Are film awards still relevant? When an increasing number of the films up for nomination aren’t in theatres yet and The Martian is able to classify itself as a comedy to vie for a greater honour at the Golden Globes, maybe it’s time to take a look at awards season.
When I was younger I used to look forward to the red carpet glamour of the Oscars and Golden Globes, eagerly anticipating the flock of Hollywood stars in their perfect designer gowns. The relationship between the fashion world and red carpet events is an interesting one. The costs of the event are shared by the actor and the design house because of the beneficial promo-tion both parties receive, thanks to all of the coverage and best-dressed lists. The average cost an actress pays for her red carpet look? $44,300, according to Harper’s Bazaar; while the dress and accessories are often on loan, the services associated with styling, co-ordinating – and paying for security for valuables like jewelry – the outfit and overall beauty look are paid by the actress or from her publicity budget.
It’s not just the red carpets that prove award shows are a publicity machine – according to an article published by Forbes after last year’s Oscars, advertising rates during the Oscars beat the Super Bowl with a 12 per cent premium for the Oscars over the Super Bowl. While the Super Bowl remained the most expensive for a 30-second commercial, Forbes explained that in terms of advertisers-per-advertising dollar, the Oscars were a steeper investment.
The designers get promotion and advertisers access a premium market but what is the real purpose of the awards these days? A few weeks ago, The Martian made headlines for its Golden Globe win. The category? Best Motion Pic-ture, Musical or Comedy. I’ll confess that I haven’t seen the film but everyone I’ve talked to confirms that what makes the film memorable isn’t side splitting laughs or perfectly harmonized musical numbers. But thanks to the Golden Globes’ two best motion picture categories, drama and musical or comedy, their organizers can acknowledge films that might not make it into the drama category when there are too many nominees. And just like that, a strong slate of films up for awards consideration allows a science fiction drama to become a comedy.
Finally, it’s not just Leo that gets the Oscar snub; year after year, nominee announcements are accompanied by dismay about their lack of diversity. Unfortunately, this is just as much a reflection of Hollywood’s casting and hiring as it is bias from the Academy. Does DiCaprio deserve an Oscar for some of his work? Yes, but until there is greater parity in casting and awards season, I won’t lose sleep if he, or The Revenant, come home empty handed when awards season is done.
The spirit of awards season and film festivals is a great one – celebrating the best of the film industry’s talent – but increasingly, as the various awards become more driven by advertising revenue and marketing strategy, the value of those shiny statues isn’t quite what it used to be in my books.
Danielle S. Fuechtmann, Editor-in-Chief