Sunday, January 11, 2009

Awards season

Noel and I have come home from a rare evening out for dinner together, and we've turned on the Golden Globes. People who know that we write about film and pop culture usually assume we care a great deal about year-end awards. They're right, and they're wrong. We care far less about the awards as an actual indicator of quality, but we care far more about them in terms of analyzing every category and microscopically nitpicking the presentation than the average viewer.

I think a lot of serious cineastes profess to hate the glitzy Hollywood awards. But those of us who stand somewhere in between the highest elite of film lovers and the general public -- often trying to communicate the concerns of one side to the other -- have a love-hate relationship with them. On the one hand, this is the one moment when ordinary Americans get exposed to some of the more esoteric films and cinematic elements, the ones that we really love and care about. On the other hand, it's a popular art -- things like star power and box office really matter in the sense that they distort the landscape and determine what gets made and what gets seen.

I confess that the award shows have come to mean more to me over the years. I enjoy seeing old and new faces in the inimitable stage, mic, and statuette context. As shallow as it might seem, the fashion is more interesting to me than it was decades ago. It's always fun to root for your favorites and moan over the poor taste of the various voting academies and the public.

And most importantly, these events capture a moment in a particular populist perspective. These arts are about instants frozen in time -- what we care about now, what we want, what we fear, what we think is funny. No matter how tarnished the tinsel surrounding these problematic honors, their relevance for dedicated students of popular culture can't be easily dismissed.


Mark said...

I think the awards serve a purpose in letting a wider audience know about (potentially) smaller and quirkier films. As a burgeoning film buff, the Oscars were one way for me to find out about movies that weren't playing at the mall.

Sure, some of the awards bait is self-important and not that good, but these films can open up viewing options for those who don't pay as close attention as we do.

Anonymous said...

I watched the last couple of hours of the Golden Globes, and I think one of the main reasons I watch things like that and the Academy Awards is to find out about the "great" movies I've never heard of before. For instance, I found "In Bruges" at Hasting's shortly after the Golden Globes, and never would have bought it before that. And, I really want to see "Slumdog Millionare" to see what all the fuss is about.

I have to admit...I like the fashion, too. =] Picking out the dress I "would have worn" is always fun.