ByElise Jost, writer at
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Elise Jost

With a selection of few movies, the are bound to leave people disappointed every year, whether you explain it with a theory that the awards are elaborately rigged and only based on the money and publicity provided by the contenders, or you believe that the Academy is simply an overtly traditional organization that doesn't like to step too far outside of its comfort zone.

But if you ask , legendary director of blockbuster classics from Titanic to Avatar, there's one category in particular that's been unjustly excluded from the Academy's consideration — you guessed it, blockbusters. In a lengthy interview with the Daily Beast, Cameron touched on a number of timely subjects, from the Trump administration to his own opinion of how much space exactly there was on that door, and he showed that he had little respect for the Oscars selection.

'They Don't Reward The Films That People Really Want To See'

Asked why he thought the ratings of the Oscars ceremony had been going down in the past few years, Cameron didn't hold back: To him, people are turning away from the Oscars because the awards don't reflect what moviegoers actually like:

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.' 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.

Or maybe the job of the Oscars isn't that of the People's Choice Awards? Maybe he hasn't heard of the latter, because he seems to believe that the Oscars can only hope to become relevant again when they reflect box office successes.

"'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."

See also:

James Cameron Thinks Visual Effects Are Underrated

The reason so few blockbusters make it into the Academy's selection, according to Cameron, is because there's a bias against visual effects in the minds of the jury:

"There's definitely a bias. 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."

If the effects are too obvious, well, no matter how good your movie is, it's going to be ignored:

"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."

'Avatar' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
'Avatar' [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

Never mind the fact that there's a visual effects category at the Oscars, or that visual feast Mad Max: Fury Road took home 6 Academy Awards in 2016.

"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."

Do visual cinema and great performances really have to be two separate things? Seems to me like old James is shooting himself in the foot here.


Do you feel like the Oscars should reflect the box office more?

(Source: The Daily Beast)


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