Star Trek Awards Buzz Watch: Year End Summary

Today the Oscar ballots are being mailed to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and in the last weeks we have seen Star Trek show up on more year-end critic top 10 lists. So today TrekMovie takes one last look for the year at how the Star Trek movie is doing with its award season buzz.



Star Trek has been named a top film of 2009 (and the decade) by a number of publications. Here are some of the latest quotes on what they are saying about Star Trek.

Rank: #1

It’s damn near impossible to make a movie that appeals to longtime devotees, newbies, and everyone in between…Abrams pulled it off with a blockbuster that has the perfect balance of action and intelligence, comedy and drama, insider references and accessibility, and actually left us amped to see sequels.
Complex Magazine (UK)

Rank: #4

This was a STAR TREK movie for people who didn’t hang out at Klingon conventions. Big, bold and just pipping the also brilliant DISTRICT 9 as Best Sci-Fi of the year.
BBC Radio (UK)

Rank: Best Reboot/Remake of the Decade

While film after film has taken us forward with the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek was a true origins story that wasn’t geared towards Trekkies, too simple for fans of the show, or too complex for newbies. Star Trek delivered a visually stunning brand of mainstream entertainment that propelled the series back not only back into theaters, but the public consciousness.
Rotten Tomatoes

Rank: #1

Forget for a moment how great Star Trek was and think, for a moment, just how easy it would have been for it to suck.  Too many business people and shareholders and a movie franchise becomes just a column in a spreadsheet.  J.J. Abrams, Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman and all of Paramount were smart enough to realize that Star Trek isn’t just a brand of soap, it is, for many, a way of life.  That one can treat it with the love and respect it deserves but also make a boatload of money in the process is simply logical.

Rank: One of Best

Seen as the last throw of the dice for the beloved science fiction saga after a succession of unsuccessful movies and a ropey prequel TV series, JJ Abrams worked his magic on Star Trek, bringing together hardcore fans, Trek cynics and newcomers for the adventures of a young Kirk and Spock. From start to finish, an epic blockbuster that amused and thrilled in equal measure.
Digital Spy (UK)

More Top Movie Lists


STAR TREK BUZZWATCH – is Avatar killing Trek hopes for Gold?

Over the summer there was some buzz about Star Trek being a contender for one of the five extra slots for Best Picture nominees. The extension to ten was seen as a way for the Academy to include some mainstream films into the mix of indies and other lesser known fare. However, it appears that Up and now Avatar are the mostly likely blockbusters to work their way in (despite Trek being one of the best reviewed films of they year, see chart below).

EW’s Oscar Watch noted today:

I do think the argument can be made that Avatar’s newly-cemented status as a Best Picture frontrunner along the lines of The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air does have ramifications for other contenders that push similar buttons. For instance, Avatar’s popularity among Academy members is likely the death knell for Star Trek and District 9’s Best Picture hopes, since there probably won’t be room for two sci-fi films in the list of 10

Last week the LA Times Gold Derby came to a similar conclusion. The Times considers Avatar a front runner in nine categories, but feels that Trek is also a  front runner for nomination in Best Musical Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

For those who think there is a anti-Star Trek vibe, here is a little more to fuel the conspiracy. The excellent site regularly compiles a top rating chart, that averages the scores from the Broadcast Film Critics, Metacritic, IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. When you do that, Star Trek is currently ranked #4 for the year. But when you look at the ‘Buzz’ for Star Trek, it is still considered a total long shot. 

Click to see full chart at AwardsDaily

#6 Domestic Film of the year – #11 Globally (so far)
Speaking of top lists, the end of the year is coming and Star Trek looks like it will end the year in 6th place for domestic box office sales ($257.7M), in a very competitive and record breaking year for movies. However, it is quite possible that Avatar will eventually out earn Star Trek domestically, pushing it down to #7. Due to its strong overseas sales, Avatar has already pushed past Star Trek on the Worldwide chart. Star Trek looks like it will finish the year at #11 for global box office ($385.5M) on that one.

Trek’s domestic Box office (not infl. adjusted unless otherwise noted) places it at…

  • All time domestic: #35
  • All time domestic (infl. adjusted) #181
  • All time prequels: #4
  • All time Sci-fi: #8
  • All time TV adaptation: #1
  • Star Trek franchise: #1
  • Paramount films: #8



Here is a summary of the awards and nominations that Star Trek has received so far, broken down into different categories.


