I read a rather interesting article in the Evening Standard on Friday that seemed to believe Avatar deserves to win Best Picture simply because it was seen by more people than The Hurt Locker. I'm not entirely sure of the logic behind this - how can a film be 'better' simply because it makes more money at the box office? What I think the author of the article fails to realise is that just because a film makes a lot at the box office, it doesn't actually mean that all of the people who went to see it actually liked it. Indeed, box office receipts certainly don't take note of how many people walk out before the film is even finished. Anyway, my basic point is that every person on the planet could go to see a film, but it doesn't necessarily follow that it's a better film than one seen by only eight farmers and a goat in the back of beyond.
The article went on to say that Avatar won't win because it's science fiction, which is a genre notorious for failing to pick up awards, and that the Academy will overlook it in favour of the typically 'highbrow' or intellectual fare also nominated. It's true that the Academy often goes for low-budget, obtuse movies that are 'challenging' as opposed to 'entertaining', but I don't think it's fair to apply this logic to Avatar vs The Hurt Locker. After all, The Hurt Locker is a taut thriller that just happens to have a political backdrop (not to mention a stellar performance from Jeremy Renner). If Avatar doesn't win, it won't be because it's science fiction - it's because it's just not as good as The Hurt Locker.
Similar logic was applied to the category of Best Director. According to the article, Kathryn Bigelow will only win because she would be the first woman to win the award, and would thus make the Academy look 'progressive'. Ignoring the inherent sexism of such a statement, could it not be possible that Bigelow might beat Cameron because The Hurt Locker was simply better directed than Avatar? Don't get me wrong, I grudgingly enjoyed Avatar, but it's hardly in the same league as The Hurt Locker.
I'm pretty much ignoring the other categories because the winners are either a foregone conclusion (Up will blatantly win Best Animated Film, despite the fact Pixar have done much better) or because I just don't care, although I do have one other win that I'm swinging for. I REALLY want Colin Firth to win Best Actor for his performance in A Single Man. It's not normally my kind of film, but something about the trailer really caught my attention (Tom Ford has done a wonderful job on his first film). I liked Colin Firth back in 1995 when he played Mr Darcy in the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice but I was somewhat disappointed in the intervening years to see him continually reprise the role. I'm not the biggest fan of one-trick ponies...but then I went to see A Single Man today with Nadia (author of the In The Mists blog) and I was both shocked and pleased to see that not only can he act, he can act very well! The range and depth of emotion he manages to convey whilst portraying a fairly uptight and emotionally repressed English professor is astonishing, and I would absolutely love it if the Academy could also recognise his talent.