Award Season is Upon Us
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(December 31, 2018 – Toronto, ON) When the new year arrives at midnight, the unofficial Awards Season begins as the work of the past twelve months gets a serious review by experts of all kinds in various organizations spread all over the world that have set themselves up as arbiters of what the public should like. This is serious business. An award can produce an uptick in interest and everyone hopes that produces a bit more box office revenue or a higher price when it comes time to license a film for broadcast.
Although the focus for the next few weeks is on award shows, this is not to say that film festivals should be ignored. Two of the biggies in the US are the Sundance and Slamdance festivals later this month in Park City, Utah. Sundance (January 24-February 3) has evolved over the years to one of the more important festivals while Slamdance (January 25-31) has become what Sundance started out to be and describes itself as “a showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking that lives and bleeds by its mantra: By Filmmakers For Filmmakers.”
The Awards Calendar year kicks off in just a few days with the 76th annual Golden Globes, co-hosted this year by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg. The show airs on January 6th and there are some Canadians to watch for this year. Although he is not nominated in this film, Stephan James costars with Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. The film has been nominated for Best Motion Picture-Drama, Regina King is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and writer-director Barry Jenkins is nominated for Best Screenplay. Stephan James has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Drama for his work opposite Julia Roberts in Homecoming, with the series itself and Roberts both being nominated as well. Sticking with TV series for a moment, Sandra Oh is up against Julia Roberts in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series-Drama category. Oh’s nomination is for the quirky mini-series, Killing Eve. Other nominees in the Best Actress category include Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Keri Russell (The Americans).
The shift in TV viewing away from the big networks can be clearly seen in the category Best Television Series-Musical or Comedy. Only one major network, NBC is in the running for A Good Place. The competition? Barry (HBO), Kidding (Showtime), The Kominsky Method (Netflix) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon). Jim Carrey has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Musical or Comedy for his work in Kidding.
This trend away from the major networks can be seen again in the category Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. The nominees include The Alienist (TNT), The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX), Escape at Dannemora (Showtime), Sharp Objects (HBO) and A Very English Scandal (Amazon). We’re rooting for Sharp Objects because all 8 episodes of the mini-series were directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. He won an Emmy for his earlier HBO series Big Little Lies. Vallée is not nominated for a Golden Globe.
The very next day, January 7th, the Vancouver Film Critics Circle will announce the winners of the Canadian awards. Katherine Jerkovic’s Roads in February leads all films in the Canadian section with six nominations, including Best Picture. It is a Canada/Uruguay co-production that was shot in Uruguay and is in Spanish with English subtitles. Fausto is Andrea Bussmann’s loose adaptation of Goethe’s version of the Faust legend, and Edge of the Knife, co-directors Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s 19th century epic, scripted entirely in two endangered Haida dialects (of which there are only 20-odd fluent speakers remaining). Jerkovic, Bussmann and Edenshaw and Haig-Brown are all nominated for Best Director as is Philippe Lesage for Genesis.
When the Storm Fades, a narrative-documentary hybrid about the devastating effects of climate change on families in the Philippines, received nominations for Aaron Reed in Best Supporting Actor, Male and for Kayla Lorette in Best Supporting Actor, Female. Reed is nominated alongside William Russ for Edge of the Knife and Pierre-Luc Brillant for The Fireflies are Gone, while Lorette shares her category with Gabrielle Rose (Kingsway) and Gloria Demassi (Roads in February)
Keith Behrman, who hasn’t made a feature film since 2002’s Flower and Garnet, is nominated for Best Screenplay for Giant Little Ones. He is joined by Zebulon Zang for N.O.N. and Katherine Jerkovic for Roads in February.
The Best Canadian Documentary nominees are ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch, The Museum of Forgotten Triumphs, and What Is Democracy?
The VFCC announced their International winners on December 17.
The Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA) announced their international film awards on December 10 and will hold their 22nd awards gala in Toronto on January 8. Contenders for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, which carries a record-setting $100,000 cash prize for the winning film include ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch, Ava and Maison du bonheur. The runners-up will each receive $5,000.
The 72nd British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) will announce their 2019 nominations on Wednesday, January 9th. The awards ceremony itself will take place in London on Sunday, February 10.
The 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards will be held on Saturday, January 19 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
Nominations for this year’s Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 22 and the 91st edition of the biggest night in film will be held on February 24, 2019 and broadcast by ABC and simulcast in Canada by CTV.
The big day in the Canadian film calendar is February 7th. That’s the day the Canadian Screen Awards will announce their nominees. Canadian Screen Week kicks off on March 25 and celebrates excellence in media through a multi-platform, national program of events and celebrations culminating in the Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast Gala carried live on CBC, Sunday March 31st.
The 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will once again be broadcast on TNT and TBS on January 27. Multiple SAG Award and Emmy® winner Megan Mullally (Will & Grace, Why Him?) will host the broadcast ceremony.
The 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards which will take place in Santa Monica, California and will be broadcast live on IFC at 5PM Eastern on February 23. The nominations were announced on November 16, 2018 by Molly Shannon and Gemma Chan.
There’s one award show that falls outside this period we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it. It’s the Gala Québec Cinéma which recognizes talent and achievement in the provinces feature film and hands out the Prix Iris. This year’s gala is set for Sunday June 2.
Finally, if you’re wondering about the Emmy Awards, they’re not part of this early 2019 “season” either. Mark September 22nd on your calendars if you’re an Emmy fan.
Are award shows still popular? It’s hard to tell. In April of 2018 the Hollywood Reporter began a story with the paragraph: “During the first months of 2018, TV’s three biggest awards shows — the Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes — lost 14 million viewers between them, a stunning 18 percent decline from their collective haul the previous year.” Other than popularity, perhaps the question that needs to be asked is are award shows even relevant? In an era where everyone is online, everyone is a critic and everyone can rate the movies and let their followers know which films they think are best and which ones to avoid, who needs award shows to validate their personal choices?
However, if you are one those who still love or like awards shows with their glitz, glamour and air-headed speeches, then this posting is just for you. Stock up on popcorn buy a bottle of cheap bubbly and get ready to celebrate. But don’t forget to update your calendars now that you know what’s coming when.
Ralph Lucas is the Founder and Publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.