Grammy Awards

  • Nominee – Best Score Soundtrack Album

Coming up: BAFTA nominations in Jan, Oscars in February

Popular Vote Awards

People’s Choice Awards (winners announced Jan 6)

  • Nominee – Breakout Actress (Saldana)
  • Nominee – Breakout Actor (Pine & Quinto)
  • Nominee – Favorite Franchise
  • Nominee – Favorite Movie

Hollywood Awards

  • Winner – Best Movie

Scream Awards

  • Winner- Ultimate Scream
  • Winner- Best Science Fiction Movie
  • Winner- Best Director (JJ Abrams)
  • Winner- Best Science Fiction Actor (Chris Pine)
  • Winner- Best Cameo (Winona Ryder)
  • Winner- Best Fight Scene (Kirk Spock bridge fight)

Teen Choice Awards

  • Nominated for 5 awards, but no wins


Screen Actors Guild (winners announced in January)

  • Nominee – Best Stunt Ensemble

California on Location Awards

  • Winner – Asst. Location Manager of the year (Kathy McCurdy)

Casting Society – Atrios Awards

  • Winner – Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Big Budget Feature (April Webster & Alyssa Weisberg)

American Latino Media Arts/Alma Awards

  • Winner – Special Achievement in Writing (Roberto Orci)
  • Salanda and Collins also nominated

Coming up: Most guilds announce nominees in January, including DGA, ACE, ADG, WGA, ASC, PGA, Costumers, VES

National Critics Groups

Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. – Critics Choice Awards (winners announced in Jan.)

  • Nominee – Best Action Movie
  • Nominee – Best Acting Ensemble
  • Nominee – Best Makeup
  • Nominee – Best Visual Effects
  • Nominee – Best Sound

National Board of Review

  • Top 10 Film of the Year

Local Critics Groups

Las Vegas Film Critics Society

  • Winner – Best Visual Effects

Boston Society of Film Critics

  • Winner – Best Ensemble Cast

St. Louis Film Critics Association

  • Nominee – Best Visual Effects

Washington DC Film Critics

  • Nominee – Best Acting Ensemble
  • Nominee – Best Art Direction


TrekMovie will continue to keep track of the awards for Star Trek as we move into the next year.


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I hope Trek does get the nom. But I do not expect it to. Would be great to have Trek up for Mr. Oscar. It will get the nom for Fx and sound though.

Very comprehensive, Mr. Pascale! Thank you.

* io9 (Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of Decade: #1)

Maybe I’m misreading this, but this list doesn’t seem to be ranked in any particular order. Even if it was, Trek was fourth on the list (not counting the introductory page).

What a great read. Thanks, AP. Fingers crossed for the Oscars, but in the surfing I’ve been doing, you do get the feeling that it will be Avatar or nothing for Best Picture.

Come on Academy Awards… respect Sci-Fi!!!

Either way, win or no-win, i’m glad its getting noticed !

As much as I want it to win a ton of awards, I still would be very blessed if it was only nominated. I feel even more blessed though to know that many Star Trek fans and I have a wonderful movie to share with anyone. :)

As much as I would like “Star Trek” to get the nod in the “Best Picture” category, I’m pulling for “Up” to get in even more. Pixar repeatedly puts out amazing films that basically win the “best animated feature” category by default, even though they are best-picture worthy. “Up” deserves to get the nod not just on its own merit, but because Pixar deserves more recognition than the Academy has been giving them.

Anthony, The Houston Film Critics Society nominated it for its top ten list:

Awesome to see that Trek did so well this year. Still makes me so mad that it got beat out by New Moon (aarrgh!). Hopefully, though, it’ll win something, at least, and that’ll be good for when the sequel comes in a couple years. It’s certainly livin’ long and prospering!

As well as “Star Trek” did in pulling in mainstream audiences, the fact that outside of North America the film didn’t do so well means there is still a lot of work to be done. The good news is that many people who skipped seeing the movie are now picking up the dvd or Blu Ray.

As for Oscar nominations, “Star Trek’ will be shut out, even in the technical categories. Films like “Avatar”, “Transformers 2”, “Up”, “District 9”, “Terminator Salvation” and “New Moon” will take precedence in the minds of voters in regards to categories such as visual effects, make-up, sound editing, music etc. I really love the new film and do hope it is nominated (at least in the technical categories) but I fear the Academy has already forgotten or doesn’t care about “Star Trek”.

