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The Oscar Nominations as an Indication of 3D's Future

Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 5:04 PM

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As you may have noticed, the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning (we have the list of nominations sorted by movie and by category for your reading pleasure), and something about the movies that were nominated struck me as it relates to 3D.

Avatar movie poster

Avatar set the standard for 3D

Whenever anyone talks about 3D in recent movie history, Avatar 3D is the movie that everyone talks about. James Cameron spent years of his life on making the best example of 3D to hit movie theaters in recent times, and quite possibly all times. The movie was a hit with audiences, and it garnered nine Oscar nominations, and won three of them (for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects). The fact that the story was a re-hashing of similar storylines in Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas wasn't a big deal, mostly because 3D was used as part of the art, and the storyline was good enough to supply the structure needed for Cameron to paint the visual canvas for nearly three hours. Romantic movies (usually romantic comedies, but also some romantic dramas) are often re-hashes of familiar storylines, and the enjoyment comes more from the telling of the story through the chemistry between the actors and/or the settings.

So, how does that relate to this year's crop of nominees?

Let's take the categories that Avatar won Oscars for last year: Art Direction, Cinematography, and Visual Effects.

Alice in Wonderland posterOf this year's nominees in those three categories, only one (Alice in Wonderland) was presented in 3D in movie theaters. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 was due to be released in 3D theaters, but those plans were scrapped by Warner Bros. a month before its release, presumably due to dissatisfaction with the results they were getting and the lack of time to do the 3D conversion properly. Both of these 3D releases were conversions from 2D, and not a result of an intention from the beginning to make a 3D movie (Avatar was a 3D movie from the beginning).

What this can tell us is that the members of the Academy did not recognize the merits of the movies released in 3D this year when it comes to the artistic characteristics represented in those categories.

Let's look at the nominees from the perspective of acting performances. If we look at the 14 movies that had nominations for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress, none of them were presented in 3D.

Lastly, let's look at it from the two remaining categories that measure the quality of the movie's building blocks: Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay. Basically, was the story any good? A total of ten movies were nominated, and only one of them was presented in 3D (Toy Story 3 in Disney Digital 3D).

The miserable showing by 3D movies in the list of nominees is tempered only by the fact that Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon were nominated for "Best Animated Feature Film" and Toy Story 3 also received a nomination for Best Picture (but probably has little chance of winning in that category).

What this information tells me is that, while 3D can enhance the movie-going experience, it is still more of a gimmick meant to draw audiences into theaters, and pay a 3D upcharge in the process. Perhaps, the passage of time will allow studios to invest additional effort into 3D moviemaking from the beginning, and we'll see something that approaches or even eclipses Avatar's achievements.

What do you think?

Leave your comments below and let us know your thoughts!

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Please Note: These comments are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Jan 28, 2011 - BigScreen Reader  

3D is interesting and fun when it's done well, but it's not cricitcally important to the enjoyment of a movie. I'm glad they didn't screw up Deathly Hallows by doing a rush-job 3D conversion.

Is Sanctum also a conversion or was it filmed in 3D? 

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