It’s that fabled time of the year, when the entertainment industry gets itself into a tizzy about shiny objects handed out to people for their efforts over the past year. It’s an exciting period to be sure, and the rumour mill is rife with who will win what, and who got snubbed this time, etc. etc. For all the season’s entertainment value on its own though, I’m giving awards season a miss this year, and the reasons aren’t as straightforward as you might expect.
For the vast majority of the populace, awards season is merely a news story or a featured article in a magazine. It is of interest to them, sure, but it’s a sideshow compared to football season, work, the weather and so on and so forth. Unless of course, you work within the entertainment industry, or follow it as an interested observer. In that circumstance, you follow news and gossip just like any die hard sports fan follows the draft. It’s something to savour, an excuse to get excited about something, and a welcome distraction from the usual predictable goings on.
Awards season is nominally a time to reflect upon the releases of the previous year, and to rightfully recognise creative achievements that move the art forward, and performances that exemplify the best that talent has to offer. This may be the intent, which of course, provides ample reasoning for the industry to perpetuate their existence, the reality is rather different. It’s easy to argue that awards are merely popularity contests designed to mask much of the politicking between players, but that isn’t why I’ve decided to take a pass on the entire season this year.
No, the answer is more complicated than that, and it stems from a few factors. The first is that for all the great films we had last year, there is one 800 pound gorilla that can, and already has, seen to it that no other film gets even a potential chance. The second stems from a tiredness of retreading the same old things again. The last is a more nuanced reason, that will be explained below.
The Academy Award list of nominees looks really good though, doesn’t it? There are a surprising (and welcome) number of independent films on the list like Anomalisa, When Marnie Was There, and Boy and the World. In the past, such a list would have been hailed as being outstanding, even revolutionary. The fact that animated films can be as varied as the ones on this year’s list ought to be something that is celebrated and used as ammunition in the war of words regarding animation as an equal peer to live-action.
This year though, Pixar’s Inside Out has swept all before it as far as the industry and general public alike are concerned. It’s already won the Golden Globe, and looks set to dominate elsewhere too. It will win all the major awards, not necessarily because it’s the best, but because it has been the most noticeable, and in an industry where smaller films are outright ignored just because they don’t have the deep pockets to fund a marketing campaign, there are very few reasons to doubt that it won’t win. Chalk that reason up as being a decent one to skip things this year; you already now who’s taking home the award.
The second reason is retreading all the same gossip and debate from year prior. Although it can be fun to discuss how things will spell out, and the reasons why or why not a film deserves to win, the arguments do not change from year to year, and debating the merits of a Pixar movie versus any other becomes monotonous to say the least.
Things are not helped by a vapid media who are only too eager to suckle at any nominee’s teat in the hope of attracting those valuable eyeballs to their website. That isn’t a slight at any animation-specific website since they do, after all, cover the actual industry, but rather the mainstream press who know next to nothing about it, but are only too happy to crow about whichever film the public are most familiar with while rehashing the same points over and over again ad nauseum. When you read as many articles as I do, you eyes quickly begin to glaze over at the prospect of having to wade through thousands of articles (not a hyperbole) all nattering about the exact same trick that the filmmakers used in that one film. Even if it weren’t for the other reasons, this one is enough all by itself to stop reading the news.
Lastly, and this is perhaps more personal than the others, I’ve started on the long road to producing animation. It’s not necessarily related to the films that were produced last year, but it rather disheartening to look at the films being produced and knowing that you can do better. That’s not a boastful statement, but rather proof that my attitudes have changed since even this time last year. My focus is now on making my own animation rather than observing and commenting on what others have made.
The result is that I now find it incredibly difficult to suffer through the vast majority of animated films simply because very few are aligned with what I wish to produce, and so they fail to entertain me in any meaningful way. Consequently my interest in how such films perform on the awards circuit is, shall we say, rather diminished.
All told, I sincerely doubt that I’ll miss much by sitting this year’s awards out, and I feel confident enough that my time that would otherwise be spent intently following the latest news, or reading about the winners, is better spend elsewhere. If you disagree, by all means let me know.