#11 You have good taste for someone still in high school. Makes me glad that even a teenager can prefer good sci-fi over adolescent vampire crap. Heh heh!

so sad we had a chance finally with Trek 2009, only to have Avatar come around last minute of the year and steal its glory! BTW I haven’t seen Avatar yet, but will soon enough! Good Luck Trek @ the Oscars!

I’ve seen Avatar (not in 3D, I wanted to judge the movie on it’s own merits), and it’s not a bad movie. Entertaining? Yes. Best picture material? Definitely not. It was way too predictable, and anyone who knows history and formulaic movies knows how the movie will end before it is halfway over. Character development was also lacking. All of the background for the characters had been covered practically before I got settled into my seat.
In the technical aspects, yes it is breathtaking. The motion-capture and CGI work was phenomenal, I just wish there were more character moments.
As a spectacle, Avatar was everything I had hoped for. But in every other category that matters, Star Trek was a stronger movie. If the Academy can’t see that, then I would have lost any respect I currently have for them.

I would think Avatar will get the Best Picture snub the same way LOTR did until ROTK.

Motion capture and 3D are gimmicks, and a film can only stand on what is there once the gimmickry is removed. The gimmicks are rated in their own FX categories. In this case, the actors are removed from the screen for most of the film, so actor categories will be elusive. What remains is a cartoon.

I’ll see Avatar in the coming days with my kids and judge for myself.

Avatar was an entertaining film, but it’s not “Best Picture” material. As stated above, the plot was predictable and nothing new. It’s basically the same story as Frank Herbert’s DUNE.

I may be biased but I think STAR TREK was a much better film. Take away the 3-D flourishes and AVATAR was entertaining, but also rather forgettable.

If you’d like to assist the Star Trek awards push, you can vote on Rotten Tomatoes for the Editors Top Choice Award from the RT homepage. I would encourage you all to vote… Star Trek needs the votes. You don’t need an account to vote.

It seems, so often, movies that in some way push the film-making envelope tend to lack any real substance — in terms of story, and character.
The thing about Star Trek is that it has never relied on visual effects, it has always been about the characters. When a movie fails to deliver character, it fails, period.
Consider the first 3 Star Wars films (meaning “A New Hope” thru “Return of the Jedi”) compared to the next 3 (“Phantom Menace,” etc.). The original films were far more successful in delivering character, while the prequels were mostly about film-making, digital graphics, and so forth. I distinctly remember sitting on the edge of my seat during “A New Hope,” while I also distinctly remember falling asleep during “Menace.” The main difference was that I cared about the characters in the earlier film. I didn’t care about anything or anyone in “Menace.”
I have not seen Avatar yet, but it is on my list of movies to check out. However, I have been following the buzz on the movie, and the general consensus has been that Avatar is ground-breaking film-making, but nothing special in the story/character dept. Isn’t this sorta typical?
I think the Supreme Court is smart enough to avoid the spectacle and, instead, focus on what Star Trek has always been about — Capt. Kirk and crew.

must the mainstream insult our beloved Trek while praising the new movie.

After a string of unsucessful movies, that implies they are alldreadful, i find that insulting.

Its one thing to praise the new movie but please don’t insult past movies.

I happen to like First Contact more than the new movie.

hmmm i am torn here-i disagree with those who say trek09 is better than avatar but i also loved trek-avatar is immensely entertaining-technically groundbreaking yes,but the motion capture acting is wonderful-zoe who was great as uhura is wonderful in avatar-her netiri is a character you luv in the movie-strong n fun full of love and life n joy n emotions-when she loses her home n parent her anguished cries almost made me cry-the lead characters joy at having legs again n how he falls in love with the people n planet is exhilerating–despite the story being dances with wolves and yes some dune thrown in,the story works with the tech effexs like almost no other movie-the planet the people live-this is no small feat-avatar is easily superior to trek in nearly every way and its imagery will stay with your soul like few movies do-its a love story-an eco story n adventure like no other-my 91 yr old father is still marveling over how wonderful the movie was-they liked trek too but i think avatar n camerons innate filmaking genius easily beat jjs trek despite my luv for it n trek-if trejs sequel can be about something like avatar is-it would help to make it a better movie also-

#19 – My jury is still out on the folks: I fear we’ll be getting a “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” for the sequel, if you get the gist. Keep in mind Orci and Kurtzman DID contribute to that (though they don’t take all the blame).

