Friday, January 15, 2016

#41 - Awards Season! - January, 2016

Awards season in L.A. is a funny period of time. We’ve had the Golden Globes and the People’s Choice Awards already. Coming up are the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Awards, the Directors and Producers Guild Awards, then my favorite, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and of course the Oscars.

Everyone in L.A. both loves and hates this whole time of year.

I am qualified to vote in the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards.
For the record, it doesn’t matter where you live as you read this, anyone reading this right now, could vote in the Spirit Awards. All you have to do is pay your $95 yearly membership fee to Film Independent, and presto, you get to watch free films.

There are so many screenings happening for free, there is not enough time in the day to attend them all. As I write this I could be arranging to screen a dozen films over the upcoming 3-day weekend, but in reality I will skip most of them.

I have no connection to the Oscars, but I’ve talked to several people who do, and they all seem to share a love/hate relationship with the whole process.

Maybe the reason is that in the end it only sort of matters, which means that it also sort of doesn’t matter who wins, who loses, who is ‘snubbed,’ or who is a surprise winner.

20 years ago I worked for two days as an Extra and a Stand-in on ‘Forrest Gump.’ I had an insignificant 2-day job, and none of the important people on that film will ever remember my presence. I was hired to be one of the ‘All-American’ college football players that meets President John F. Kennedy, and when I arrived was also given the behind-the-scenes job of standing in Kennedy’s place while the lighting crew set up the lights. I will go to my grave, though, proudly boasting that I worked on one Oscar winner. But I recently googled the other nominees from that year and discovered what I had forgotten. The far superior ‘Shawshank Redemption’ lost out to Gump, and that is all you need to know about the Oscars. Winning means nothing. Winning probably means you were the second or third best film of that year (in 1969 Stanley Kubrik famously lost the Directing award for 2001 to Carol Reed and the musical Oliver).

I try to take the job of voting seriously. I mean, it’s important to me that Hollywood has some alternative way to gauge success besides the skewed value of box office numbers. But let’s be honest, it is a very flawed system.

I’m not going to name any names, or review any particular film, but I went to a screening recently, my first time inside the posh offices of CAA – one of the top, maybe THE top Agency in the business – at the Ray Kurztman theater (or is it Roy? Jay?). The film was, well, let’s say I just wasn’t buying into it. I thought it was 'okay,' but by no means a great film. I was so disappointed, because I like the guy who wrote the screenplay. I had high hopes for it. I left the screening frustrated at what passes for a 'great’ film.

A few days later the Oscar nominations were announced, and there it was, smack in the middle of the list of nominees for best film of the year.

I twisted my head a little and laughed.

Oh well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The producers are happy, I guess.

It’s still better to have awards than not.

I’m always surprised at how many people have not heard of the Spirit Awards. I’ve been watching them for years. They happen Saturday, the day before the Oscars, and they’re more watchable because no one dresses up (I’ve always felt that I could never go to the Oscars, because I would be sure to vomit directly on someone’s $20,000 gown).

So….watch the Spirit Awards. Then skip the Oscars. No, wait, Chris Rock is hosting. I guess I could handle watching some of the show to see him.

Just know that there’s one film on that Best Film list that, if it wins, I’ll be laughing at the absurdity of it all.
-Peter Wick

January 15, 2016