After Avatar, movies will never be the same again

In a miracle of brains over brawn, Kathryn Bigelow has just become the first woman to win best director for her film The Hurt Locker, beating her ex-husband’s behemoth, Avatar. Bigelow’s unprecedented success at the Directors’ Guild of America Awards, which often predict the Oscar results, is a sign that cinema is in a thrilling state of flux.

How counter-intuitive that Bigelow’s tense, minimalist Iraq war film should outdo James Cameron’s maximalist 3-D blue aliens, especially when only seven female directors have even been nominated in the 62 years of the awards. Yet Bigelow’s win, and Cameron’s rethink of the entire business of film-making, are both first blasts in a revolution. (And possibly an explanation of their divorce — just too much excitement for one household.)

As one big British movie honcho said last week: “After Avatar, film will never be the same again.” It’s not merely that aliens pulled in a box office take of nearly $2 billion worldwide, submerging Titanic as the biggest grossing film; it’s that Avatar was so retina-ravishing (despite leaden dialogue) that viewers will expect that same excitement for their tenner every time. No longer will flaccid rom-coms or chipmunk squeakquels make the grade. The moviegoer wants not merely action, but interaction.



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