If I were still fifteen, I no doubt would be walking around with my head held high today. My two favorite movies would have walked off with Best Motion Picture Golden Globes last night. Not only would I proclaim the inevitably of Avatar’s snag of Best Motion Picture - Drama, but I would rejoice in the courage and forward-thinking of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) for recognizing the genius that is The Hangover, which won for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical.
But I’m not not fifteen anymore. Nor am I jaded, befuddled or disappointed. Snark and derision have no place here; let us appraise what these two big wins at the Golden Globes mean.
If you’ve been keeping up with the candler blog, you know Sunrise found Avatar a bit racist, but nonetheless revolutionary from a technological/technical standpoint. And if you’ve been reading us since the summer, you know that The Hangover was completely lost on me, which made me feel like a pariah in cinephilic circles. For my money, The Hurt Locker should have taken the Drama statue (and Kathryn Bigelow for director) while the Comedy award should have gone to Julie & Julia, which was one of the more intriguing films last year. So what happened?
The Golden Globes are doled out by members of the press, and Avatar and The Hangover provided some wonderful fodder for off-screen squawking this year. In other words, they were the bread and butter of journalists of all walks. Take Todd Phillips, for example. Legend has it he risked his career by not casting a single “name” in his film while assuming much of the financial burden as a producer of the film. Literally, if the film tanked, we wouldn’t see much of him in Hollywood for at least a decade. And then there’s James Cameron’s 3D epic, for which the director invented a camera that brought the film’s budget to half a billion dollars. If that weren’t enough, he promoted the opening of 3D equipped auditoriums across the nation, leading the next evolution of trickery that will get butts in seats at the cineplex. So yeah, both of these films have enduring offscreen narratives. But does that make them worthy of our accolades.
Sure it does! The real surprise here is The Hangover, which purposefully doesn’t have a respectable bone in its body. It is a gross-out buddy comedy that digs deep into the darkest corners of our collective psyche. I didn’t like it, but I can appreciate that the HFPA was so wowed by a comedy that they offer up its highest honor. Mr. Field has somehow reached the heights that Bobby and Peter Farrelly have only dreamed of: to be respected as a filmmaker first and a comedy filmmaker second. It’s going to be hard to follow up this film. After all, Mr. Field is probably going to make a lot more shlocky comedies that won’t gain the respect of anyone, but at least he has a Globe in his treasure chest to push him forward.
Avatar is the obvious favorite for every award under the sun, which is a bummer because it makes me wonder if the people voting on this actually watched the whole movie. It’s a fine film no doubt, but its greatest achievements have nothing to do what what actually happens between the film’s opening and closing credits. 3D is here to stay, again, and this time around it is all due to the hype behind Mr. Cameron’s film. The release had been pushed back so many times in an effort to equip more theaters with the technology, which in essence has helped the tech flourish. Also, he matured the motion capture aspect of the film so well that it isn’t even part of the discussion anymore as it is, say, when Robert Zemeckis goes out to make a film.
It is an unquestionable fact: there are movies before Avatar and there are movies after. Again, technologically, the film moves us forward. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t quite live up to the method by which it is conveyed. But isn’t it enough that we have been moved? Isn’t it enough that the tech is here because of this film. If you ask me: no. But I can fully respect the HFPA for honoring such an achievement.
So there you have it. The awards make sense, even when the films don’t. Now, onto the Oscars and all the trash-talk that comes with them.