The Oscars are tonight, and the main event is an epic grudge-match smackdown between divorcees James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. A knockdown, dragout fight between giant blue people and men in funny green space-suits.
Actually, that would probably be a lot more interesting than the way it's going to play out.
Cameron and Bigelow are nominated for best director, and their films (Cameron: Avatar/Bigelow:The Hurt Locker, incase you aren't up to speed) are both nominated for best picture. Cameron's epic sci-fi fantasy versus Bigelow's gritty modern-war thriller. Can Bigelow pull the ultimate ex-wife stunt and be proclaimed better than her ex infront of the whole cinema-going world?
It is my unconsidered opinion that Bigelow will receive the best director award. She has crafted a gritty, topical and exciting film; AND she's a woman. The members of the Academy will want to show how forward thinking they are by "allowing" a lady to win the Oscar, irrespective of the merits of her film (of which there are many).
Working against Cameron is the thinking that it takes a greater effort to film in real (in The Hurt Locker's case, often dangerous) locations than on a soundstage in front of a blue-screen. Avatar's best picture chances will also be harmed by this, as a great many people in the industry may well still be untrusting of the motion-capture technology Cameron utilised to make the film, a stigma which led to Cameron having to make a case against Avatar being classed as an animated film.
This ground-breaking process could be seen as making Avatar an "important" movie to the industry, the environmental and liberal themes can be argued to make it worthy of Oscar glory, and Avatar has brought a lot of money into the multiplexes, whereas The Hurt Locker made about $2.30. It seems more likely, however, that the academy will vote for the film that they see as more "socially" important or politically pertinent or whatever, rather than the film which is important to the industry.
In summary, the smart money is on The Hurt Locker tonight. Not just for the above reasons, but also because it is a better film than Avatar. Might not be the best film of the year, but Bigelow can rest assured that her film has infinitely more spunky tension, better performances and less annoying blue people than her estranged ex's magnificent octopus.