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If there’s one thing the Oscars love more than a pretty person transforming him or herself for a tear-jerking biopic, it’s a good narrative.

2009’s ceremony offered up one of the more striking narratives in recent memory: James Cameron’s visual effects marvel Avatar was head-to-head with the low-budget, low-grossing gritty war drama The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. That Cameron also happened to be Bigelow’s ex-husband only added to this dramatic narrative, pitting the two films and filmmakers against each other in a battle for Oscar glory. Ultimately The Hurt Locker won out, as did Bigelow, making history as the first (and only) woman ever to win the Best Director prize.

Cameron had been characteristically candid in the lead up to the awards ceremony, stating that he was OK losing Best Director to Bigelow, but that Avatar deserved the Best Picture prize. The film lost, and Cameron had to make-do with Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction Oscars plus $2.7 billion worldwide.

Since that time Cameron has been busy writing and developing four more Avatar sequels, but he recently took time out to discuss his National Geographic documentary Atlantis Rising with The Daily Beast. The conversation turned to the Oscars, and the candid Cameron offered his thoughts on why the Academy fails to recognize big blockbuster movies:

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