I’m one of those people who watches awards shows, of late anyway, to bitch about them later. There’s something so superficially satisfying about disagreeing with a disembodied body like the Academy or the Hollywood Foreign Press or whatever, and also about forming your own opinions on a topic you really think you know a lot about. It’s usually a race to the February finish to fit in all the movies before the Oscars, and bonus points to those of us who finish them in time for the Golden Globes. I’m going to take a moment to pat myself on the back now, because I think I saw most of them in time for Tina and Amy’s Sunday show.
Awards shows are inherently bullshit — why are we comparing all of these different pieces of art that are so fundamentally different, when really it shouldn’t be a competition and (as my dad alluded to when I tried to explain my complex feelings about awards shows to him) all of the pieces should be displayed and viewed in a big theater museum, kind of like how art is. Yet it feels so good to see your favorite artists get recognition, and most actors are inherently attention-seekers, so awards shows become this sort of fun pomp and circumstance, where we all get to see if they’re really like how we’ve imagined them, if they’re anything like the characters we’ve grown to love, if they’re as heroic as we’ve made them in the past year. It’s bullshit. It’s hypocritical. It’s gross and it’s fun.
I can say, with some sense of pride and probably a lot more irony, that this is the first awards show I’ve watched and not treated like a hostile sporting event. Sure, I yelled a lot, but they were yells of joy! I found myself fully on board with the decisions that the HFP made, and as a result of that, I fully enjoyed the ceremony. It helped, naturally, that Tina and Amy were at the helm of the whole thing, keeping it at just the right level of drunken shitshow. But what I really, truly loved about this year’s ceremony is that, Breaking Bad not withstanding, the juggernauts finally got de-throned. The Big Bang Theory didn’t win anything. Whatever Hobbit movie came out this year didn’t win anything. Modern Family didn’t win anything. It was a year for the little man, yes. It was also a year for spreading the wealth very evenly, and in the right nooks and crannies.
Here’s what I mean. Dallas Buyers Club wasn’t the best movie of the year, but it did contain two of the best performances of the year in Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey. And both of those guys won! And there was still room for Leonardo DiCaprio to win, because his movie was considered a comedy. Dividing the field into two parts is slightly better than not dividing it at all. And Blue Jasmine wasn’t the best movie either, but it did contain the best dramatic performance, as far as I’m concerned, by Cate Blanchett, and she won too! And Gravity was Alfonso Cuaron’s visually stunning baby, more than anything else, and he won Best Director! Her was Spike Jonze’s literarily stunning baby, and he won for best screenplay! And Amy Poehler, long overshadowed by Edie Falco and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, finally got her statue. And a new comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, got recognized for being different and unique and fresh, and another SNL alum (Andy Samberg) got to take home his own statue, too. And Robin Wright! She makes me understand what “yin and yang” mean. And 12 Years a Slave! Hard to argue with that being the best dramatic film of the year. And the composer for All is Lost! That movie was mostly not talking, so he had to work especially hard to make the score grab the audience. (That sounds fake, but it’s only because I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m still glad he won.) And Elisabeth Moss! She got a Peggy consolation prize. Works for me.
See what I mean? American Hustle cleaned up a little, sure, but it didn’t dominate or anything. The accolades got spread around in such a lovely, democratic way that it almost makes me not want to watch the Oscars. To leave this good, happy feeling in my mind, that somewhere out there exists a real group of people who reward films based on true merit. It bodes well for Hollywood… outside of Hollywood, anyway.