KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Column: Film and TV

Award season: Oh, the horror

by Imogen , February 13, 20132 Comments

Photo credit: Alexis Fam Photography

Everybody loves the Hollywood awards season. It’s a magical time of year when all your favourite stars get dressed up to the nines to receive awards honouring them for all their hard work – and I’m sorry, it’s only the second sentence and already I want to throw up. The awards season is a cancer on the world of film – a self-promoting prostitution of everything that the movies should be about in a desperate attempt to get the tabloid press to pay attention to something that is technically an ‘art form’. It’s safe to say I’m not a fan.

For those few who are blissfully unaware, awards season grinds out over a few months and covers a whole range of awards ceremonies, from the UK’s BAFTAs and Australia’s much-maligned AACTAs to the various technical guilds in the USA. Recognising hard work is something no sane individual could object to, but these awards aren’t about that. The whole point of these lesser ceremonies is that they herald the coming of this month’s Academy Awards – the only coverage any of the other awards get is ‘what does this mean for the Academy Awards?’

If the groups handing out the awards cared about their individual awards, maybe they’d hold them after the Oscars. But just like the notoriously dubious Golden Globes – an event voted on by less than a hundred nobodies and designed entirely to promote ‘The Golden Globes’ by making sure the films nominated are a) already popular, and b) in the running for an Oscar – these awards are merely riding Oscars’ coattails down the red carpet. The Oscars are the Superbowl of film, the Grand Final of creativity in the art form.

The worst thing about awards season is…well, it’s not really possible to single out one ‘worst thing’ as there are so many elements competing for that dubious honour and ugh, see how easily the evil of awards-based competition takes hold? Even a simple declarative sentence is corrupted by the ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ ideal that these awards symbolise. The arts should be free of this worship of competition, an area where your own individual response to the art in question is the only thing that matters. But history has taught us that your personal fondness for Fast and Furious 5 isn’t going to get 30 seconds of red carpet footage aired at the end of the nightly news.

The worst thing about awards season is that, at a time when we are supposedly celebrating the rise of the nerd and the knowledge-based egalitarian culture this archetype brings, movie awards continue to drag film in the opposite direction. Movie awards take art and turn it into a fight – with a fashion show bolted on. They take something for nerds, and turn it into something for jocks and cheerleaders. It’s not about enjoying the films on their merits: it’s about ‘teams’ and winning, dammit.

The Oscars are little more than a blood-free boxing match with the actresses on the red carpet playing the part of ring girls. It’s not like being crowned the winner means anything in a quality sense. While this year comparing Argo and Zero Dark Thirty sort of makes sense, as they’re both movies about the CIA saving the West from sinister Middle Eastern types, how do you compare them to Lincoln? To Silver Linings Playbook? To Beasts of the Southern Wild? Apart from the year of release and the English language, what do these films have in common that anyone can say makes one somehow ‘better’ than the rest? And if they can’t be compared, what are we talking about here?

Getting dressed up is fun, the ceremony can often be entertaining in itself and if you want to give yourselves awards I say go for it. Just don’t pretend those awards have anything to do with quality. Financial success is measured in box office returns; everything else is judged by history. Who remembers last year’s Academy Award winners, let alone those of a decade ago? In case you’ve forgotten, The Artist was 2012’s big winner, taking out Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor; not even 365 days later, does anyone really think that was the best film of that year?

No Sally, I really don’t.

 

Anthony Morris is a Killings columnist and has been reviewing films for almost 20 years for a variety of publications, many of which have closed down through no fault of his own. Though his insistence on reviewing every single Adam Sandler movie may have played a part.  




West Bank

David Donaldson

Whitewashing occupation? Bill Shorten and the Israel Lobby

Racism and military occupation have no place in the modern world, and are certainly not something looked upon favourably by a majority of Australians. Yet while apartheid, for example, has become a byword for shame and racism, the Labor Opposition leader feels comfortable asserting that some Israeli West Bank settlements are legal. Read more »

Tony Abbott

David Donaldson

Abbott and Brandis’ culture war backfires

What is supposed to happen in a culture war is that conservatives use a controversial issue to drive a ‘wedge’ through the left, forcing a split between factions. In Australia, this usually means pitting Catholic unionists against their socially liberal colleagues in the Labor party. Read more »

climate change

David Donaldson

Australia is going backwards on climate policy

During the Howard years, it was usual for Australia to be awarded ‘Fossil of the Day’ by climate advocacy groups whenever it attended a climate negotiation conference. The award signifies the country that had done the most to hinder climate change negotiations, and Australia has won a pile of them. Read more »

Zoe Pilger

Carody Culver

Girls, eat your hearts out

Middle class hipsters, conceptual artists and third-wave feminists have long been easy targets for mockery, so I admit that I wasn’t expecting anything too groundbreaking when I picked up Zoe Pilger’s Eat My Heart Out, a satirical romp through contemporary London that reads like a surreal mash-up of Broad City, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Less Than Zero. Read more »

Laika, Astronaut Dog

Carody Culver

Houston, we have a fabrication

As someone who doesn’t have children, I’m no less resistant than any of my book-loving friends-with-kids to the charm of a beautiful picture book. So when I spotted Laika: Astronaut Dog by writer and illustrator Owen Davey, with its charming retro-style artwork Read more »

& Sons

Carody Culver

WASPiration: David Gilbert’s & Sons

As someone who’s always secretly aspired to being a WASP (before you mercilessly judge me for this, I should clarify that my desire has less to do with attaining elevated social and financial status than with being able to dress like a character in The Great Gatsby Read more »

