Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hollywood Film Awards launched the awards race for the muggles – that is, it seems like it might be the beginning of awards season. But really, it was the last gasp of festival season.  Award season starts officially in roughly two weeks. It is impossible to really know where the films are lining up. As Mark Harris reminds us, what is mostly going on right now is a conversation between a bunch of people who don’t vote on awards trying to predict how people who do vote on awards will vote.  Or, as Kris Tapley said more succinctly, it’s like farting in a room and then talking about what it smells like.  That’s the thing – we all have our rankings and our own narratives of how the race might go but in truth, nothing really happens until the major awards begin to announce.

The first out of the gate is the New York Film Critics Circle Awards (December 1), made recently famous by their decision to push their awards to be earlier than the National Board of Review, the group that traditionally announced first. Since the NYFCC did that, they’ve picked winners that hadn’t been widely seen yet, even though they were being predicted by pundits based on the usual things: pedigree, subject matter, etc. Zero Dark Thirty in 2012 and American Hustle last year were their two big late entry surprise picks. The only film left to be seen right now are Unbroken and Into the Woods. The NYFCC hat trick would then have to be one of those films and if either one wins it will be huge.

A day later, the National Board of Review announces (December 2). They list a Best Picture and then a top ten, plus acting categories. Both the National Board of Review and the NYFCC have a great track record for launching a film into the Best Picture race. It lends prestige to have that little award on your movie ad. No one really knows the difference, nor cares, whether the critics who vote are “legit” or not. The NBR has been picking respectable titles for years alongside the NYFCC.

The National Board of Review started, believe it or not, in 1927, presumably to help influence the newly formed Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences awards. But it wasn’t until 1932 that they started giving out a winner.

A quick chart:

Critics wins vs. Academy wins & nominations
source: Marshall's Statsgasm
NYFCC since 1935LAFCA since 1975NBR since 193280706050403020100WinnersthatbecameAANomineesWinnersthatbecameAAwinners

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