Oscar campaigning took a dark turn earlier this week when it was revealed that [movie id="357580"]"The Hurt Locker"[/movie] producer Nicolas Chartier e-mailed a group of industry players in an appeal for Best Picture votes. And rather than touting the quality of the Kathryn Bigelow-directed, Oscar nomination-leading Iraq War story, Chartier based his plea on his film's indie roots, indirectly but quite obviously slamming [movie id="301495"]"Avatar"[/movie] in the process.
Chartier called for the e-mail's recipients to tell their "friends who vote for the Oscars," and to have them tell their friends, to support "The Hurt Locker" instead of "a $500M film," according to the Los Angeles Times. He went on to say that "we need independent movies to win," making no mention of Bigelow, star Jeremy Renner or any of the other people involved in making the film.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hasn't yet issued an official statement, but Chartier's breach of campaign rules likely triggered something, as an apology was issued yesterday. The producer called his comments "out of line and not in the spirit of the celebration of cinema that this acknowledgment is." He blames his "naivete, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity" for the transgression, identifying his original e-mail as "extremely inappropriate" and "something that the Academy disapproves of in the rules."
It's important to note that this is an unusual turn, not the norm for even the most heated Oscar race. Directors Bigelow and James Cameron ("Avatar"), who were once married, have been nothing but cordial about one another's 2009 efforts. There are a lot of opinions swirling around about who will win in this year's Best Picture and Best Director categories.
"I've worked with Kathryn over the years and I have been a huge proponent of her as the genius director that she is from 20 years ago," Cameron said in a recent interview with MTV News. His sentiment was the same late last year, following the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations. "I couldn't be happier to see her get a nomination because it's a recognition that's long overdue," he told MTV News, going on to refer to Bigelow as a "genius filmmaker."
Bigelow has been equally complimentary with regard to her ex-husband's record-breaking sci-fi epic. On Sunday, "The Hurt Locker" won six of the eight awards for which it was nominated at the annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, including Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Original Screenplay. Bigelow was quick to extinguish rumors of a rivalry between herself and Cameron, stating that she is "real honored" to share the Oscar spotlight with the "Avatar" director.