In the Old Hollywood days a major studio that had spent big-time on an epic-level film (Gone With The Wind, Duel in the Sun, Ben-Hur, Around The World in 80 Days, Cleopatra, etc.) would almost automatically be assured of a few below-the-line Oscar nominations. The producers and studio chiefs also knew that the town would at least try to find it in its heart to bestow a Best Picture nomination unless, you know, the big film they’d made was embarassingly bad. And sometimes they’d wangle a Best Picture nomination even if it sucked (i.e., Dr. Doolittle).
In so doing the community would basically say to the producers and the studios behind these behemoths, “You guys have stuck your necks out and hired hundreds of people, and now we’re going to try and give you as much semi-legitimate Oscar hoopla as we can, which will presumably help you out at the box-office.”
I don’t know if old-time community standards are still in effect but in a fair and just world shouldn’t Avatar get Best Picture nominated for the simple fact that it’s a big-gamble movie that has cost $300 million? In a compassionate world shouldn’t the community rally round and do as much as it can to help out poor 20th Century Fox and Tom Rothman and James Cameron and all the other guys whose members are on the chopping block…no? Presuming it doesn’t blow chunks, of course, and I strongly doubt that it will. If you had green-lighted Avatar wouldn’t you feel gratified and comforted if the town voted to support you and yours with a Best Picture nomination? Isn’t a community supposed to take care of its own?