And the Oscar goes to…: Awards Season Reaction

Posted on March 5, 2012

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               This is much delayed but I feel I need to make my piece with this past Oscar season. Although I was relegated to watching the big show from the (always awesome) comfort of my friend’s house, this was the first awards season that I have followed in depth. I am usually a big film buff but thanks to Scott Feinberg and his amazing site, I have been able to really analyze and follow the journey of some of these films and ultimately gained a better insight into this pinnacle of Hollywood culture. I thank you Scott since this experience has helped me enhance my further love for writing and this industry.

Now, I have worked in the industry myself. I have been blessed to be an intern for Claire Keheller and Sherri Goldberg at ID PR while working under the lovely Adam Kersh, Tolley Haycock and Gerilyn Shur while I continue under the tutelage of Jesse Cute and Kate Miller and Allied-THA learning as much as I can about film marketing and operating in the treacherous landscape of entertainment. These positions have helped me become more invested in the Oscars and I now have a better understanding of the significance of this season.

I got the inspiration to thank everyone partly from Scott’s post on THR.com and that my undergraduate career is winding down. Here though is my reaction for this awards season.

Awards Show Overload

               First, this season was long. I never realized how many Oscar pundits, critics groups, award shows, guilds etc. existed before this year. I did not get to participate actively this year but I even I felt fatigue. The season should be condensed and should officially kick off in January with the Critics’ Choice. We don’t need the People Choice Awards in which Robert Pattinson has the rare shot of beating out George Clooney in any acting category.

Broadcast some of the more interesting shows too! Why show the People’s Choice (which is practically the winter version of the MTV Movie Awards and Teens Choice) when the writers guild barely gets streamed or shown? The Writers Guild has much more significance to the overall Oscars than the ‘excuse to get the Twilight crew more airtime’ awards in the beginning of the new year.

Also, the Independent Spirit Awards being aired on IFC is fair. Watching this year’s installment though, it might be more important to get this tribute to the little guys of film more coverage. This would be a great fit on quality cable networks like Starz and Showtime. Plus, the INSPA’s honored those who got snubbed by their more prominent golden cousins. There should be more of a push to treat this as “Oscars-lite” and cast a better light on the talent involved with independent film.

Ultimately, these are my minor gripes. If there was a more cohesive schedule for the lead-up to movie’s biggest night, I can guarantee there would be higher viewership for the ceremony and give a more entertaining show. Behold my perfect awards schedule:

December 15th-20th: Golden Globe nominations. Keeping these here make a great way to kick this season off.

December 26th-29th: Critics Groups announce their winners for the year in preparation for the Critics’ Choice in mid-January. Groups would need to have this done before hand but release these during a lull in a prime holiday/news time.

January 15th-20th: Hold the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes on the same weekend. Cancel out People’s Choice and possibly include more of a people’s vote into the Golden Globes since the nominations there are practically stupid. Leave the first fifteen days of the new year to strict campaigning.

January 22nd: Announce Oscar nominations. This would gain a lot of interest as well since it is tied around the first batch of awards shows and help keep interest.

January 25th-30th: Announce the PGA, WGA and DGA nominations. Keeps interest but won’t “Oscar Overload” people just yet.

February 5th-10th: old the guild awards. Broadcast the WGA and DGA awards since they have a lot of significance for the show as well. Leave the next week to campaigning.

February 15th: Do the Independent Spirit Awards a few days before the Oscars. Give them enough time to hold buzz and show to the American public the impact indie film has.

February 20th: The Oscars. Talent does not get overloaded. People will tune in. It works out. Essentially, the more you involve the public the more they will watch and enjoy the power of film. I know this is probably a little outrageous but this should work for everyone.

Hit and Miss Movies

               I cannot emphasize how long this season is. IT.IS.LONG. The penultimate ceremony does not even occur until the end of February/early march. Nominations are not even released until the end of January!

Technically, the Oscar season begins in MAY at the illustrious Cannes film festival.  May 2011 was the first time we heard about this year’s best picture winner and began the discussion on select films.

Time went on and Telluride and Toronto film festivals in September allowed audiences to form their first coherent pictures of the 2011-2012 Oscar race. The Descendants made its first splash onto the scene at Telluride while Albert Nobbs began putting Glenn Close into the discussion. September also saw the first wide release of the popular Moneyball. The salacious Shame bowed around this time and NC-17 became a prominent factor in campaigns.

Following the discussions that began around this time and then leading up to the nominations, it was interesting to see how strongly favored a movie was in one month and how it practically disappeared in the next.

Here is what I feel are the most notable:

1). Shame- The NC-17 movie was a rare miss. It was powerful and has pushed Michael Fassbender into the position he belongs. Steve McQueen demonstrates he is a talented filmmaker that has a lot left to show us and Carey Mulligan continues to show how versatile and even daring she wants to be when it comes to acting. When it premiered at Telluride, Fox Searchlight execs could not shake the powerful feeling it left and did what they could to “improve” the NC-17 rating but no such luck. The content was explicit (but necessary), but it did make it hard for the powerhouse indie distributor to launch an effective campaign. This film was excellent but execs should have seen it was going to be a hard sell. Keep an eye out for Fassbender and McQueen though.

