Column: Film and TV

Award season: Oh, the horror

by Anthony Morris , 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.  

  • put gold in your ira

    Hello to every body, it’s my first pay a visit of this weblog; this blog carries awesome and in fact good information in favor of visitors.


Kill Your Darlings

What We’re Reading: Readings staff share their November picks

Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »

9004993292_3d8f026110_z (1)

Samantha Forge

Apples and Oranges: The false economy of the parallel importation debate

The government’s recent decision to support the removal of parallel importation restrictions (PIR) on books shows that it is determined to treat Australian books like oranges. This stance makes it clear that the government sees no particular cultural value in the works of Australian authors, and in the production of Australian literature. Rather, it values above all else the unit price of a book, regardless of its origin. Read more »


Nathan Smith

Letting the Essays Do The Talking: Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth

In the introduction to her essay collection My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum writes that as frank as her essays are, they ‘are not confessions’. The personal essay may have long defined Daum, but she is far from a ‘confessional writer’, a title she has long resisted. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Rebecca Varcoe

In defence of professional cheerleading

My name is Rebecca and I’m a 26-year-old woman with a shameful secret, for which I refuse to be ashamed any longer. Today I want to confess my obsession and one true love, the subject of many rants and late-night tweeting frenzies: Cheerleading. American, All-Star Cheerleading. Read more »


Adam Rivett

Tell Me, Princess: The evolution of Disney’s princess songs

Two years ago today, Disney’s Frozen was unleashed upon the world. As far as rapacious corporate behemoths go, it’s one of the more appealing, and remains surprisingly resilient to repeat screenings. But at the heart of its achievement sits one indisputable melodic and cultural phenomenon: ‘Let It Go’. Read more »


James Tierney

Bodily Limits: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspiria suffered from a critical eclipse and a variety of censored prints, and was largely cherished in its original form by aficionados of the field. A reassessment has been building, something sure to be aided by the forthcoming publication of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ perceptive and elegantly written monograph. Read more »

je tu il elle 2

Eloise Ross

Existence as Minimalism: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Images of a young woman, emptying her small flat of furniture, blocking the window and sitting in the dark, still. Sitting on a mattress in a bare room, furiously writing letters with a pencil and watching the snow through the window. Meeting with a past lover and reuniting on-screen. I think about Chantal Akerman’s films more often than I can say. Read more »


Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »


Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »

kiss copy

Jane Howard

Great Aspirations: In the shadow of Patrick White

The text of The Aspirations of Daise Morrow is lifted directly from Patrick White’s short story ‘Down at the Dump’. It’s a wonderful thing to hear White’s judicious use of language; to understand the eyes through which he saw Australia; and to see an entire world of his creation brought to life in the theatre. Read more »