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Shameless sincerity is breaking down barriers for blockbuster movies

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It’s rare for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — or any critical body, for that matter — to take blockbuster films seriously.

James Cameron’s original Avatar was successfully recognized at the 2010 ceremony with nine nominations, and won three, for Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Art Direction.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the Kingfamously won Best Picture in 2004, and even the 2010 ceremony saw Avatar joined by the likes of Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and Pixar’s animated movie Up.

But more than a decade removed from that moment, few of the big, populist movies that dominate an average year’s box-office top 10 have achieved similar recognition.

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