes out of nothing. my mom, who hasn't gone to a movie theatre in three years and almost never likes american movies, saw avatar in imax 3d and, after it was over, refused to get out of her seat because she didn't want to go back the dreariness of real life. i felt the same way the first time i saw it, and the feeling only grew stronger after i saw it the second time. avatar is not just about the stunning visual effects or the breathtaking cinematography, which seems to be the popular argument ("so what if it's pretty? give it best special effects and leave it at that"). it's about james cameron's extraordinary vision and his team's ability to bring it to life with such care and precision. this film took four years to put together, and it shows. it's not a masterpiece by any means, but in 20 years, it's the one film that will come to most people's minds when they think back to this year's crop of awards films. titanic was mediocre in many ways, but it was epic in many more ways, and that's why people still consider it a cinematical landmark today. seriously, who remembers all the movies it was up against? (don't answer that if you're a film junkie.)
my main argument is that a film does not have to be edgy and different to be good. this belief seems to be at the heart of the holier-than-thou attitude that a lot of people seem to have adopted in their film critiques in recent years. i love a gritty independent film as much as the next person, but i can also appreciate pure entertainment for what it is. that's what the cinema has always been about, and i think the people who have lost that notion of fun are the ones taking the avatar craze so seriously. we're in the postmodern era, where nothing is new anymore -- i don't think message alone should be our main concern. if avatar entertained enough people to become the second highest grossing film of all time in less than a month, that should count for something -- at the very least, an award or two.