As awards season is nearing its dramatic end with the Oscars, we’re starting to see the difference between awards that matter to marketers, distributors and the bottom-line men over at the movie studios and the awards that really matter to the people actually involved in making films on a creative level. I’m sure that every actor loves to get an Oscar, but at the end of the day, its biggest impact is at the box office, or rental shack (or torrent site). At the same time, it is an award that one is given from a group of one’s peers. Only those involved in making films and have been selected to vote are able to cast their ballots, so recipients of an Oscar can certainly glean some satisfaction from that.
The Golden Globes are a kind of preview to what we might expect at the Oscars, but the difference between the two evenings is that the GG awards are voted on by members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Now, this is what one might dub a “double-edged sword” as those voting are both knowledgeable and in tune with the subject matter they’re voting on, but at the end of the day, a critic’s job is to voice an opinion, and there are enough of those critics out there that enjoy ruffling feathers that the awards are often as much of a surprise to the recipients as they are to those watching. With all the politicizing and the campaigning that go into the Oscars, the Golden Globes are often the catalyst that pushes an Oscar nominee towards a victory on Oscar night.
To my mind, it actually makes them a bit more interesting to watch than the Oscars. In recent memory, most will recall how Atonement was a surprise winner over No Country For Old Men last year. It was also a pleasure to see Forrest Whittaker win for his portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
This year, there are some surprise nominations, to be sure. Tom Cruise was nominated for a role that nobody ever thought they’d see him do, but it’s sure to be no surprise who the winner in that category will be. Conventional wisdom and sentiment dictate that it must go to Heath Ledger and, if it doesn’t, I’ll be as surprised as anyone.
The best film and best screenplay categories are tough ones this year, but if Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t win, then something is very wrong with those voting. This is absolutely the best film of the year in so many respects. Brilliant acting from an unknown cast, wonderful cinematography and just, quite simply, masterful storytelling make this one the obvious choice. But when you’re dealing with critics, nothing is ever obvious.
The surprise that I really want to see is Mickey Rourke beating out Sean Penn in the best performance by an actor category. Sean Penn did a great job bringing the persona of Harvey Milk to the screen, but Mickey Rourke completely broke my heart in his stellar and understated portrayal of a down and out boxer attempting to come to grips with the reality of his life and mend a relationship with his daughter.
Like always, we won’t know what happens until the night in question, so we’ll all just have to wait with bated breath to find out what the answers are going to be. While we’ll never know which awards mean the most to those who win them, I’m sure we all have something invested in the outcome, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem. Because we love movies, we want to see those that entertained us the best in the last year take home the honors. It will never mean as much to us as it does to them, but it is definitely an exciting time of year.