When we look back at the year of film that was 2013, we’ll realize that the year’s best movies (or most celebrated anyway) had a preternatural obsession with capitalism gone wild and the evils it creates. If we take a moment to stop having sex on top of our piles of money, we’ll recognize that the majority of Golden Globe-nominated movies and Oscar-hopefuls were pointed attacks on our beloved dollars and all the silly things we do to get more of them. Focusing on the Globes for a moment, as Oscar nominations haven’t been announced yet (that happens on January 16 [voting ends today, January 8, which is, by the way, before most Americans will have the chance to see August: Osage County, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Her, all of which are Oscar hopefuls]), the idea of capitalism run amuck has been covered from every conceivable angle; from the entertaining thrills (American Hustle), to the disgusting allure of unimaginable excess (The Wolf of Wall Street), the bitter aftermath of greed (Blue Jasmine), the desperate fight in the face of greed (Dallas Buyers Club), the benefits of being a company man (Captain Philips and, to a lesser degree, Gravity) and a straightforward look at capitalism’s greatest sin (12 Years a Slave). And that was just among the nominees. Movies like Upstream Color, The Counselor, and many others, even bad movies (like Pain and Gain) all had, as their subjects, the dumb things we do to each other for a buck.
What does it all mean? First and foremost, I’d say, it means that our film artists are pissed off that it is so easy for crooks to make ridiculous sums of money while it is so difficult for honest people to make just enough. Whether or not that will change anything is a different discussion. Movies, like any art, have a limited capacity for change (and I hate to say it, moviemakers, but Hollywood may be the epitome of capitalism run amuck) but if these types of movies can have enough influence on enough people change can be demanded. I’m not even sure that’s what the movies are after, however, and I think more than anything, they reflect a feeling in the culture now that a divide is growing between the haves and have nots, a feeling that has existed for a while now but its only this year that the movies are commenting on it, en masse.
Of course, it’s no secret that Americans are in love with money, just as its no secret that Hollywood is in love with itself. That’s what this time of the year is for; award season. As much of a snark and a cynic as I carefully curate my online persona to be, part of me (a large part) loves award season because, like Hollywood, I am in love with Hollywood (even though, honestly, its an abusive relationship). Are these types of awards absolutely meaningless pats on the back and self-serving money makers for an industry that already comprises of 4% of the GDP? Yes, very much so. But they’re fun and they get people talking about movies, typically good movies, and they inspire debate, which makes them worthwhile in my book. The two biggest awards shows of the year are the Golden Globes and the Oscars and, contrary to popular belief, they have very little to do with each other.
First, let’s understand what we mean when we say “Oscar Buzz.” Let me quote Matthew McConaughey in Wolf of Wall Street for a moment: “Fugazi, Fugahzi, its a wawzi, its a woozi, it’s fairy dust.” That’s what Oscar Buzz is. Don’t let anybody sell you on a movie because it has Oscar Buzz. Oscar Buzz doesn’t exist, it’s something people say to help their argument. “A lot of people talking about this movie?” What people, who are these people? “Lots of Oscar Buzz for this one.” What does that mean? People also confuse the idea of constancy with momentum. Just because you hear about a certain movie, or you read about a certain movie winning other awards, doesn’t mean that it’s going to get an Oscar nomination (doesn’t mean it wont, either). There are a lot of critics groups that release their own awards. Just about ever metropolitan area has a critics group that at least names a best picture of the year. One single movie could win every last one of these critics awards and have no more “Oscar Buzz” than a cell phone video I made of my cat puking. Why’s that? Because critics don’t vote for the Oscars. They aren’t members of the Academy. It’s as if, every country in the world announced who they would choose to be America’s next president. That’s great, but they don’t have a vote.
And neither does the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the body that puts on the Golden Globes. So if you are wondering “Where’s The Butler?” or “Is Rush a legitimate contender now?” because they were either snubbed or honored by the Golden Globes know when predicting the Academy Awards that Globes are decided by people who don’t decide the Oscars. Paraphrasing McConaughey again; just like the stock market, nobody knows what the Oscars are going to do. They are voted on by some 6,000 people of all ages and locations, their only commonality is that they work or have worked in the film industry. An Academy member could be your neighbor. An Academy member could be an accountant for a studio who doesn’t particularly care about movies. An Academy member could only have seen a handful of movies all year. So why do so many people (myself included) try to predict they’ll think when its impossible? That’s a good question and trying to answer it for myself might make me sad so I’m going to avoid it and just tell you that anybody who claims to have the inside scoop is full of it and is guessing like everybody else.
There are ways to make more educated guesses (for the Oscars, look at the Producer’s Guild Awards, the SAG Awards and the Writers Guild Awards because these are awards in which their voting bodies might include some actual Oscar voters [based on those tea leaves, it appears that Inside Llewyn Davis and Rush are trending downward for a Best Picture Oscar nom and Saving Mr. Banks and Dallas Buyers Club is trending upward]) but the Golden Globes aren’t one of them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to watch and prognosticate about. That’s why I’m announcing the NickRenkoski.com Golden Globes Challenge to all my readers who enjoy fun and come to the internet for it.
Below is field of questions for each Golden Globe category, simply fill them out and compete against the readers of this site and other. I will participate in the challenge myself and expect to be roundly beaten, not only because we’ll all be guessing and therefore it will come down to luck but also because half of the categories are about television of which I’ll not have much in the way of educated guesses. I’ll even give away some of my predictions, mainly that I think it’s going to be a good night for American Hustle and that I like Gravity over 12 Years a Slave in the Best Picture, Drama category because the Hollywood Foreign Press usually skews towards bigger hits and towards more universal stories (read: stories that a non-American might be interested in), which 12 Years doesn’t really have going for it.
You have until this Sunday at noon to compete (the Globes ceremony is that night [January 12, 7:oopm CST]). Have fun guessing.