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Why Did James Cameron Skip the 2023 Academy Awards?

Zoe Saldana s Neytiri Sully in Avatar: The Way of Water

The 95th Academy Awards premiered on March 12, 2023, and bestowed the most prestigious awards to the best films of 2022. Despite being one of the biggest nights of the year for film, several celebrities were noticeably absent from the show. The two biggest names that were missing from the big night were Tom Cruise and James Cameron. Cruise is the lead star of Top Gun: Maverick, which impressively picked up six Academy Award nominations this year, including one for Best Picture. Meanwhile, Cameron is the director of Avatar: The Way of Water, which was also up for Best Picture, as well as three other awards.

Earlier this year, Cruise also missed the Golden Globes, which wasn’t surprising after he returned his past three Golden Globe awards in 2021 to protest the show’s lack of diversity. His grand gesture actually became the butt of Golden Globe host Jerrod Carmichael’s jokes, as he roasted Cruise for protesting the Golden Globes while still supporting the controversial church of Scientology. Fortunately, his absence at the Oscars wasn’t as eyebrow-raising, as he was merely oversees filming Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, Part II.

However, Cameron’s absence wasn’t so easily explained, and a joke from Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel only raised further questions about it.

Why did James Cameron skip the Oscars?

During his opening monologue, Kimmel touched on both Cruise’s and Cameron’s absences. He pointed out the irony in the fact that both Cruise and Cameron had advocated so heavily for folks to return to the theater this year following the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, yet … they both failed to come to the theater themselves for the Oscars. However, he dug into Cameron a little more than Cruise, mentioning the rumors that Cameron had skipped the Oscars because he wasn’t among the Best Picture nominees for his work on Avatar: The Way of Water.

While Kimmel dismissed the idea because of Cameron’s “deep humility,” he also made it clear he wouldn’t have been surprised at Cameron’s stance, stating, “I mean, how does the Academy not nominate the guy who directed Avatar? What did they think he is, a woman?” This joke took aim at the Academy for the fact that only three women have ever won the Academy Award for Best Director in 95 years. However, it also made some viewers question if Cameron really did skip the Oscars for not nominating him. If so, it certainly would’ve been a stark departure from Jamie Lee Curtis, who emphasized the teamwork that goes into winning such a prestigious award, as she declared during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress, “We won an Oscar.”

Ultimately, the real reason Cameron missed the Academy Awards is unclear. Avatar: The Way of Water producer Jon Landau only told Variety that Cameron couldn’t appear for “personal reasons.” Despite his absence, he had attended a dinner with his fellow Oscar nominees on March 11, which seems to suggest he wasn’t against the awards show as a whole. Plus, Avatar: The Way of Water was nominated for the most prestigious award of the night (Best Picture), making it unlikely Cameron skipped merely for not gaining a personal nomination. However, he has not yet publicly responded to questions about his absence from the Oscars.

(featured image: 20th Century Studios)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.