So if Avatar wins Best Picture a week from when this post goes live...
Well, not only will it be wrong on its own terms, but it will demean Titanic. Which is really everything that Avatar was not. Three hours, but oh, does it move. None of the toe-tapping of Avatar. When I turned to Titanic at around 12:28 AM, I was utterly rapt for the next 40 minutes; couldn't go for the dental floss until the movie was over at 1:32. Serious minded, but with a constant twinkle in its eye. Oh, the bad husband character played by Billy Zane is a bit of an unwanted buffoon, but there's a subtle pleasure to David Warner's performance as the valet that gives compensation. Kathy Bates is a joy, Gloria Stuart is a wonder, the music by James Horner is such a delight. No, the special effects aren't as good. The artificially inserted air vapor looks weird and artificial. But it has the biggest effect of all, which is real heart. It's like the song says, "my heart will go on." If there's a cliche, like "guy drops keys to lock, Jack must dive down, get key ring, find right key before he and Rose drown," you don't mind because your heart is in it. When Sam Worthington proclaims "at first, it was just a job, and then it became love," it's just a boring cliche in a boring movie.
It was a wonder to watch this unfold on the mammoth screen of my beloved Loews Astor Plaza, now 5 1/2 years gone but it will live in my memory forever, and Titanic is that kind of movie. Avatar doesn't hold a candle to it, it's not even a little teeny tiny Hanukkah candle against the brilliant lustre of Titanic.
So please, let's not have an Oscar for Avatar sitting on James Cameron's shelf next to the one for Titanic.