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'Avatar': Best Picture?
Can James Cameron’s blue movie defeat its closest competition — "The Hurt Locker," an Iraq drama directed by his ex-wife?
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en movies are vying for Best Picture at this year's Oscars, but critics say the battle comes down to two: James Cameron's strongly favored "Avatar" — a phenomenon that's earned $2 billion — and Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker," a sleeper Iraq drama which has grossed just $16 million. It's a "classic David versus Goliath fight," says the Los Angeles Times. With a twist: Bigelow used to be married to Cameron. Despite the potential for manufactured off-screen drama, is "Avatar" a shoo-in? (Watch a report about "Avatar"'s Best Picture chances)

YES

Avatar is unforgettably immersive: "I can't remember a movie that did a better job picking me up and immersing me in a new universe," says Chris Vognar in The Dallas Morning News. "Avatar" is one of those "revolutionary" pictures that "really open our eyes and make us stand at attention."

Vice-Presidents like it! "I predict 'Avatar' will win," says Vice President Joe Biden to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "The magic of it is overwhelming."

The Oscars need to co-opt the populist appeal of "Avatar": It may not deserve it, but "Avatar" will win, says Peter Bradshaw in Britain's The Guardian. The Oscars need it to. Not only will it "reconnect" the Academy Awards with the public, it will "boost ratings, and make everyone involved feel that much more powerful and glamorous."

NO

The odds are against a "Titanic"-like sweep: Doubtful, says James Cameron, as quoted in Empire Magazine, when asked about his chances of repeating his 1997 Oscar haul for "Titanic." "I always believe it's very unlikely that lightning will strike twice."

Without acting or screenplay noms, how can "Avatar" be "best"? "Avatar" may have received nine Oscar nominations, says Andre Soares at Alt Film Guide, but "not for best screenplay," nor in all "four acting categories." The last time such a film won Best Picture was 1932. "Think twice before betting" on "Avatar."

'Avatar' backlash will set in: "Avatar" is the Hollywood equivalent of the New York Yankees, says Dre Rivas at Film.com. It has a "massive fan base," it has "all the money," and "the premium technology." Inevitably, people will be "rooting for" the underdog. And "The Hurt Locker" is a "damn fine movie."

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