The most compelling narrative in this year's Oscar race is the battle
between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Both films have nine nominations
and the directors, James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, were
formerly married. Critics have cast the films as polar opposites:Avatar, the $500 million special-effects monstrosity versus Hurt Locker, a low-budget indie war flick. But have critics got it all wrong? Joe Morgenstren
at The Wall Street Journal says the films aren't as different as one might think:
Despite its proudly independent roots, "The Hurt Locker" is a
heartening throwback to the golden age of Hollywood, when studio films
could aspire to such lean and disciplined excellence, and occasionally
achieve it. Despite its astronomical budget and studio affiliations,
"Avatar" is an indie film in the sense that the man who made it
operates by his own rules. Aspiration is the common denominator of both
productions. Mr. Cameron has been outspoken, as is his custom, in
promising to transform the experience of watching movies in theaters,
but damned if he didn't do it; against all odds, "Avatar" has lived up
to its ballyhoo. Ms. Bigelow was no less ambitious, though she kept her
intentions to herself. She simply took off for the Middle East and shot
an exemplary feature that went into distribution ballyhooless, then
earned richly deserved adulation on its own.
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