Hollywood Advertising, I Mean, Awards Season

Every year it seems to start earlier and earlier.  This year, Halloween was just a week ago and we are barely into November, but it’s already started.  I’ve started seeing the advertisements, commercials, and articles.  People are already talking about it.  It’s award season.

Award season is when there’s “limited” or “exclusive” engagements of movies playing in select movie theaters before they start playing on a streaming site or open in more movie theaters at the end of the year or the start of next year.  They’re required to do this because a movie must play in movies theaters for at least a week before the end of the year if they want to receive any awards.  

Award season is when you start seeing more and more magazine, newspaper, or television interviews with top stars like Cate Blanchett (promoting “Tár”), Christian Bale (promoting “Amsterdam” and “The Pale Blue Eye”), Jennifer Lawrence (promoting “Causeway”), Steven Spielberg (promoting “The Fabelmans”), and several others doing television or magazine interviews.

Award season is when they start having “industry screenings” for the people who are eligible to vote for the various awards like the WGA (Writers Guild), DGA (directors guild), SAG (screen actors guild), BAFTA (the British awards), and especially the biggest awards show – the Academy Awards.  Sometimes the screenings include a question and answer with the filmmakers or stars of the movie after the screening.

Although a few movies aren’t playing in movie theaters yet – there’s still 8 weeks until the end of the year – the competition is already heating up.  There are already predictions of who will be nominated.  Actor Eric Roberts recently said that Margot Robbie – who he stars with in “Babylon” – will WIN the best actress award.

I call it a “competition” because that’s what it is now.  Especially for the Academy Awards.  The best movie or the best actor/actress doesn’t necessarily win awards anymore.  It’s about promotion and advertising now.  If the best movie or best actor is in a small low budget movie, then some voters might not get a chance to see the movie.  Other times the promotion of a movie is so strong that the movie wins awards when it isn’t the best of the year.  

The first example people say when they talk about this is Marissa Tomei winning best supporting actress for “My Cousin Vinny” in 1993.  Almost no one thought she would win.  Some people thought that the person reading the winner – Jack Palance – said her name because it was the last name on the alphabetical list of women. 

There have also been other award winners that may not have been deserved.  Some also think Jack Palance won the best supporting actor in 1992 because Billy Crystal – who starred in “City Slickers” with him and also hosted the Academy Award show that year – promoted him a lot since he had the only nomination for the movie.  Some people say “Shakespeare in Love” shouldn’t have won best picture in 1998.  They say that it won because the head of Miramax at the time – Harvey Weinstein – aggressively promoted the movie.  Personally, I’ve always said that “Titanic” shouldn’t have won best picture in 1997.  “L.A. Confidential” was a much better movie in my opinion.

If you want more proof that award season is a competition you can look at the best actress and best supporting actress winners.  It seems to me like there’s someone that has a sure-fire system for getting actresses an Academy Award because almost every popular actress has won. 

Best actress or supporting actress winners include Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Judi Dench, Jessica Chastain, Frances McDormand, Emma Thompson, Laura Dern, Susan Sarandon, Hallie Berry, Jodie Foster, Rachel Weisz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Vikander, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Jennifer Connelly.

I’m not saying those women didn’t deserve to win the award.  I’m just saying that it seems odd that almost all the popular actresses have won.  I said “almost” because there are a few that haven’t won yet like Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Anette Benning, Jennifer Lopez, and Margot Robbie (who is going to win this year according to Eric Roberts).

By comparison, the list of popular actors who haven’t won an Academy Award yet includes Samuel L. Jackson, Harrison Ford, Robert Downey Jr, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, Hugh Jackman, Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Liam Neeson, Idris Elba, Don Cheadle, Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Affleck, Tom Hiddleston, Leslie Odom Jr, and Mark Wahlberg.  Most of them have received nominations, but none of them have won yet (Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck have won an Academy Award but not for acting).

However, it looks like popular actors are now starting to win an Academy Award too.  In the last few years, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith won for best actor and Brad Pitt won for best supporting actor.

It’s too soon for me to say who will be nominated or win the awards this year – although Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are both excellent in their recent movies – but I can say when this award season will be over: March 12, 2023.  The day of the Academy Awards show.  So, we have over 4 long months to go.