#20 – This Trek is more accessible to the mainstream media. You’ll have to get used to some of the bashing.

“I have not seen Avatar yet, but it is on my list of movies to check out. However, I have been following the buzz on the movie, and the general consensus has been that Avatar is ground-breaking film-making, but nothing special in the story/character dept. Isn’t this sorta typical?”

*Sigh* It’s no great surprise that Trek advocates would disparage a movie–even one they haven’t yet seen–that threatens to leave “their” film franchise holding the bag yet again at Oscar time. But these criticisms of Avatar nevertheless seem pretty misplaced, to say the least. Yes, the plot and politics of the Cameron film are pretty basic in some respects–but that seems an odd complaint from those who could appreciate a plot where yet another revenge-seeking villain, who starts out with every material advantage, is brought down by a completely inexperienced adversary solely because the needs of the script demanded it. And while no one would confuse the level of character development in Avatar with Up In the Air (or even Up for that matter), I personally found the theme of Jake Scully as a disabled veteran who finds joy and liberation at being able to escape into his avatar body as both timely and poignant (not to mention a far superior motivation for the story’s events than that of an entitled frat boy with daddy issues).

As someone who has been a fan of Star Trek longer than many of the posters here have been alive, all I can say is: Sorry, Trekkers, if Avatar gets the glory while Trek ’09, outisde of forums like this one, is already largely forgotten. The unremarkable reason is simply that Avatar is a better film; certainly, better drama and SF, with or without the CG motion capture. It didn’t have to be that way. J.J. Abrams and his “Supreme Court” were handed the keys to the kingdom, as it were, and might have done themselves proud. Instead, they produced a competent, mildly enjoyable summer action movie that was as consumable and forgettable as the popcorn and sodas that went with it. Better luck (hopefully) next time.

23. I read your post and smile.
You are very eloquent with your words,but come up with no substance.

The supreme court were given a mission to make a movie, with what could have been considered insurmountable odds. (Much like the best trek episodes and movies)
They were charged with breathing new life into a franchise that was bloated with canon. They needed to draw the general movie going public to fill the seats with an entertaining movie while still giving a huge nod to previous canon and established Trek fans. The fact that a lot of fans saw the movie several times speaks to the fact the Court was successful with established Trek fans. It’s been a topseller on the sales charts can speak to the fact that everyone is either renting or buying the film.
Trek was the number 1 pirated film this year. Thats because people wanted to see it despite doing so illegally.
Yes, I can nitpick at a few things but boborci if you’re reading this I say: Mission Accomplished!
I eagerly await the next installment.

Avatar was ok, but I play a lot of video games, so the CG just wasn’t THAT mind-blowing. And, sorry, we’re still not there with motion capture. I had practically no emotional connect with the Navi. Oh I could see, from a film maker’s perspective, the attempted manipulation. It just didn’t work and that is where Trek soars above and beyond Avatar. Regardless of whether or not the critics realise it.


Doesn’t mean I have to like it

Its one thing making it accessible but to bash the Trek we love, not happy with that.

You think it was all crap before JJ Abrams directed this film but this is wrong. But then again the people who make comments like that don’t like Trek and never will become Trekkies, they like the new film yet still don’t get Trek. And that is a shame.

23. Michael

I didn’t “disparage” Avatar, I commented on what I read and heard from numerous reviews about the film. No, I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t say FOR CERTAIN that all of these others are correct, I’m just saying what I heard, and that I, for one, am not surprised to hear such a thing. And, as far as I (and many, many others) are concerned, the Supreme Court DID do themselves proud, they made a damn good movie and they revitalized a dying franchise. I’ve been a Trekkie since it started playing in ’66, so I think I know something about Star Trek. I don’t know if Avatar is a better film, but for you, that is just your opinion, and that’s fine by me. I hope I like Avatar a lot, but it won’t make any difference how I feel about Trek.

Well, you can’t argue with numbers. ;-)

#23 I agree. Star Trek has already been forgotten. In fact someone had the Blu-ray on over the holiday and nobody was paying attention to it. When I saw it and ran it back to the beginning to watch the opening, we all agreed it simply wasn’t as powerful as it was the first time, and it felt heavy-handed and manipulative. It just doesn’t hold up, and I thought I would never say that. I think the DVD screeners the academy members receive will only hurt Star Trek’s chances.

