A pair of wins for Best Picture and Best Director provide the first hard evidence that the sheer scope of the movie’s success just might stop The Hurt Locker in its tracks. For more of the evening, the mood in the pressroom has been bored - lots of ‘What are you wearing?’ questions. Some journalists are already packing up when a triumphant Cameron walks in, his cast in tow.
'I would ask not to be humble,’ the first questioner begins. No problem. Cameron quickly advances what amounts to a three-pronged case for why Avatar should win the Oscar. Ebulliently, he muses that the film’s technological leaps could 'give permission to other film-makers’ to take 3D out of the ghettos of 'high-end animation and lowbrow live-action;’ he points out that the movie, which he envisioned as a 'shameless engine of commerce’, is only the second sci-fi film to take this prize. And he notes that it’s very interesting that a major Hollywood commercial film is in some way controversial theme or some of the political themes.'
And then, he goes too far. He keeps talking. And he does the one thing that no winner should ever do in a roomful of journalists; he disses Meryl Streep.
A reporter asks him why Avatar’s motion-capture perfomances haven’t received more respect from actors.
'I’m going to give you an example,’ Cameron says, clearly recalling the encounter I witnessed with the actress after the Critics’ Choice Awards.
'I had always wanted to meet her - and I was talking about the perfomance-capture stuff and I was mentioning how all the actors love doing it. And she said, “Oh, yes, I know. I had such a great time doing Fantastic Mr.Fox.”
I thought: “Oh, my, god, this is a perfect example of what’s wrong!” She didn’t perform the character physically over a period of months. She did a voice perfomance maybe for a day, maybe for two days, on a lectern!“
From far away, I can feel Fox executives emitting psychic beams: 'Stop talking now.’
'It’s almost like Asperger’s with him,’ a producer tells me later. "How many years has it taken him to live down "I’m the King of the World!”? When he shifts into that mode of talking about how great his movies are and how other people just don’t get it, he is literally incapable of understanding how he sounds. And I say that as a fan! He makes it incredibly hard to vote for him.’