2). Pariah- The heart-wrenching story of a young woman coming out was predicted to be another huge hit but alas it made no traction. Back in the waning days of summer, pundits predicted this to make some serious impact from filmmaker Dee Rees and ingénue Adepero Oduye but made no serious news when released at the end of the year. It is a shame cause this movie should have been recognized SOME HOW! A powerful story dealing with relevant issue seems like prime Oscar bait but I guess it had too much of an edge to be nominated.

3). Bridesmaids– Who knew a film with shiting in sinks would have a better chance at getting Oscar noms than certain films? When the movie premiered in May, I gave it a shot and really enjoyed it. I wanted to see it since Kristen Wiig is one of the few good reasons to watch SNL and Maya Rudolph is always comedy gold. I was impressed at how deep a comedy this was and I consider this a hit. One issue I will follow this year is the inclusion of more comedy into the Oscars. Bridesmaids have set the bar for future comedy. Comedies that have more emotional depth than simplistic bathroom jokes can have a great shot at being put in the pantheon of the year’s most brilliant films.

4). J.Edgar– This had Oscar all over it: Leo Dicaprio playing a reviled character directed by a legend and working off a script from a previous Oscar winning screenwriter. Sure thing right? Wrong. I liked J. Edgar and I thought Leo and Armie Hammer gave a great performance. Eastwood did fine directing it. I found it stupid that people considered this to be one of the weaker Eastwood films. This should not have prevented a nomination. Leo’s time needs to come. Yes, I’ll admit parts of the film were a bit overdone but Leo still should have been worthy of a nomination. He might not have won but this was definitely a miss.

5). Win Win- I think this was the biggest hit and miss of the year. The beautifully touching film came out last year too soon. Its march premiere shoved it into oblivion when voting came around. This was a total shame since this was a GREAT MOVIE. It was a hit because it got noticed in some circles but was a miss since it did not get the recognition it actually deserved.

I could keep going but these I feel are the most prominent. None of these are real “crash-and-burns” but just movies that surprised us or SHOULD HAVE surprised us more. Leave in the comments what you think was definitely a hit or miss this year. Some other ones: Like Crazy, The Rum Diary, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Snubs and Shockers

               From what I can remember, this has been one of the more predictable awards season. The supporting categories were a lock for a long time and the best acting categories became clearer as we progressed to the finish line.

There were some unwarranted snubs and shocks this year. They had no impact on the overall outcome but still made a lot of people scratch their heads.

For snubs: Leo deserved at least a nomination. I expressed my criticisms already but he still should have been in the best actor category despite not having a chance to win. For best picture, Harry Potter being left off was a crime. There is barely a single franchise that exists in which each installment is well-acted and loved by audiences.

Dragon Tattoo not receiving a nom for best score and direction made no sense as well. Fincher and Reznor are becoming a prominent filmmaking team and it makes no sense they did not receive their due a year after their first all-star collaboration. I am very happy the gorgeous Rooney Mara got her due but the creative side should have gained more respect.

50/50 and Young Adult should have gained screenplay nominations too. They were brave, witty scripts that turned genres on their head. The leads gave great performances and were unjustly ignored.

For shockers: Meryl Streep being up for Iron Lady was bizarre as well. I did not enjoy the movie. Meryl was good but I have seen her in better. Extremely Loud getting a best picture nomination shows that people are terrified of Scott Rudin. Von Sydow was the only deserved one.

Rooney Mara and Michelle Williams getting nominated were a surprise but a welcome one. Melissa McCarthy, not so much. I did enjoy Bridesmaids but I felt the Oscars it was up for were dumb. It was a stunt vote at its finest.

The Big Night

               Most awards reaction articles contain an in-depth summary of the shows and their results but it isn’t necessary. It is all about the Oscars.

My thoughts for this year’s installment were bland. I did not care that the Murphy/Ratner duo was fired and Billy Crystal replaced them. Ratner was a bigot and Eddie was not going to betray the guy who got him the job so Crystal was a smart move.

I am not a big fan of the red carpet.   Think the reporters need to deliver some better questions than “What are you wearing” but I know they have a job to do. The standouts: The Sacha Baron Cohen stunt, Nick Nolte brushing off a reporter’s dumb question and some of the interviews. Overall, nothing that bad. It was an obvious sign the show was going to be a safe one.

Billy did fine hosting. I could hear some of these jokes coming from the older patrons of my family but he did much better than the dreadful, dull duo of 2011. The Help joke and Sammy Davis skit was a bit much but Billy did what he was expected to do. Do we really think the show would have been better if Ratner produced it? Doubtful.

The winners were no surprise. The supporting categories were won by those who were expected and the best picture and actor categories were swept by a certain Frenchman. My biggest concern of the night was Meryl beating out Viola. Viola gave a much more soulful, heart-braking performance in a movie that discussed a serious part of our countries history. Viola was natural. Streep is a fine actress but her win was not deserved. She performed well under a thick sheen of makeup but the film was sub-par. I will probably get criticism for this but I hope this is Streep’s last Oscar. It’s time to let the new generation shine!

The Future of the Blog and Forecasting

This season has been a crazy one but I’m glad it’s over. I wish I could have written more but things happen. I hope everyone keeps reading and please leave me comments about this piece. The blog is going to shift to a more traditional film news outlet with an occasional awards piece.  More Oscar coverage will commence in September and there are already a few films I am keeping an eye on. I am curious to see how these films turn out: Cogan’s Trade, World War Z, Django unchained, both the Lincoln movies and The Dark Knight Rises. We will see but please keep reading and help me keep this blog going!

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