Golden Globes Live Blog: Cameron on how his movie is -- and isn’t -- political


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8:46 p.m.: So the stage is now really set for the ‘Avatar’-’Up in the Air’ battle (interesting note: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner didn’t make their way backstage after their win for best screenplay). And so the interesting question now is not so much why or how ‘Avatar’ won two major Golden Globes but how the speeches and interviews in the name of that win will or won’t ease the film’s way into the hearts of Oscar voters.

We’re usually a little jaded when it comes to those backstage interviews, especially when Mark McGwire’s entire cache of steroids may not be enough to ease the pain in our fingers and back. Yet we couldn’t help being impressed by Cameron’s performance, which was thoughtful and persuasive (if Cameron-ically earnest).


Responding, for instance, to a question about motion-capture, he cited an interchange he had with Meryl Streep in which she compared performance-capture to her voice work in ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ -- and he gently pointed out the difference. It’s a ‘perfect example of what’s wrong,’ he said. ‘That was a vocal performance that was then’s a completely different deal. Everything [that the avatars in the movie] do is determined by the actors,’ he said, calling out the ‘physical performance’ over a period of months. ‘There’s a bit of a learning curve for the acting community to really understand what we did,’ he said.

Then the really tough one -- politics -- came up. We first thought he was trying to split the atom a little too fine in saying his film was about the military but not really about the military. But then he pulled it off -- and, in so doing, continued to establish his film as a serious movie that voters don’t have to feel guilty voting for.

‘We’ve been criticized for being anti-military, and I think we need to clarify something. [The film is] anti-the inappropriate use of military force. Our main character is a former Marine and everything about him celebrates the Marine Corps and their core value system. He’s a hero.’

But then he went to:

‘Do I personally believe there has been inappropriate use of the military in our history? I believe in a strong defense...but we also have to open our eyes. We also have to look at when leaders decide to put soldiers on the ground for the wrong reasons.’

Then he wrapped up on a more nonpartisan, kumbaya note: ‘I do think it’s interesting you’ve got this big commercial film and yet it has these controversial conversations (that go along with it). And I’m happy to have those conversations.’
Speaking of wrapping up, we’re now off to a party or two, where hopefully Mr. McGwire will be waiting with some salvation. More from those events later.

-- Steven Zeitchik