Let’s revisit James Cameron’s 6 Oscar races before Avatar 2
A probability of going into the 2023 awards season is the JamesCameron will receive at least one Oscar nomination for Avatar: The Way of Water, the highly anticipated sequel to 2009’s Oscar-winning blockbuster Avatar. Critics have raved about the film ahead of its December 16 debut Bilge Ebiri from vulture to say it “might be James Cameron’s sweetest, softest, most personal film” and David Honest from IndieWire He calls it “easily one of the best theatrical experiences in ages.” In which categories is he nominated? There’s plenty to choose from, after all, as Cameron serves as the director, co-writer, co-producer and co-editor of the 20th Century Studios sequel. As he’s likely to be a key player in the upcoming awards season, let’s look back at James Cameron’s six previous Oscar wins, three for Titanic (1997) and three for Avatar (2009), and then discuss where he won stands for his latest three-hour blockbuster.
Some of Cameron’s previous films have been nominated for and won Oscars – Sigourney Weaver was famously nominated for Best Actress for Aliens, and both Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day took home Oscars for Best Visual Effects — but the award train didn’t race ahead of Cameron’s beloved box over the Office Success route, “Titanic,” which was an awards season juggernaut in early 1998. Cameron won Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards for Best Director, then went on to win both DGA and PGA. The film received 14 Academy Award nominations, tying the record with All About Eve (and later La La Land), and three of those nominations went to Cameron – editing, director and picture. Could he actually win all three? The signs were yes as “Titanic” was expected to sweep in almost every category that night.
As it turns out, “Titanic” won everything it was nominated for except for Best Actress Kate WinsletBest Supporting Actress for Gloria Stuart and Best Makeup, which eventually made Cameron a three-time Oscar winner in a single night. I would argue that the only prize he hasn’t had a ban on since has been film editing Peter HonestThe exquisite editing for “LA Confidential” was nominated in the same category, but no one wanted to beat Cameron for direction or picture, as the film was so acclaimed and popular that not even the critics’ darling “LA Confidential” could top it in anything but the Category Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger beat Stuart). Cameron, of course, had a few infamous moments in his many acceptance speeches that evening, at one point he yelled “I’m the king of the world!” to half-hearted applause and then later requested a minute’s silence for all those involved in the real Titanic disaster Lives came, only to be moments later screaming, “Now let’s party till dawn!”
After his three Oscar wins for Titanic, he seemed like a contender for his 12-year-later follow-up Avatar, especially after the film became a massive box-office hit, surpassing his own 1997 epic to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Everything seemed to reflect the Titanic awards show, especially at the Golden Globes in early 2010, when Cameron won best director and “Avatar” won best picture, with Cameron saying in one of his speeches, “I’ve gotta pee something heavy here.” Then the film managed a whopping nine Oscar nominations a few weeks later, with the same three for Cameron: editing, directing and picture.
However, two major differences prevented him from winning again this time. Firstly, Cameron had already won a bunch of Oscars so there was no scruple to give him more and secondly, Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Hurt Locker was an acclaimed war drama that was poised to win many trophies. Although the film missed out on the Golden Globes, en route to Oscar night, The Hurt Locker picked up many trophies, including Best Picture and Best Director at Critics Choice, along with six awards at BAFTA, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Script.
The momentum quickly shifted in favor of The Hurt Locker, and on Oscar night Cameron lost to Bigelow’s film in all three of its categories – The Hurt Locker winning Best Film Editing Bob Murawsky and Chris Ennis, Best Director for Bigelow and Best Picture. What made the directing category intriguing was that Bigelow was the first woman in Academy Awards history to win the award. Additionally, Bigelow and Cameron had a personal history together, the two being married from 1989 to 1991. As much as everyone viewed “Avatar” as an outstanding technical breakthrough, the performance of “The Hurt Locker” was both technically and emotionally special accolades that voters couldn’t ignore, and so Cameron went home empty-handed at the 2010 ceremony .
Thirteen years have passed since the release of the original Avatar, and now that Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters, it looks like James Cameron will be back for the 2023 Academy Awards. He may be nominated again for Best Editing, Best Director, Best Picture, and qualifies for Best Adapted Screenplay. The question is, can he win another gold trophy this time? Film critics seem to be on board. Perry Nemiroff von Collider calls the new sequel “pretty incredible” and Ian Sandwell from Digital Spy says, “It’s a visual masterpiece [with] an extraordinary final act full of emotions and gripping action.”
PREDICT the 2023 Oscar nominees through January 24
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