Senior Editor
02.05.10 28 Comments

In between rounds of patting themselves on the back, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time, getting sucked off by critics, and driving nerds to suicide, James Cameron and the producers of Avatar apparently found time to whine that none of their actors got nominated for Academy Awards.

“People confuse what we have done with animation,” director James Cameron said at the recent Producers Guild Awards.  “It’s nothing like animation. The creator here is the actor, not the unseen hand of an animator.”

The Oscars snub is “a disappointment,” said producer Jon Landau, “but I blame ourselves for not educating people in the right way.” Landau explained that they needed to make clear that the system they used represents a new way to use “motion capture” photography, or as Landau puts it, “emotion capture.” [*facepaw*] “We made a commitment to our actors that what they would see up on the screen were their performances,” Landau said, “not somebody else’s interpretation of what their performance might be.”

The issue of what makes an actor an actor first surfaced when Andy Serkis did Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings,” but skepticism remains over whether it is the same as live-action acting.
“What an actor is doing when acting is not just looking like something but expressing something going on inside,” says James Lipton, host of Bravo’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” “I’m not sure that motion capture, while it captures the flicker of an eyebrow, the twist of a mouth, a gesture of a hand, equally captures emotion.”

Film professor Richard Brown [hehe, “dick brown”] doesn’t agree. “This is very much the first film of the 21st century,” Brown said. “What we need to do is expand our concept of what the word actor means. It’s unfair to take performances as good as these and not designate them as actors.” [THR]

I’d love to weigh in on this, but seeing as how I just awarded my Japanese sex robot a coffee mug that says “World’s Greatest Sexbot,” I might be a little biased.  I also think a guy playing an American who still has an Australian accent maybe doesn’t deserve consideration for acting’s highest honor.  But what do I know, I’m just a guy who loves sexbots.

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