"The Hurt Locker" took home the top two Academy Awards Sunday night, for best picture and for Kathryn Bigelow as best director.
But while the film, which follows the dangerous daily existence of an Army bomb defusal team, was a critical favorite, not every regular moviegoer agrees. The New York Times reports "The Hurt Locker" was one of the least-seen contenders in the best picture category ever.
It was a victory for a small, critically acclaimed picture over a sci-fi 3-D blockbuster that now holds the world record for box-office receipts. "Avatar" has pulled in more than $700 million so far, compared to $12 million for "The Hurt Locker." Or, as film critic Roger Ebert tweeted Sunday, "Shortest Oscar story in history: ( ! > $ )"
Critical raves aside, some msnbc.com readers felt that the “The Hurt Locker” didn't represent the choice of the average moviegoer.
"I hardly heard of ('The Hurt Locker'), but I guess popular with the people is not a factor," wrote one on an msnbc.com online discussion board.
Wrote another, "('Hurt Locker') was basically a documentary. 'Avatar' was a wholly imagined world with extraordinary detail and stunning visuals. 'Avatar' deserved to win."
Some thought that sheer attendance numbers displayed that the academy got the choice wrong. One reader wrote, "'Avatar' was by far the best. The actual moviegoers voted with their feet. Too much Hollywood politics."
And yet another saw bias in the choice of "Hurt Locker," the only film directed by a woman. "They wanted to give it to a woman for a change," wrote the reader.
Others blamed an alleged bias against "Avatar" director James Cameron (Bigelow's ex-husband), writing, "I don't think Cameron is very popular in Hollywood."
Bigelow herself would not allow anyone to draw her into any Cameron-bashing. Backstage after her win, reporters repeatedly tried to coax her to dish on her ex, but she was abidingly diplomatic. "I think he's an extraordinary filmmaker," she said when asked what it was like to beat him.
Defending ‘Hurt Locker’Yet "Hurt Locker's" fans felt that the right film was honored. Wrote one, "Anybody who thinks 'Avatar' should have won needs their head examined. Best Picture goes to the best film, not the most popular."
Chimed another, "('Hurt Locker') was about people, not special effects."
Another moviegoer wrote, " 'Hurt Locker' was about REAL life, 'Avatar' was overblown production fantasy."
And another reader commented "('Hurt Locker' was) by far the best film of the year, regardless of how few people saw it in theaters. It was a riveting film."
Box-office receipts should not determine an Oscar win, contended some, with one reader writing, "'Gigli' made more money than did 'The Hurt Locker.' Does that mean it is more deserving of the Oscar for best picture? Get real!"
Some felt "Avatar" was patently undeserving, with one reader writing, " 'Avatar' was an animated half-cartoon movie with no discernible message."
Many of those who did not get a chance to see the big Oscar winner in theaters could catch up at home. "The Hurt Locker" was released on DVD on Jan. 12, while many other best-picture nominees, including "Avatar," are still not yet available for home viewing.
Cameron told The Wall Street Journal that "Avatar" will be released on DVD April 22, though it's unclear when it will be available for home viewing in 3-D, or how many viewers would be able to take advantage of a 3-D release.