With the festive season rapidly approaching its climax with New Year’s Day this Thursday, many pop culture fans will find solace in the fact that the awards season remains in full swing until the Oscars in late February 2015.
Awards season invariably brings with it the seemingly endless discussion over whether or not awards for filmmaking (or the creative arts in general) actually matter. Proponents will argue that the awards season represents a much-needed opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the premier filmmakers working in the industry today; detractors will describe the whole thing as a months-long, extravagant exercise in backpatting and self-congratulation that ultimately has no actual impact on the craft itself.
So does awards season matter?
The answer, as with so many things in life, is yes…and no.
Certainly, it matters to film studios, as nominations (not to mention a win) in any of the “big five” Academy Award categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay) generally boosts box office performance to differing degrees, and this is of course helped by nods in the corresponding categories at other ceremonies like the Golden Globes.
This has a positive outcome for the craft of filmmaking, as it can mean that a quirky, original movie nominated for Best Picture can become a success, in the process widening the taste of the mainstream audience and furthering the careers of the artists involved.
Speaking of the creatives, awards season also matters to them. As mentioned earlier, the various awards ceremonies celebrate the talents of the many talented people who work in film and television. On some level, everyone likes to be praised for doing good work, and filmmakers are no different.
How does this benefit the art form? By providing encouragement to those honoured to continue pushing the envelope, as well as fostering a bit of a healthy sense of competition in those who missed out this time around.
(On that note, George C. Scott famously turned down his Best Actor Oscar for his towering performance in Patton on the grounds that he didn’t feel comfortable putting himself in competition with his fellow performers; Marlon Brando also (in)famously turned down his Best Actor Oscar for his immortal turn in The Godfather for…reasons.)
Clearly, an argument can be made for the significance of awards season to filmmakers themselves, as well as to the art form overall, but what about from the movie fan’s point of view? Well, taken from that perspective, awards season really does not matter.
Sure, it can be nice to see filmmakers you admire receive yet another gong, and there is something to be said for the sense of tradition that accompanies proceedings. Let’s also not forget the convenience factor: after all, awards buzz is always helpful when you’re keen for a night out at the flicks but have no idea what to see.
However, in the end, if you love a film, awards are utterly irrelevant – adding them into the equation won’t make you enjoy it any more than you would otherwise (unless you’re ridiculously pretentious and need plaudits to validate your sense of personal taste, which seems unlikely if you’re reading this blog).
Similarly, if a film you don’t care for wins awards, it’s not going to change how you feel about the film (unless you are one of the aforementioned pretentious types, in which case, how have you breached my defences? HOW?!).
So that’s it really: awards season matters to people within the industry and has an overall positive impact on the film making craft, but doesn’t really have any significance for those of us rocking up to the local multiplex just looking to be entertained (or at the very least, engaged) for a couple of hours on a lazy afternoon.