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Spring Movies – Hollywood’s Unfortunate Off-Season

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SPRINGWEB (4)Joseph Han | The Observer

Every year without fail, the Golden Globes are doled out in early January, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are issued in late January, the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) are distributed in mid February and the Oscars are allotted in late February. Arguably the four most popularized film award shows all take place within two months of each other.

It makes sense. By setting up individual awards shows in such a way, the academies, the guilds and the associations that select the awards collectively create something greater. They create an “awards show season,” where the nominations build off each other, the predictions build off of each other and excitement among viewers builds off of each consecutive award show. They create Sunday night rituals for nearly two months where televisions are focused on the big screen instead of the small screen.

Kudos to them. In doing so, they take their livelihood and make it into a subject of argument, deep thought, ritual, and at times, even gambling. The industry makes sure that their awards aren’t certificates delivered in the mail in manila envelopes for a reason. Instead, there’s a red carpet, a golden statue, a television slot, and most importantly, there’s controversy. Industry heads want their award shows to have as much drama as the films they’re honoring. Doing so brings the awards show season into being.

From a director’s, screenwriter’s, actor’s or actresses’ point of view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with an “award show season.” It’s a time to celebrate their work, a time for the whole country to talk about films beyond the scope of a car ride home after a movie. From the other side of the screen, however, the season isn’t as flawless. The “award show season” in itself may not be bad; however, constricting the major award shows to a two-month period directly affects the products viewers receive.

As a result of the timing of the awards shows, film production and distribution companies make sure their films with the best screenplays, the best directing, and the best acting come out in anticipation of the red carpet.

Out of the 17 films nominated for “Best Picture” at the 2016 and 2017 Oscars, 15 of them have been released in October or later. This makes the colder months exceptional for the all the self-proclaimed film critics out. Each weekend is packed with multiple film releases and multiple studios hoping to take home a golden statue in February.

The opposite happens in the summer and spring months. If award show movies are for the brain and the heart, then spring and summer movies are for the senses. They don’t have the unique screenplays, they don’t get the artistic directors and they don’t get the scary-good actors. They get the explosions, the cartoons, the overdone shoot-out scenes, the blood-curdling screams, the zombies and the superheroes. These attributes don’t necessarily imply that they’re worse productions. Movies aren’t created simply to face objective judgment, but in the eyes of the Academy, the guild and the association they are.

All three “Iron Man” movies have been released before June. All eight of the “Fast and Furious” movies have been released between the beginning of April and the end of June. Four out of the five top grossing cartoon movies of all time have been released in the summer or spring (Frozen wasn’t, but its setting demands a winter release). They all have garnered exponentially more at the Box Office than those films recently nominated for “Best Picture” at any of the major award shows but none of them have ever been nominated for the category. They’re good films for the viewer’s eyes and for the production companies’ wallets, but apparently not for the eyes of a film critic.

Regardless of the seeming “law of award shows,” film doesn’t have to be like this. We can get ear-ringing explosions in October and brilliantly written screenplays in June, it’s just up to the producers of the films to make sure that happens.

Right now there is a sort of prisoner’s dilemma going on in Hollywood. There is fear from one production-company that if they don’t release their Oscar contender in the fall, someone other studio will and use momentum to edge out the win. This fear needs to make its way out of Hollywood if we want to see change. Actors, companies and directors in Hollywood need to start trusting each other and themselves again. They need to remember that a film’s directorial brilliance isn’t altered by the weather, that the flow of a genius screenplay won’t be jumbled simply due to a summer release date and that emotion-provoking cinematography has no less effect on the eyes because of how sunny it is outside.

“The Godfather” was released in March, “Chinatown” was released in June and “2001: A Space Odyssey” was released in April. Greatness isn’t defined by a release date. Hopefully, Hollywood will soon remember that.

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