American Pickers

Julia Tulloh

Eccentric junk collectors held high on American Pickers

The History Channel’s American Pickers, currently in its sixth season, is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable reality series on TV. It’s not a competition show, it doesn’t exist to objectify people and it isn’t particularly dramatic. So what’s the appeal? Read more »

Justin Timberlake

Julia Tulloh

Pleasantly forgettable: Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience

On 7 March this year, tickets went on sale for the Australian leg of Justin Timberlake’s latest tour, ‘The 20/20 Experience’. All five shows sold out in a few hours. The same day, five new shows were released, with most tickets for these rapidly selling out too. Read more »

BuzzFeed

Julia Tulloh

BuzzFeed quizzes understand me

If you use social media regularly – Facebook, in particular – you’ll have completed a BuzzFeed quiz during the past month. Don’t deny it. Even if you didn’t share your results online, deep down you’re still feeling smug because the ‘What Should You Actually Eat For Lunch?’ quiz confirmed that eating ice cream was, in fact, an appropriate meal for your personality type. Read more »

The Lego Movie

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Nostalgia and today’s family-friendly films

Hollywood has always known the adults are watching alongside the kids, and that to push a film into record profits (as Lego looks set to do with a global box office of $428 million and counting), you need to appeal to ‘kids of all ages’. Read more »

nympho-poster

Rochelle Siemiennowicz

Weirdos on screen: Noah and Nymphomaniac

There are some filmmakers you’ll follow into the dark, no matter how bad the buzz is about their latest work. For me, naughty boy Lars von Trier (The Idiots, Breaking the Waves, Dogville, Antichrist, Melancholia) and strange kid Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) are two filmmakers who can be loved or detested, but never ignored. Read more »

planes

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Notes from a plane

There’s an art to choosing the right film for every particular occasion, and as I nervously sit in a Qantas jet about to take off on a four-hour flight from Melbourne to Perth, the choice seems very important indeed. Read more »

Samsung fingers

Connor Tomas O'Brien

‘Fooled’ by technology

As I browsed the web last Tuesday, something struck me: tech companies can no longer pull off compelling April Fools’ Day hoaxes because there’s no longer even the thinnest line delineating sincerity from spoof. Read more »

wifi

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Flight 370 and gaps in the internet

On Twitter the other day, sandwiched between a slew of links to articles about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, somebody tweeted a link to the website for Tile, a Bluetooth-enabled device that can be attached to physical objects, enabling them to be located within a 150-foot range. Read more »

IMG_3267

Clipped: What would Susan Sontag say about always-on cameras?

As I write this, a tiny camera clipped to my shirt collar is silently taking a picture every thirty seconds. At the end of the day, I will plug my Narrative Clip into my MacBook, and it will upload half a gigabyte of images to the Cloud. … Read more »

Young Adulthood Books

Danielle Binks

The young adult books of my young adulthood

In March, Penguin Books Australia rereleased Melina Marchetta’s first novel as part of its Australian Children’s Classics series. Looking for Alibrandi was first published in 1992; the first print run sold out in two months, and Marchetta’s debut went on to win the Children’s Book Council of Australia Children’s Book of the Year Award. Read more »

When You Reach Me

Danielle Binks

A children’s lit prize of one’s own

Earlier this year, Readings Bookstore announced the creation of The Readings Children’s Book Prize. The eligibility criteria for the 2014 Prize was specified as ‘a work of published fiction, written for children aged 5–12’. Read more »

The Fault with a Sick-Lit Debate (1)

Danielle Binks

The fault with a sick-lit debate

American author John Green’s young adult (YA) novel The Fault in Our Stars has been a bestselling juggernaut since its release in 2012. Green’s book was somewhat inspired by his friendship with Esther Earl, whose posthumous memoir This Star Won’t Go Out was released in January this … Read more »

music theory

Chad Parkhill

Do music critics need music theory?

Canadian musician Owen Pallett – the man who arranged the strings on Arcade Fire’s albums, co-wrote the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Her, and has a bunch of wonderful solo albums – can now add another feather to his cap: that of an engaging music writer. Read more »

Tune Yards

Chad Parkhill

Drips, leaks, and spurts

I’ve spent the last two weeks in a state of perpetual excitement – musically speaking, that is. First came tUnE-yArDs’ new song, ‘Water Fountain’, a joyous, riotous explosion of colour and movement. Then Swans released ‘A Little God in My Hands’, a seven-minute epic of a track … Read more »

Grandma photoshop

Chad Parkhill

Singing out

My maternal grandmother, Merilai Lilburn, recently died in a nursing home in Katikati, New Zealand, of complications arising from pneumonia. She was 82 years old. At the time of her death, I and the other members of our extended family based in Australia Read more »

Community

Stephanie Van Schilt

Diary of a lurker: TV and Twitter

At the end of last month, global information provider Nielsen announced that Australia was to become the third country in the world with the ‘Nielsen TV Twitter Ratings’ service. According to a Nielsen Company press release, the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are ‘the first-ever measure of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter’. Read more »

Broad City

Stephanie Van Schilt

Funny Broads

‘All comparisons between Girls and Broad City should be hereto forth banned from the internet.’ I agree with Katherine Brooks. Yet the comparisons continue, ad nauseam, mostly following one of two lines of thought. Read more »

The Carrie Diaries

Stephanie Van Schilt

‘Alive Girl’ TV: The Carrie Diaries

Get ready to feel old: it’s been ten years since the final episode of Sex and the City aired. I’m not talking about the first episode back in 1998, but the final episode – the one before the two questionable movies were released. Read more »