I’ve got to say Avatar has swept me and my girlfriends off our feet. It brought me to tears several times and it has to be one of the most romantic films I have seen, especially for sci-fi. It really is the film Star Trek could be, but I fear never will be.

Star Trek will not likely win any major awards. Looking at the pathetic rag-tag nominations and wins it has accrued so far, mostly before Avatar had been eligible to be nominated, it is almost embarrassing. I just don’t see it being nominated for one Oscar. I don’t see Avatar winning best picture either, but everyone I know in the industry is buzzing about it. Despite how much I love Avatar, though, there are better films than either it and especially Star Trek, that I would much rather see nominated and win. For instance, A Single Man is an amazing film, one worth being seen. Yet how many on this forum have seen it? I’ll bet very few.

I also expect to see Avatar blow past Trek before the end of the year at the box office. I just read in Variety today that Avatar made $19.4 million just on Monday. That’s astounding! If it makes anything like the same amount of money today and tomorrow, Trek drops to 7th. But hey, any film that makes the top 10 is doing really well. And isn’t that the point, for Star Trek to do well? Do I want Star Trek to win awards and Oscars? Sure I do, but I want it to earn them first, not just because I am fan.

In my opinion, both “Star Trek” and “District 9” were better all-round movies than “Avatar”. As much as I enjoyed “Avatar”, I felt without the awesome CGI spectacle and performances of Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana, the film would have been an average one at best. The plot was kind of too obvious and reminded be too much of “Pocahontas” and “Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest”.

I have to agree with Anthony and say it will be “Avatar” or nothing in regards to a sci-fi film being nominated for best picture.

Just take solace in the recognition that the new Trek movie is getting, its getting more attention than it has had in over a decade.

Despite my gripes with changes I am still glad it has made Trek popular again but I want it to exist along with the other movies and series.

#29 Totally agree with you, sadly.

28. Red Skirt

Being nominated or winning awards for ANY accomplishment is never pathetic or embarrassing. The awards are given to acknowledge accomplishments in numerous categories, and those people responsible for all these different categories have given it their all. If you were part of a visual effects team, or a wardrobe team, or make-up team and were nominated or won an award, I highly doubt you would stick your award in a closet where no one would ever see it, because you were embarrassed by it!

The fact is, for some people, Star Trek 09 can do nothing right, eh?
If it makes millions at the box office, the amount of money a film makes is no indication as to whether or not it was a good film. If millions of people liked the film, that also has nothing to do with whether or not it was any good. If every major critic in the country gave it a thumbs up, that doesn’t mean it was a good film. If Trek 09 doesn’t win any major award, that also means it wasn’t a good movie. Ultimately, then, there is absolutely no way to ever determine whether a film is any good or not — unless you (I mean “you,” in general, not you personally) happen to have liked it. And if you didn’t like the film, then your opinion is that the film wasn’t any good. This is obvious, isn’t it? I saw the same movie you did (multiple times), and I thought it was fabulous, every time. Which point of view is valid? In fact, they both are, except that I’m happy with Trek 09 and you’re not.

I have no problem that there are people out there who didn’t like the film. That is to be expected because no artist can please every single person. If an artist manages to please more people than he disappoints, the artist accepts it and hangs on to the people he has pleased. Those people are his fans.

It is possible we will be able to better judge how well Trek 09 was received by the performance of the sequel. If the sequel comes out of the gate doing big numbers, then, LOGICALLY, we could conclude that a lot of people liked 09 so much they had to come out for the sequel. If the sequel doesn’t do anything at the box office, then we could conclude that 09 left them flat and they lost interest in Star Trek, once and for all. I, for one, am willing to bet that the sequel is being eagerly anticipated by the majority of those who paid $$ to see 09. I’m sure you, on the other hand, would be willing to bet the sequel will be a bomb, simply because it won’t ever be the film you think it should be. Hmm?

#30 captain neill, I believe, is absolutely correct: Trek is getting more attention than it has had in over a decade, and THAT is what Star Trek 09 set out to do. From that perspective alone, Trek 09 has been a great success. I highly doubt any of the people who made that film were thinking about winning awards, anyway. Sure, every artist wants to be embraced and acknowledged for his/her work, but if an artist is doing the work specifically for the praise, or the $$, then he/she isn’t much of an artist, IMO.

