People who complain about too many awards shows are correct in one regard, but wrong in another. While there is obviously far too much glorification -- the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Emmys, People's Choice, SAG, Hollywood Film Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, AFI, MTV Movie Awards, etc. (and there are a couple dozen more we didn't include) -- there is far too little creativity.
By the time the Academy Awards (the granddaddy of them all) roll around, don't we already have a pretty good idea who's going to win? As deserving as J.K. Simmons was (in Whiplash), everybody and his brother already knew he was going to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. After all, he'd won every other Supporting Actor award on Planet Earth. Indeed, had Simmons not won the Oscar, it would have made headlines.
The problem with the plethora of awards shows isn't their ubiquity. It's their redundancy. The problem is that they all give the SAME awards: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Movie, Best Screenplay, Best Director, etc. What we need are award shows that recognize different criteria.
Here are three suggestions for innovative awards shows.
BEST MOVIES SEEN ON A CELL PHONE. There are literally millions of Americans who never go to the movies. Never, ever. They only way they get to see movies is by renting or streaming them. We need a show that basically adopts the format of the People's Choice Awards, where you let the audience decide, but you only allow non-theater goers to vote.
No one is going to vote for Interstellar or Lord of the Rings as Best Picture if they had to watch them on their cell phone. But arguably, they could enjoy Nebraska or St. Vincent on their cell or on their squeak-box at home. Present the full slate of awards, but limit it to rentals: Best Actress in a Cell Phone Movie, Best Supporting Actor in a Cell Phone Movie, etc. Granted, J.K. Simmons would probably still win, but at least it would be a contest.
BEST ENDINGS. Have an awards show devoted exclusively to extraordinary codas. Best Actor in a Movie With the Best Ending. Best Screenplay With the Best Ending. Best Supporting Actress in a Movie With the Best Ending. Any writer will tell you that endings are hideous things to pull off. An audience will pretty much follow you anywhere, but sooner or later you have to wrap it up, and that's where things get tricky.
Endings risk being too predictable, too formulaic, too stupid to be believed, too mawkish, too confusing, or too emotionally unsatisfying. Because great endings are so rare, the actors, directors and screenwriters who make them work deserve recognition. Indeed, these awards should be called "Woodies," in tribute to Woody Allen, whose movies have the best endings (Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, et al).
BEST RIP-OFFS. We're not referring to sequels or prequels, and we don't use the term "rip-off" as a pejorative. It's not plagiarism, it's not theft, it's not naked copying. We're speaking here of derivatives... and Hollywood is nothing if not a monument to derivatives. These awards could be called "Rippies."
Best Actor in a Rip-Off Comedy. Best Actress in a Rip-Off Drama. Best Ripped-Off Screenplay. Etc. Movies like Prometheus (a rip-off of Alien) could be nominated, as could Big (a rip-off of Freaky Friday). Both were excellent movies, but both were derivatives. Again, we're not being critical. What was last truly "original" cop movie you saw?
David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book (Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories) will be published in June.
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