The Hurt Locker has been one of the favorites to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards this Sunday, March 7, but that status is now being shaken by what’s being called “Lockergate” (thank you, Richard Nixon, for forever attaching yourself to all scandals ever). Nicolas Chartier, a producer for the film, was caught sending out emails to all his friends in the Academy encouraging them to rank The Hurt Locker in the top spot in their ranking of the ten nominees. Nothing wrong with that, but the problem is that he violated Academy rules by also implying that they should do what they can to make sure Avatar doesn’t win. The text of his email can be found here.
The offending line in his email – “if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film” – is a big no-no. When the press got wind of this, Chartier sent out a follow-up email as an apology, saying that his “naivete, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity as a first time nominee is not an excuse for this behavior and I strongly regret it.” But that was not enough. His infraction of the regulations about denigrating other contenders has gotten Chartier banned from the Academy Award ceremony as a result.
Has Chartier blown his film’s shot at winning the Oscar, or is the pall cast by this bit of malarkey not enough to dampen the appreciation for Kathryn Bieglow’s tense story about the military bomb squad in Iraq? Will the momentum of Avatar and its cinematic groundbreaking carry it to victory, or will something as beloved as Up possibly sneak in and score a dark horse upset? We’ll have to watch the glamfest this weekend to find out, but here’s a rundown of the “Big 6″ categories to get you ready.