P Technobabble, why the antagonism? I am a fan of Star Trek, I am reading a fan site and posting on it. Not because I hate it, but because I love it. Why not give me the benefit of the doubt? I will be thrilled if the Star Trek sequel performs as well as Batman Returns to Dark Knight did. So once again you are wrong in your assumptions, not taking any bets against it here. I look forward to it with no particular expectation whatsoever. And why would you say that I’m not happy with Star Trek (or did you mean the general “you” :-)? I was perfectly happy with Star Trek as a Summer diversionary popcorn film. This is an article which discusses Star Trek’s Oscar worthiness, and in my opinion, it did not live up to anything like an Oscar caliber film, especially for best picture.

And by the way, most everything you fleeced me with (I mean others ;-), applies to those who have been trashing Avatar as well, which in my opinion has everything going for it as an oscar worthy film, in much the same way Star Wars did in 1977. That is where our opinions differ here.

If people want to hold unrealistic hopes for Star Trek, fine by me. And of course everyone involved in it should be proud of the awards it receives, some of those smaller guild awards actually do mean something to the individuals. However, citing them and especially the Scream and Hollywood awards in connection with an article that discusses Star Trek’s worthiness for Oscar “best picture” consideration is rather weak and yes, embarrassing. Particularly, for those who will never likely see any of the other amazing films that will be nominated and yet insist Star Trek is being robbed.

Oops, #33 was from me.

33. Red Skirt

One of the disadvantages of posting in these types of forums is that we can’t see each other. If we could, you probably would have seen and known what a rather silly person I am, and that I meant no antagonism, and I should have put lots of :-)’s in here to try to portray that I am a harmless guy. Otherwise, I apologize if I sounded harsh, I mean no harm :-)))), honest!

When you make grand-ish statements like “Star Trek has already been forgotten,” or “Looking at the pathetic rag-tag nominations and wins it has accrued so far, mostly before Avatar had been eligible to be nominated, it is almost embarrassing..,” it is hard to tell what sort of fan you are. Tell me how you really feel, eh? It is easy to tell you dug Avatar, but not so clear that you love Star Trek, then.

I agree with you completely: Star Trek (much as I enjoyed it) is not an Oscar-worthy film, AND the chances of a sci-fi film being awarded best picture, anyway, is about as likely as winning the lottery, being struck by lightning, and bit by a beagle all at the same moment, IMO. I am reserving judgement on Avatar until I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, but, based upon what I have read and heard from a small number of others who have seen it, the movie is wonderful to watch, short on story. I’m just reporting that, not saying “the movie sucks,” on the basis of what I’ve heard. I am not suggesting a movie’s value can be determined by what one hears about it.
“It (Avatar) really is the film Star Trek could be, but I fear never will be…” Well, this is where I got the impression you weren’t happy with Star Trek, cos if you don’t think Star Trek could ever be the film Avatar is… well, you seem rather resigned. And so, I wouldn’t say our opinion differs on the matter of whether or not Avatar is Oscar-worthy… I have no opinion on Avatar, yet.
Now, I don’t think I made any presumptions from out of the blue. I’m just responding to some of your comments, I’m not assuming anything. I may have misinterpreted something you said, or maybe you meant it differently, or whatever, but I assure you, I’m an old peace-loving hippie who is always willing to talk it out. And I’m sure our conversation won’t affect the Oscars, anyway… :-)

Avatar was extremely over-rated. While it was quite the retread of many things we’ve seen before, Dances With Wolves, Ferngully, etc, at least Cameron stole from some of his own better earlier works like Aliens. It was expertly crafted, and the 3D was spectacular. And, as a novelty, it worked flawlessly. And the military cliches were fun. But as a involving story that requires a deep emotional investment for the main characters, the movie just doesn’t deliver. Not for me anyway. Trek was far superior in that regard. But the eye candy of Avatar was fun.


If the Abrams film had been called, per your handle, “Star Track” instead, what would you say had been the reason for your “deep emotional investment” for its main characters? No snark intended–I’m really curious.

The sad fact is that Avatar has a coherent plot (JJTrek does not), and the CGI is actually groundbreaking in what it pulls off (JJTrek doesn’t do anything that hasn’t already been better by one of the Star Wars prequels).

