MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Let The Premature Awardulation Begin!!!

A 20 Weeks Special

Ah, as the temperatures finally drop from the 80s in Los Angeles, it’s time to start giving out year end awards months before the year has ended.

Now, there are two classes of premature awardulation. There is the sincere and well-intended. That would be your Gotham Awards.

Desperately trying to compete for attention and position ahead of the Independent Spirit Awards, from the IFP-jumping FIND of Los Angeles (independent film AND an iPhone app that shows you where the liquor stores are!), IFP pushed The Gothams to the very start of the season a few years ago. Thing is, as breathtakingly stupid as a year-end awards show being set in October, with no really clear rules for what is indie, the punchline is that they have a really fun party that the indie universe, housed mostly in New York, really seems to enjoy. And bully for them. It has no sway over Oscar or any other awards, but anhonor is an honor and God bless multiple nominees Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right, Tiny Furniture, and everyone else. Have a good time.

On the other hand, you have the cynical, ugly, somewhat desperate awards known as The Hollywood Movie Awards aka Carlos de Abreu Lines His Pockets With Hollywood’s Money Because They All Want A Foothold On The Season & They Will Take An Award In A Butcher Shop In October If It Might Get Them One.

I don’t really understand how studios continue to pony up to what is basically a con by de Abreu. He has “an advisory board,” which I was once on. Our meetings consisted of a couple of lunches a year, seeking insight into who might be Oscar nominated, which actor had a better chance than the other one, etc. Basically it was like he was trying to do a Gurus o’ Gold chart over the summer, since he was handing out awards in October. Carlos works with the studios to see who they can deliver, how many tables they will buy in the same Bev Hilton ballroom that will hold The Golden Globes in January, and makes up awards to match the talent he can land. If you don’t think the award fits, Carlos is more than happy to adjust it… just as long as the talent will show up.

Carlos is not a dumb guy. He is a very clever con. How else could he get Sean Penn, a very serious guy, to show up? He’s this year’s “Hollywood Humanitarian.” And getting Penn probably made it easier to get Robert Duvall to show up to get his “Hollywood Actor Award.” And that makes it seem less desperate for Annette Bening to show up to “win” her “Hollywood Actress Award.” And Helena Bonham Carter and Sam Rockwell, and so on.

Carlos also smartly honors more below-the-line talent than any show other than the Oscars. Honor Zimmer and Pfister and you likely get Nolan & DiCaprio to show up.

And why doesn’t the media burn this thing to the ground… even as much as they try to tear down the more legit Golden Globes/HFPA, which is still only 80something dubious journalists with a TV show, but is still not just one guy handing out statues and selling tables to studios for personal profit? Well, who wants to say that Wally Pfister doesn’t deserve awards? I don’t. He deserves the love. And I am happy that Duvall is out on the awards circuit. He deserves recognition for Get Low. Etc. Who wants to be the prick to say to them, “What the HELL are you doing accepting a clown award at a small town rodeo?” And who wants to embarrass the publicists, consultants, and studio execs who talked the talent into going to the show?

No one.

Not even me.

But every once in a while, someone needs to say it out loud… because everyone says it privately. Well, everyone who even knows what you are talking about when you bring the show up.

Taking home multiple “Carloses” will be The Social Network (4), Inception (3, given that the fix is in for Leo to win the Audience Poll at Yahoo!), and The King’s Speech (2). With only Duvall representing, Sony Classics might not even buy a table – the exception that proves the rule – with Duvall sitting with Penn (sure Carlos is working Summit to buy a table, even though he’s not officially there for Fair Game. Searchlight and Disney are each accepting 2 awards, so each might buy one table. Focus got a biggie, so they are probably in for a table. And whose table does Zach Galifianakis sit at, Focus or Warners… Annette or Leo?

The sad thing about this one-man awards show is that none of these people need the show, the award, or the smell of crap on their shoes. There is not a weak player on this list. Great actors. Great talent behind the camera. They are all in the game, as Carlos knows, and this silly event will not move the big bar a single inch.

The Globes, absurd as it is, became “important” because it has millions of eyeballs right in the flow of the Oscar season. It has become a place to be seen and to reassert your Oscar goals. Getting a Hollywood Movie Award is a little like having sex with the slut at college. Neither of you much remember what happened. No one else much cares, since they all know how low the bar for entry was. And all you have left to show from the encounter is a odd little “award” that you notice every once in a while and hope isn’t herpes.

The one good thing about this moment is that we now have about six weeks before we have to hear from the ridiculous National Board Of Reviewing Their Ability To Get Talent To Jump For No Real Reason and then, the onslaught.

6 Responses to “Let The Premature Awardulation Begin!!!”

  1. Joe Leydon says:

    Hey, you think Carlos might be looking for new advisory board members? Looks like the National Board of Review is never going to come through with that membership offer.

  2. David Poland says:

    If you lived here and he only had one or two others from Variety, free lunch might well be coming your way.

  3. Dan Krovich says:

    I follow awards to a decent extent (Hell, I even pay some attention to the Golden Satellites), and I’ve never heard of the “Carlos Awards.” That’s probably why the media doesn’t bother trying to “burn it to the ground.” I assume it’s just a very Los Angeles insider thing.

  4. sanj says:

    DP – hang outside the awards and if Leo shows up – ask
    him to do a dp/30…

  5. “why doesn’t the media burn this thing to the ground”

    Because, ultimately, who gives a shit? Pointless in the grand scheme. It just is. No victims here. No gun to anyone’s head. Taking on the 80-member HFPA is worth it because of the strong-arming.

  6. Wally Pfister says:

    Fucking hilarious dude!!
    Spot on. Im laughing all the way to the buffet table.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin