Great discussion going on here... and to the comment about this being off topic for APUG... well, *this is me rolling my eyes*...
I think there are two competing approaches here that are most interesting; 1) the "suspension of reality" that is such an historically important element of movies and 2) hyper-realism.
I think that in terms of documenting nature, natural events, Earth in general, "cinematic reportage" if you will; hyper-realism has it's place. Flying over the grand canyon in 3D IMAX at 48fps would be an absolute visual miracle, and the fidelity would be meaningful.
On the other hand, it's so true that this has nothing to do with making good movies, and that's where suspending belief still excels; like you guys said, a 16mm Bolex in the hand's of an artist is unmatched by a hollywood movie with a $300m budget. I'll take The Bicycle Thief over Avatar any day, in terms of substance, meaning and "heart-strings". Still, movies like Avatar are in many ways technological masterpieces, and are analogous to a huge print from an 8x10" color negative.... the detail & fidelity are literally awe-some, but whether the image stays with you after the fact is a function of the artist and not the medium.