Monday, January 18, 2010

Reflections In A Golden Globe---Sunday Journal

Random thoughts on why I loved Movie Awards like the Golden Globes once, and why watching them now sort of feels like I'm looking at sentimental photographs of friends who have forever lost touch, or passed on.....

When I was a kid, I lived for movies and movie award shows.  I read as many reviews I could get my hands on, and in that way I began to put together a set of criteria about the worth of a film and its must-see factor, based on critical consensus. Since the MPAA rating system was strictly enforced in our house, I was restricted from seeing the very films the critics held up as examples of the most topical, artistic, exciting and powerful films in release; in other words, the movies I just HAD to see.  It was then that Oscar and Golden Globe came to the rescue.  The best chance I had to convince my parents to take me to adult-themed movies, like "M*A*S*H" or  "The Godfather", was if these movies received the imprimatur of the industry, the stamp of approval the awards conferred on these pictures. 

With earnest study of film, I looked at Award-nominated and winning pictures as one of my guideposts to notions of quality.  Of course I soon learned that the awards were not always to be taken seriously, that voting was often haphazard or subject to popularity, or bribes, or other things that had nothing to do with "art" or "science"

Even so, I think there was a more sincere effort at the time to recognize the best, and there was some comfort in knowing that a movie, or performance, was outstanding enough to be elevated as an example of the finest work the industry had to offer. 

I enjoyed it too, and became a pretty good expert in Oscar and awards trivia. 

More on my Awards Odyssey fact, it's shaping up into an actual novel !  Suffice it to to say that in the last few years there has been a growing disenchantment, a sense that the Award organizations have lost their way, fear that they are becoming irrelevant, and to survive have lowered the bar to match the expectations of the viewers they need so much. 

Some thoughts on tonight's show...

--Mo' Nique, Meryl Streep, the Screenplay Award for "Up In The Air"...  Good choices, respectable choices.  "Avatar" for best picture was seemingly inevitable.  The pleasures to be had from "Avatar" are to the aesthetics of movies as Graphic Novels are to literature; will a Graphic Novel ever win a literary prize, beautiful and artistic as it may be?  While there is room for both,  it's odd to see them honored as the same.

--"The Hangover"....REALLY?  Is this gold-standard filmmaking? Okay, maybe you and I know that that isn't what it's all about....but to today's young aspiring filmmakers and writers, an award like this can "inspire" them to emulate "The Hangover"....and we'll eventually get more of the same...and worse.

--Gabourey Sibide: I almost wept again watching her film clip from "Precious, as raw and honest a portrayal as I have seen all year...perhaps for many years. I hoped her name would be called. It wasn't.

--"Sherlock Holmes"....REALLY?  Robert Downey Jr. as one of the finest examples of film acting this year? 

--"Avatar" was one of 2 big winners tonight with two--count 'em--two awards.  Only one other picture matched this...."Crazy Heart"!  (The eleventh-hour campaign might just sweep this latter film to unlikely Oscar gold.... ) 

--"Nine" went empty-handed...there is a calculated effort to bury this film, simply because most people didn't get it, or were flummoxed by its pace and subject and found nothing "exciting" in it, or are still cowed by the likes of Roger Ebert who harped on it like a demented scold (he also  hated "All That Jazz" in 1979...go figure...)

--As empty handers did "Single Man"....  "Hurt Locker" was shut out too....

--This was a more reserved, less uninhibited party than we're accustomed to.  The events of the world seemed to be on the minds of many in the room, as evidenced by the large red ribbons worn, and a few of the more thoughtful speeches (Meryl...) 

In all, we enjoyed the telecast...and especially, the montage of Martin Scorsese's films.   What a marvelous piece of exciting filmmaking it was, too, better even than many of the movies included in the clip.  I criticize Scorsese a lot because he is such a great talent and I want greatness from him all the time.  I guess if I'm honest with myself, he is one of my last heroes in the industry, one who is committed to reminding new audiences of the pleasures of the movies I have loved all my life...many of them Golden-Globe and Oscar-winners. 

February 2--Oscar Nominations.  And the story of how my heart was Broke- back in 2005.- and my love for Oscar  simply Crashed.


  1. As I said, I was on board with Avatar's win - a surprisingly fresh choice. I don't know award shows haven't changed, I think, we have. I mean, I'm still young but I was OBSESSED!!! Globes have always been a little weird, we just have to wait and see if Oscars follow suit. Still, I'm distancing myself from the race. I get too involved, and inevitably crushed when favourites lose.

  2. I was delighted that they allowed Zoe Saldana to shine by airing that Avatar clip.

    She's almost a mirror-image of Halle Berry in terms of raw emotion. (btw, kudoos to her for showing up last night to get her name back out there....hopefully she's coming back to Sundance with "Frankie and Alice."

    And speaking of the 11th Hour campaign, I'm beginning it could work in Downey's favor (to your dismay). And if that were so, Colin Firth might just lose out.....a big might.

  3. I've never given much credence to movie awards shows as an indicator of how good a film is. The whole process is so subjective that what's popular for some (ie. Avatar) falls far short for others. We all have our favorite stars, directors, etc. and to me that is a big variable in determining what will be the final outcome. Still, they are fun to watch and a great way to preview films you haven't seen yet. Nice post, Tom! Looking forward to that novel of yours!

  4. Andrew, I think what I see different now, especially with internet and so many entertainment programs, is a whole culture of prognostication, so that the point of a film seems to be its award potential. In some ways, and I fault myself too, we have lost our ability to see a film on its own merit whether or not it wind awards.
    Nigel--Welcome! I liked Saldana too... Firth's performance transcended mere awards..and so, I expect he will have no chance at an Oscar.
    Tom--I agree with you. I do think that at some point in the past, there was a real intention to honor greatness and not popularity... But that ended long ago.
    Thanks everyone! I'm glad you visitied.