Sadly it would seem we are again in awards season, which has all the usual press circus and related publicity fracas. Cate Blanchett’s role is excellent in Blue Jasmine in the well written and directed film by Woody Allen, but does this mean that she will win an award, even though there are 5 months left to go?
In previous years, it seems always the same tips and nods, cheering and championing. Who remembers the calls for Clooney to win best actor for Michael Clayton ( silly he had only won two years before!) Millions are spent on pre-Oscar buzz, developing the idea in the Oscar electorate that a certain film, actor or actress is the best. Sometimes however this doesn’t quite live up to the investment, when Mickey Rouke was everywhere for the Wrestler he didn’t seem to be anywhere on Oscar night as Sean Penn walked off with the Oscar.
Everyone knows that an Oscar adds value to a films take home. It currently adds about a million dollars more for smaller films like the Artist ( Best Picture Winner) and for big films 10 million more (No Country for old Men bounced thanks to its Oscars) and this explains why films get re-released (Gladiator did just before Oscar season) or why a massive focus on ad’s in trade magazines, on demand video services (The Silence of the Lambs) feature in campaigns now.
The other rule of successful campaigns for Oscars now is the hold back and re-edit of films. Many films considered award worthy are kept back for release, sometimes even after it has been screened at a previous award ceremony. In the case of Apocalypse Now, Cannes saw a ‘work in progress’ cut, then a complete version was released in August for a long Oscar run. In recent times Avatar has been pushed on to more screens in its run up to the awards, as has The Return of the King all to various levels of success.
With awards for acting and directing however, as they are more given to a person and their body of work it can run in very different ways. Russell Crowe and Robert Redford being examples of both an almost hit and a total miss. Crowe was a dead cert for the Oscar for a brilliant performance in A Beautiful Mind but a few weeks before the awards, right during voting season threw a tantrum at the BAFTA awards, then threw a phone at a hotel reception and Oscar suicide was complete. Redford on the other hand pressed the flesh and pushed the right people but when nominations were out for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid he was nowhere to be seen. The real reason was simple, too nice a guy, too good-looking and well we all get annoyed at that. He would have to wait ten years and win as a director, for the film Ordinary People.
Finally, the rules are less accurate for leading ladies as they have to balance a healthy dose of cinematic envy with the judgement of physical appearance. Many win for de- glam roles, Halle Berry (Monsters Ball), Charlize Theron (Monster) and even Angelina Jolie (Girl Interrupted). But with it comes the Oscar curse that most leading ladies seem to be cast upon – divorce or being cheated upon, which all three females suffered.
So are Oscars a good thing? Sure they boost your movie income, they give you better scripts, but a lot of effort is put in to promote some movies whilst others are overshadowed and sometimes winning is much more like losing.