I expect JJTrek to get some technical noms, which it will lose to Avatar or one of the other big FX movies from this year, but nothing from the major categories, and certainly not Best Picture.

Don’t be surprised if it’s a total shutout.

38. Captain

Do tell us what, specifically, wasn’t coherent about the plot of JJTrek? I followed it just fine, as did most people I know who also saw the film. My jury is still out on Avatar until I see it. As for the CG, part of Avatar’s claims is that the graphics are cutting-edge, ground-breaking. Trek never made any such claims, and the graphics have never been the focus of any Trek film, so I think it’s unfair to make comparisons between the graphics of Avatar and Trek. Well, this is what I think, anyway.
Meanwhile, I agree with you: I do not expect Trek to win any Oscars, but if it wins anything it’s all gravy. Star Trek is a success because it did what it set out to do — make Star Trek legitimate again.

#38 “The sad fact is that Avatar has a coherent plot ”

It has a coherent plot alright, it’s called “Dances with Wolves.”

Not very original, but very coherent.

#23 “Sorry, Trekkers, if Avatar gets the glory while Trek ‘09, outisde of forums like this one, is already largely forgotten. The unremarkable reason is simply that Avatar is a better film”

How about this for the REAL unremarkable reason…Avatar is all over the forums because it was released 2 WEEKS ago and is playing, in full force, across the country with hype everywhere you turn. Hmmm….kind of like Star Trek was 7 months ago.

Check the forums all across the net in 7 months and see if Avatar is still all the rage. My guess is the buzz will have subsided, Avatar will have been largely forgotten and all the talk will be about Iron Man 2. That’s Hollywood.

the plot for Trek XI was not incoherent, I felt that the story was a not as strong.

I liked the film but just commenting on one aspect I felt was weak on the writers part.

42. captain_neill

Just wanted to clarify, my last post was directed at Captain April, so I just didn’t want you to get the wrong message thru all the subspace static :-)

and, just in case, #38. Captain April
Just wanted to make sure you know I’m just asking, not trying to be mean or pick on you — I’m just very direct. :-)

#37 “what would you say had been the reason for your “deep emotional investment” for its main characters?”

The emotional investment comes into play, first with the rebel Kirk and the obvious baggage of losing his father and, in turn, his direction. Because of the first scene, we care about Kirk, not because of who he is, but because of the sacrifice his father made so that he could live. Because of that brilliant set up, you want to follow this kid and you want the best for him and that carries throughout the entire movie.

Now warp over to Vulcan. Again, a bigoted society has targeted this poor alien boy for no other reason other than the fact that his mother is human. The cruelty of children come into play making us root for the poor bullied Spock. Then we witness the cold logic of his father and we realise that his mother is really the only “friend” he can turn to. That setup magnifies the heartache of his loss when she dies and we continue to root for Spock because we have emotionally attached ourselves to his character. These scenarios succeeded because the characters are real people.

There was a real disconnect between me and the rendered aliens of Avatar. I felt no history with the characters. They felt like a video game to me. Unreal. And because I never believed them to be real, I had no real emotional investment with them. I enjoyed the story much like I would a story unfolding in a video game. The story is there, but the emotional investment is not. A techincal marvel, not much more.

Well, if you say so. Personally I found Kirk’s reimagined backstory to be trite, forced, and unimaginative. Exactly why does this young man, possessed of so many native gifts, walk around with a galaxy-sized chip on his shoulder that only serves to get the crap kicked out if him in Iowa dives? Just because he never got to know his father, and his stepdad is apparently something of an asshole? Well, cry me a river (or, as a character on “Six Feet Under” once suggested to someone with a similar life circumstance, “Get over it, already—life’s too damn short!”)

I will agree that the scenes depicting Spock’s background were pretty well drawn, including the high-tech Vulcan day school, which was muy cool. Of course, most of the resonance of those scenes was largely due to the (uncredited) work of D.C. Fontana and other writers who conceived that background during the production of TOS. And even here, the writers drop the ball in an unintended gaffe that speaks volumes about their willingness to sacrifice story logic for effect, something that happens over and over again in this film: when Spock’s classmates attempt to incite him by referring to his mother as a “human whore,” did it never occur to anyone on the “Supreme Court” that this being an insult on Spock’s homeworld would necessarily establish for the first time ever that there must be streetwalkers on Vulcan? Does this make any sense at all?

