Over a decade ago James Cameron was battling media reports that his delayed and pricey epic "Titanic" was a creative disaster and ready to sink at the box office like the famed ocean liner whose story it dramatically re-told.  Instead, the Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox production became a cultural phenomenon and grossed over $1.8 billion worldwide and won a staggering 11 Academy Awards including the prestigious Best Picture trophy.  In less than two weeks, Cameron returns to the big screen with his almost as hyped Sci-Fi motion capture adventure "Avatar." The film has sparked heated debate among genre fans and everyday moviegoers as well as finding itself under the microscope of the testy entertainment media.  Factoring in the substantial negative responses to the IMAX and Comic-Con previews, many in the industry were coming to the conclusion that "Avatar" would be a nice hit (i.e., $200 million plus in the U.S.) at best thanks to some nicely cut TV spots. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who expected the picture to stand alongside the critical favorites of Cameron's previous work.  Boy can things change after one screening in Hollywood.  No one who has seen the film is allowed to go on record [and this writer has not seen the film himself], but word has leaked that Fox's gamble may have paid off and "Avatar" may be way more than meets the eye.

After a screening yesterday morning, very reliable sources have told Awards Campaign that the HFPA were incredibly positive about Cameron's latest endeavor.  In fact, it's now very likely to be nominated in both the Best Picture - Drama and Best Director categories when the Golden Globe nominations are announced next Tuesday.  This was almost unthinkable a week ago and may push expected Globe nominees such as "The Hurt Locker" or "An Education" out of the Best Picture - Drama race.  Additionally, this could (emphasis on "could") find "Avatar" seriously being considered for one of the ten nominees for Oscar's Best Picture trophy -- especially considering the 8-10th slots hardly seem secure at this point in the race.
 
More importantly to Fox, a strong Globe reaction could be the final piece of the puzzle to ensure a massive opening weekend.  "Avatar" is already tracking at a $60 million plus debut, but unexpected critical acclaim could certainly boost interest among those on the fence about the genre flick.  At the very least, it's certainly another intriguing twist in "Avatar's" 15 year journey to the big screen.
 
So, will this news convince anyone to now rise early Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM EST/ 5:30 PM PST to find out who was nominated?  On second thought, don't answer that West Coast peeps.  The news won't change either way if you sleep in to a more reasonable hour.  But trust us, we'll be up and waiting.