Tag Archives: awards

The Fake Golden Globes

Okay, I guess the awards themselves aren’t fake, but announced with staccato quickness, reaaaaaally short or nonexistent clips, and no fanfare by Access Hollywood-type hosts, they sure felt fake. In fact, I think I’m going to just pretend that No Country for Old Men and Juno won everything. Except Best Director, which I expected to go to the Coens, but I’m perfectly happy for Julian Schnabel to get it, because The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was perfection. Speaking of which, they didn’t even announce the Best Foreign Film winner! Which was Diving Bell, as it should be. Or Best Screenplay (Coens), or Best Score (Atonement), or Best Song (the one from Into the Wild), IIRC. Color me not a fan of the pared-down broadcast, though I am still glad the actors supported the WGA. But guys, seriously. Settle this thing before the Oscars. I need my overlong, oversappy, overdressed, overhyped, underaccurate award shows!

Oh, and I was also hoping for a Pushing Daisies win for Best Comedy Series, but I’m not surprised it didn’t make it. It would’ve been nice for the hosts to give it some cred, though, instead of fawning all over 30 Rock in EVERY CATEGORY. Not that 30 Rock doesn’t deserve it, I’m just saying. Spread the love. Did anyone see Mad Men on AMC? I didn’t even know AMC was doing series now (I guess this is the first one?). They gave up on doing classic movies properly a long time ago, so I guess they had to do something…

Full list of winners here, among other places, I’m sure.

Time’s Richard Corliss on Critic’s Awards

The major film critic awards have been trickling out over the past few weeks, most of them honoring the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men and other semi-indie, art-house end of the year releases, prompting Time’s Richard Corliss to wonder “Do Film Critics Know Anything?”. Basically, he likes all the films that won, but thinks perhaps the film critics awards are an exercise in mutual affirmation of the type of films that film critics like, but that average moviegoers haven’t seen and don’t care about. And he’s afraid that the Golden Globes and Oscars are going to follow the film critics’ lead and nominate a bunch of stuff most people haven’t seen. (The Globe nominations came out last week, and he’s mostly right.)

But the Golden Globes and the Oscars, if they follow the critics’ lead, will have V.D.D. — viewer deficit disorder. Large numbers of people won’t watch shows paying tribute to movies they haven’t seen. In the old Golden Age days, most contenders for the top Oscars were popular movies that had a little art. Now they’re art films that have a little, very little, popularity. The serious movies Hollywood gives awards to in January and February are precisely the kind it avoids making for most of the year. The Oscars are largely an affirmative action program, where the industry scratches its niche. The show is a conscience soother, but not a crowd pleaser.

I guess my question is, first, so what? And second, um, so what? The Oscars have been accurate tests of cinematic quality since never; they used to be more populist, as he says, perhaps, but they’re always political. They’re always calculated. He does allow that the film critic groups should pick whatever they want to pick, but then bemoans the fact that *shocker* the rest of the awards might actually listen to critics? We might have fewer craptastic movies coming out of Hollywood if *shocker* the average moviegoer listened to critics. And if we had fewer craptastic movies coming out of Hollywood, maybe then they’d get more awards come award season. Just a thought. (He does mention critically-acclaimed popular films like Knocked Up and how they’ve gotten passed by so far this year…personally I disliked Knocked Up, so…)

Plus, I figure the more small, indie, artsy films that get honored at awards time, the more visibility they have, the more people will go see them, and then more people will learn what sort of cinematic treasures lurk outside the multiplex. (I’m being elitist. I’m sorry, I have to to counter Corliss’s rather odd populism…I like blockbusters too, but they don’t need awards–they get plenty of viewership without them.) It’s the small films that NEED critics to promote them, to bring them to a public consciousness that they won’t get from television and radio ads. And October-January (aka awards-preparation season) is the only time they get highlighted.

I don’t really understand why the Oscar show needs to be a crowd-pleaser. Is Corliss working for the network that’s airing them, trying to figure out how to get them more viewers? If people are only interested in watching the summer blockbusters they loved get awards, there are the People’s Choice Awards, the Blockbuster Awards, the Kid’s Choice Awards, and probably others. Let them watch those telecasts, and leave the Globes and the Oscars for those of us who WANT Julie Christie to win an award for so brilliantly portraying an Alzheimer’s patient (Away from Her), and who WANT the Coen brothers to finally win an Oscar for one of the most cinematically perfect films of the year (No Country for Old Men), and who WANT the innovative French animators who worked on Persepolis to win an Oscar over Pixar (who are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but they already have a bunch of little naked gold men), and who WANT festival fare to do well enough in awards season to get screentime in the areas where we live, since going to festivals isn’t what you might call feasible for a lot of us.