If you honestly feel that it was a lack of realism in Avatar’s effects that distanced you to the extent that you couldn’t sympathize with its characters—well, I honestly don’t know what to tell you there. I don’t play video games, but I do fool with CGI as a hobby, and from my perspective, the film’s images are not just lavish or even spectacular (enough money will buy you that), but often dazzlingly beautiful and almost always photorealistic. And while only time can establish the longevity of any work, I will confidently predict that whatever its narrative flaws Avatar will be regarded as a landmark SF film and perennial for many years to come, while Trek ’09, while regarded with some fondness, will be largely forgotten outside the portion of the Trek fanbase which chose to embrace it. Believe me, I wish it were otherwise.


I know, I get corcerned that I create a bad vibe when I mention how I felt the new movie has a weak plot despite liking the film.

“I’ve seen Avatar (not in 3D, I wanted to judge the movie on it’s own merits),…”

What exactly do you mean by this? The film was shot in 3D. That is an integral part of it. Exactly what “merits” are you judging it by?

47-The 3D is the gimmick, the “hook”. I think 15 was wanting to judge the film without the shock and awe gimmickry inluencing his judgement.

star trackie, I really think you and I were watching two different films. I could not have been more emotionally affected by Avatar, I absolutely fell in love with the Na’vi and all of the characters and was totally affected by their plight. I rooted for the bad guys to get theirs and the salvation of these people. I laughed and cried throughout the movie. If you couldn’t see it that way, then I feel badly for you. It was a fantastic immersion into a totally new reality that skillfully crafted an emotional fabric that totally enveloped you if you were open to it. It seems to me you did not go into the movie with an open mind. Many on this site have said they didn’t like it before ever seeing it. Were you one of them?

Looking at your comments for Star Trek, I would say you brought more reverence for it, which biased your perception. You gave the characters and relationships far more reverence than the story commanded. I got misty-eyed over the opening 5 minutes when it become clear Kirk is going to sacrifice himself. But that is the first and last moment in the movie where that happens. Otherwise, the characters I know so well are merely 2-D characters of themselves. And talk about lack of originality, there is nothing in Star Trek I have not seen done in Trek or some other movie, usually better. But the film as a whole works, and I’m happy it does, because there would be no more Star Trek and it gives them a chance to try to go deeper next time. But having seen it with non-Trek friends, I can tell you, the film in no way affects them on the same level it does you. And it fails to have the same impact on me now that I know what’s coming.

I have seen Avatar 3 times now because there is so much to see, and I find myself responding the same way every time. Does Avatar have its flaws? Sure it does, just like Star Trek does. But lack of emotional impact is not one of them. I don’t believe for a minute that Star Trek was driven mostly by an unfamiliar audience. I think the fans played a huge part in its success. Avatar had no such fan base, and the fact that it has already earned twice as much as Star Trek, over $750 million in less than 2 weeks, speaks volumes for ho much this movie impacts its audience. And it’s not about the technological achievements of this film either. Yes it is amazing to look at, but it is powerful without being preachy.

3-D is not a gimmick here … I kept waiting for stuff to pop out at me and take me out of the moment the first time I saw it, but it doesn’t do that. It provides a depth and dimension that brings the world alive like no other film I have ever seen. I watched a free screening in 2-D for comparison and the story is just as powerful in either medium – I would equate it to watching It’s A Wonderful Life in B&W or colorized: the story doesn’t take a hit either way. But 3-D is integral for adding a layer of realism, that no movie has ever had before, and is truly the wave of the future. I could easily imagine seeing the Hurt Locker in 3-D for this reason and how much more powerful it might make that film.

As for Star Trek, I would truly love to see it win more recognition, and yes even get an oscar, but first it has to transcend being pop sci-fi and dig into deep soul searching stories. And what I saw this Summer didn’t come close to that. Is pure spectacle. Perhaps they should get James Cameron to direct the next Star Trek.

Red Skirt,

You and I are obviously on the same page regarding our reactions to Trek ’09 and Avatar. An interesting thing to note, though, is that notables like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and James Cameron himself have all publicly praised the Abrams take, calling it one of their favorite films of 2009. As someone who appears to be an industry insider yourself, what do you make of that?