I hope I’m not breaking an unwritten taboo by commenting on something that supposed to speak for itself. If so, consider me duly censured.
A couple of things struck me about the film portion of last night’s awards, and I’d like to make a few comments.
- I was surprised that Babel only won one award. Granted, it was a key award, but still. I believe it had seven or so nominations. I would have expected the HFPA to love a movie so international in scope.
- I read a quote somewhere to the effect of “You might as well give the Oscars to Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker.” Last night certainly didn’t disprove that.
- “Dreamgirls” seems to be picking up steam. I haven’t seen it; I’m not even sure whether it’s playing in my area. I wonder how many people go into it expecting another “Chicago” ? Or maybe just curious to see a movie featuring a former “American Idol” contestant? And, yes, the phrase “Golden Globe winner and former American Idol contestant” has now entered the American lexicon. Deal with it.
And finally (”At last, she wraps it up,” I hear you say), Meryl Streep made an interesting point in her acceptance speech. She urged people who don’t have access to some of the smaller, “artier” films to go to their theatre managers and demand these movies get played. My question is, how exactly DOES that kind of thing gets decided? Who determines what films are played at my local cineplex?
Heather: No unwritten taboo here. The thread was opened to prod discussion. Great post.
Babel’s win was probably the most surprising of the awards; strange, that it would lose everything else, but take home the big one. Babel has been surging in awards buzz lately, and if I thought the Globes impacted the Oscars at all, I’d be wondering if it could pull off a surprise win. It might. This is an unusually competitive year. But I don’t think we’ll really know anything until the nominations are in.
I’m happy for Jennifer Hudson. I just think it’s such an interesting and wonderful and random story, that this person who made the Top 7 on American Idol but missed the Top 6, all of a sudden wins an audition over that year’s winner and becomes the favorite in every awards show. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but she’s a fantastic singer. American Idol is commonly scoffed at, but I dunno. Some amazing talents come out of that.
I don’t know that the Oscar is secure for her, though: some unpredictable things happen in that category sometimes.
What gets played at your local cineplex depends on what your local cineplex is. Most are parts of theater chains, and which chain it is will probably impact how much control of the programming is up to corporate, and how much is retained by the theater manager. I don’t know a lot about it, though.
Unfortunately, I suspect you’re not likely to have much luck. There is too much money at stake for most theater chains to care about the individual movies. They just want to pack the houses. Hunt around for an art house theater. They’re scarce outside cities, but they do exist.
“There is too much money at stake for most theater chains to care about the individual movies.”
What a sad and true statement. The movies have become such a business these days, haven’t they? And while I’m all for forumlaic popcorn movies (2007 has been proclaimed “Year of the Threequel” and I plan to see all of them), I wonder how many deserving films don’t get their due because a focus group doesn’t “get” them.
Haven’t the movies always been “such a business?” There wouldn’t be a film industry in the world if there wasn’t a demand for it and money to be made from it. I realize that there are filmmakers out there who have higher goals than that, but how many more of them would go unheard and unseen if there wasn’t this big Hollywood machine to market “the movies” to the world?
If the industry didn’t exist as it does, would there be so many film buffs out there, spreading the news about the smaller, art-house film “gems” that they’ve discovered? It may be sad that many deserving films don’t get their due and exist in this fringe industry, but without the big business, would the “fringe” even exist at all?
They’ve always been a business, but the gap between what kinds of films sustain the business and what kinds of films are artistic and insightful has never been wider.
It used to be that great writing, great directing was what sold tickets. Cheap thrill rides did exist, as B movies, but now B movies are the ones getting A movie budgets, and actual A movies fight to get made at all.
I think I do see your point, although I’m not the student of film history that you two are. Do you think that this widening gap is something that’s been gradually foisted upon the viewing public by the big budget studios, or is it that the demands of moviegoers have changed over time?
My guess would be that it’s a combination of the two, with both groups acting upon and affecting the preferences of the other. But that’s all it is; a guess.