As a hunch, "Avatar" lost because it felt too cheery (or cheer-worthy), was too exuberant, when Hollywood was in the mood to salute those who kept things delimited, neutered (more broken, less affect), and controlled. We voted in Obama, not Hillary (though we found a way to give her kudos), and he's going to be around for more than a short while. (Does Bigelow smoke? Did Cameron quit a long time ago? I wonder.)
I would hope with these Oscars that many of us are realizing how predictable we want things to be right now. For awhile yet, we can still pretend we're really into change/progress by handing out crowns to yet another who's never known election, or maybe switch to handing out buckets of them at a time, rather just to one path-breaking singular, but at some point it will become obvious to us that we're for some reason terrified of moving on. I guess we figure we'll "deal" with this moment when we get to it, but for now and the short-term: what would it be like if all in one year the best picture, best director, best actor/actress were all female/black? What kind of a charge of affirmation would be get from THAT? -- enough to carry us on? How about along with HALF indie-selections? -- or would that leave us too little room for next time?
At the end of the day, the movie that has stayed with me, is Star Trek. True for anyone else?
Yes, Star Trek is sticking with me. As a Trekkie, I was worried it would suck big time, but it won me over with its humor and its affection for the characters.
I haven't seen Avatar, but it looks like the usual bloated overkill to me. I am afraid it will strain my nerves to watch it.(Presumptuous Insect, response to post)