If you ask me, the problem isn’t that art-house films get too much attention at the end of the year awards, but that they don’t get enough attention during the rest of the year. It’s not that the awards aren’t populist enough, but that there’s such an unfortunate audience split between popular and art-house.

Awards and Pan’s Labyrinth and Children of Men

Jeffrey M. Anderson on the Golden Globes. Among other things.

This is an old post (twelve days is really old in blog-world), but I had it marked in my feedreader to mention and I’m just getting around to going through some of those. I mentioned in my brief, ranty Golden Globes post that I was surprised by Babel‘s win. Anderson wasn’t, particularly, because as he accurately identifies, it’s an award darling. It’s calculated for awards, in a way that, say, Pan’s Labyrinth is not. Now, I still haven’t seen Babel, so I’ll let Anderson speak to the specifics, but you can see the difference in the trailers. Babel is Important with a capital “I,” while Pan’s Labyrinth is ethereal and mysterious. Anyway, the point is, as Anderson indicates, it’s become distressingly easy to bait the awards, and the same thing happens at the Oscars, except usually more so.

The Oscar nominations for Best Picture are Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima (which I also haven’t seen, but at least it isn’t nominated in the Foreign Language category this time–another thing Anderson rants about the Globes, just as I did), Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen. Of the three I’ve seen, I’d pick The Departed, though the other two are good as well. But Babel has A Message, so it may very likely win. However, I’d put both Children of Men (although I wasn’t as enamored of it as some) and Pan’s Labyrinth above all of them, and Volver above many. The fact that Volver wasn’t even nominated in the foreign category stymies me. Pan’s Labyrinth better win it.

Because honestly, Pan’s Labyrinth was one of the most beautiful, most moving, most gorgeous, most heartbreaking, most everything films I’ve seen in a long time. It takes place during the Spanish Civil War (also the setting of director Del Toro’s excellent The Devil’s Backbone), and in fact, the “realistic” sections dealing with the war take up substantially more screen time than the “fantastic” parts, despite what the trailer might lead you to believe. The main character, Ofelia, moves with her mother to a military outpost when her mother marries a captain there (her father is long dead); her mother is very pregnant. The captain is a brutish man, only interested in having a son to carry on his name, and focused on routing the rebels up in the hills above the camp. Hating him, Ofelia’s only escape is into a fairy world, where she may be a long-lost princess–if only she can carry out the three tasks that the faun Pan gives her. But the fairy world isn’t a safe retreat; it’s just as dangerous and scary as the real world. But it’s a world where she has a place, where she has a role and a purpose–unlike the real world, where her step-father would just as soon she disappear entirely. Is there a message? Well, yes. The importance of self-sacrifice and doing the right thing, even when it’s dangerous. But the message is woven into the action of the story; you have to tease out the meaning yourself, as you sit in the theatre and quietly cry while the credits roll. Or maybe that was just me.

The thing is, award-winning films hit you over the head with their messages. That’s probably why Children of Men didn’t get anywhere in the awards, either, despite being critically acclaimed from nearly all quarters. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a single, pithy message in the film. Love people? Care about them? Do all you can to help them? Fight against despair? Oppose fascist governments? The thing that made Children of Men great for me wasn’t WHAT it said, but the WAY it portrayed the world of the not-very-distant future. The care in the set design. The perfect camera set-ups. It was able to show the complete devastation of a world thrown into terror and confusion because of a plague with an unknown cause that led to worldwide sterility, without ever needing any of the characters to describe what was going on. It’s one of the most perfectly designed films I’ve ever, ever seen. But “perfectly designed” doesn’t hit as hard with the awards people as “Has a Really Obvious and Laudable Message.”

I should really stop ranting about awards. Everything I write about awards turns into a rant. I should just resign myself to the fact that awards are dumb and rarely get it right and just go on about my business of watching good films. So ignore the rant portions of this post and take to heart my advice to see Children of Men and especially Pan’s Labyrinth if you can. Do note both are violent, so don’t take the kids.