Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Nominee #4 - Avatar (2009)
A paraplegic marine is sent on a mission to the beautiful moon, Pandora. He finds a true home on this world and is conflicted between protecting this and following his orders.
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Sci-fi fantasy on steroids. Director, James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) simply took every respected sci-fi benchmark on its knees and broke it.
It’s the year 2154. Humans want to colonise the planet, Pandora for its rich minerals, but the native peace-loving Na’vi tribe on Pandora find an unlikely freedom fighter who will fight in their corner - a human.
Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana star in one of the most visually-compelling on-screen stories ever.
An entire universe of magic and wonder
The first movie to cross $1b revenue within 19 days of release, the first to gross over $2b worldwide and it won several Academy Awards (Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects) and Golden Globe Awards (Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Director). Cameron crafted an entirely new Na’vi language and dialect and created an entirely new ecosystem of alien planet birds, plants, animals and terrain, and most importantly, an entirely believable alien race in the gentle, gigantic, blue-skinned Na’vi. An entire universe of magic and wonder that even at its most visually breathtaking, remained subject to the story and its telling.
Behind the extraordinary, ground-breaking visual effects, there is a clearly articulated message to treasure our ecosystem and avoid war at all cost. The wisdom of the Na’vi in the way they respect their environment is contrasted by the brutal ‘might is right’ approach of the human invaders.
A wonderfully effective and endearing characterisation is that of the paraplegic soldier, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who in his avatar state can walk – indeed soar (on the back of flying dragons!). With the promise of surgery to set him right, he befriends the Na’vi with the intention of passing on intel to the marauding human army. But as he gets to understand the Na’vi (and fall in love with Neytiri, a female Na’vi), he must make a choice and it is this allegiance that proves decisive for Sully, Neytiri, the tribe and the humans.
Action, adventure, mythology, romance, stunning special effects (and floating mountains in the sky!) – this epic with a conscience has it all. Cameron successfully married pioneering technology with a vision and imagination on a scale unprecedented. No wonder the movie remained the highest-grossing film worldwide for almost a decade, before being surpassed by Avengers: Endgame in 2019.