There’s a conundrum this year within the awards ceremony realm and that is There Will Be Blood. It’s a big, bold film detailing the outer rise of an oil man Daniel Plainview and his inner fall as a man. It’s a film that’s been nominated for numerous Golden Globe Awards, and has now been nominated for SAG Awards, and will surely be nominated for an Oscar or two. And it certainly deserves to be. I go into extensive detail in my review.
The bewildering thing isn’t that the movie doesn’t deserve these nominations, it’s that no one has seen it. Even before it’s limited release it was nominated for the Globes. Now in limited release it’s up for SAG awards. It’s definitely helped its financial take generating curious spectators to see the film. In 2 theatres over the New Years Holiday weekend it made $302,845 (as reported by boxofficemojo.com). I was lucky enough to find a seat in one of those theatres and it was playing on two screens!
No doubt Blood is a movie that will thrive on it’s nominations. But it makes me wonder at the fairness. Many movies are passed over come award season because they didn’t make a dent at the box office. Take David Fincher’s incredible film Zodiac for instance. It was released at the beginning of 2007 and is probably one of the best directed, written and acted films of the year. It’s on a lot of critics top lists, but critics don’t decide for the big ceremonies. Or Sidney Lumet’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Again a film that was very much over looked by audiences (though not critics) and now is being over looked by awards ceremonies. If Devil had been a foreign film it would probably be getting more attention. That’s the way it works. Imagine if There Will Be Blood had been released over Thanksgiving weekend, or late October like Elizabeth: The Golden Age had and bombed with audiences. How much of a chance would it have had in getting nominations other than Best Actor? I don’t know. But the closer the movie comes out to the nominations the less it seems to matter. In the Valley of Elah should have gotten far more attention than it has, but no one went to see it, so nominating committees will feel stupid nominating it, even though it‘s just as good as Crash, and that won best picture! And yes, I say stupid. There’s isn’t a more fickle, trepidatious and sensitive bunch than the people that are making your movies, and they don’t like looking wrong when it comes financial misses equating to Oscar Gold.
To be fair a lot of Critics’ awards are going to Blood, and they see their films at festivals earlier in the year.
One way that awards are now given out during awards months is through the viewing of screeners. I know a Producer who has a stack of about 40 movies on DVD that have been sent to him. Most of the time he will watch only the movies that are being talked about as potential winners, and yet he still hasn’t seen No Country for Old Men.
One way the Academy helps keep things in check for the Oscars with the foreign and short film categories is that you have to go to screenings and check in so that they know you’ve been to each film before you can vote. At least this is how it was 3 years ago. I’d have to ask to see if it’s the same.
Last year the Academy also pushed back the awards ceremony to give viewers more time to see the films making it more fair, but I don’t see this solving any problems. In fact my feeling is that the movies nominated and the ones that will eventually win are going to be even more influenced based on what’s won before.
This is just a little something to think about as we head into the awards season. It’s the first in a couple I’ll write. And the biggest question is how can There Will Be Blood win best kiss at the MTV Movie Awards when there are so few women in the movie? But I bet it will get nominated!