Not only did Zoe Saldana place rather high in our Best Actress poll, but several of you have pointed out to me that she really should be considered seriously for an acting nod. Lead or supporting, what Saldana does in Avatar IS acting. The closes to a breakthrough with motion capture, and/or animation being added to an actor’s performance would be Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Most of the acting Pitt did was as the half-animated Button – barely recognizable and a performance that simply couldn’t have been gotten without aided technology. That shows that the membrane has been pierced, even if Pitt was also seen a good amount of the time as himself, and himself with makeup.
Andy Serkis probably should have been recognized with a supporting nod, at the very least, for the Lord of the Rings series; he was not. However much of the success of Avatar is squarely on Saldana’s shoulders. She is what you take back with you after the film has ended. Her emotional life is conveyed through her character. Yes, technology has a lot to do with who Neytiri actually is. But she is really the only Na’vi that breaks through – if it were true that it wasn’t all about the technology, surely many of the other Na’vi would be likewise recognized. They have not been.
Saldana’s Neytiri is one of the best female characters of 2009. Can the actors in the Academy evolve? Do they see this as too threatening?¬† The way I figure it, I can understand how actors would feel nervous and/or skeptical. However, if it were me, and this was my future I would want to evolve along with it so that I could be employable twenty years from now when there are many more options for acting work than straight live action narratives. We know live action isn’t going away any time soon. But why not be more open to the possibilities of adding to, not taking away from, the acting pool of jobs? Just my two cents.