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“How would you feel if Star Trek were nominated for an Oscar?”

The question from one of my coworkers is not nearly so ludicrous as it once would have been. To be fair to Trek, that’s partially because the new movie is more award-friendly than the series once was. But, mostly, it’s because of the change this year to the Academy Awards.

I can’t imagine there being any possibility Star Trek would have gotten one of the five slots traditionally available. But with the ten Best Picture nominee slots this year? Well, it’s still unlikely, but there’s at least talk it might happen.

My answer to the question, though, is that while I might think it was kind of cool, I woulddn’t take it seriously. Star Trek would simply be one of the “other five,” the five movies that normally wouldn’t have made it but get charity nominations this year. There’s speculation that the extra spots will go to crowd-pleasing films in hopes of boosting the ratings for the Oscar ceremony, and a Trek nomination would certainly seem to support that.

The movie that will play out for most interestingly this year, in my mind, will be Avatar. I thought Avatar was pretty, and could very easily have long-term implications for the film industry. (Or, arguably, the movie industry, since part of its implication is that it makes the term “film” increasingly quaint.) At the same time, I found it a little shallow. Cameron’s last effort, the Oscar-winning Titanic, became a cultural touchstone, with Jack and Rose resonating as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet or Rhett and Scarlett. I would rather like to hope that Avatar does not become a similar touchstone. If people are making references to Avatar characters or concepts a year from now, I’ll be a little disappointed.

Last year, I would have assumed the first half of the argument won out; that the movie’s groundbreaking nature won it a place among the nominees. I don’t know if I would have agreed with the recognition or not, but I certainly wouldn’t have disagreed any more than I have with other past nominees.

This year, if Avatar is nominated, I very well may be inclined to see it as one of the “other five,” nominated not because of its merit but for its popularity.

Of course, what’s going to make things really interesting is when one of the “other five” wins Best Picture.

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