Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globes 2010

So I just finished watching the Golden Globes. It was the first time I've ever watched the entire show because, quite frankly, I don't care much about television and the Golden Globes always seemed to me to be the poor man's Oscars. They aren't as funny, as shamelessly glamours, and their comedy categories give a certain credibility to films that would otherwise be thrown on the scrap heap to be forgotten about as history moves on without them. I'm talking about stuff like The Proposal, It's Complicated, Sherlock Holmes, Julie and Julia, and Nine. I'm not going to talk about the winners and whether or not they were truly the best in their category (okay I'll do it once: 500 Days of Summer was clearly a better film than The Hangover, and really, Robert Downey Jr.?) because, unlike other years, I haven't seen all the nominees and therefore don't have the adequate information to pass informed judgements. What I want to do is make an observation. The other day I was reading Matt Singer's brief review of An Education over at Termite Art and he made the comment that TV is getting so good that it is beginning to overshadow the cinema. This comes as absolute horror to me as someone who has lived and breathed cinema and kept TV at even greater than an arms length away. But as I was watching the Golden Globes and seeing all the TV nominees for shows I've never seen like Big Love, Dexter, True Blood, Glee, and so on, I realized that Singer was maybe on to something, especially when compared to those above listed nominated films like Julie and Julia and It's Complicated.

Then I got to thinking back over what were the most popular films of 2009: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, New Moon, Night at the Museum 2, Terminator: Salvation, and the absolute stinkiest of them all, Transformers: Rise of the Fallen. It was a depressing realization: Hollywood really was in the crapper this year. It's 2009 and instead of producing our own contemporary classics the best we can do is honour a hack musical remake of one of Fellini's most invaluable masterpieces? Then Martin Scrosese took the stage to accept the Cecil B. Demille Award and things got worse for me. Sitting through a montage of one of America's most value directors' work, I was left thinking: There were more essential, classic, absolutely unforgettable moments in those few minutes of montage then there have been in all of 2009. I considered myself definitely depressed. And then, with the TV awards behind and the major awards just over the horizon, I was reminded that, even if 2009 looked and felt like a total wash, amid all the meaningless wreckage, were films made out of the very stuff that make us fall in love again and again with the cinema every day of our lives. Film's like Inglourious Basterds, 500 Days of Summer, Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker and Avatar. Then Jeff Bridges, one of America's true acting treasures, won best actor for Crazy Heart (a film I have yet to see) and was given a standing ovation. "Yes," I thought, "these moments are the reason why we film lovers stick it out even through the worst of years." It was a reminder of what is still, after over 100 years of history, the most unchanged fundamental necessities of film: good actors, playing strong characters, immersed in good stories. Then, as Avatar began winning all the big awards, I was indeed satisfied in my realization that the most popular film of the year was also the best. It wasn't the one about mutant super heroes, vampire lovers, living museum displays, intergalactic robots or any other such gimmick. It wasn't based on a theme part ride, a video game or a toy chain. It wasn't a sequel, a remake, a reboot, or any other such quick money making scheme. It was a bold, beautiful, original piece of art and a glorious entertainment to boot. And it is a film that I hope Hollywood has learned a valuable lesson from: that people essentially crave and are drawn to new concepts and new ideas that are presented in classical film conventions (stories told with pictures). In 20, 10, even 5 years Twilight and Transformers will simply be the bad aftertaste of an era in filmmaking in which big studios thought they could get away with phoning it in. So, in spite of everything, I must hold my head up high and look forward to tomorrow because, no matter how bleak it may look right now, as history has proven and as Brandon Lee so truthfully said in The Crow: "It can't rain all the time." A complete list of Golden Globe winners can be found here, and probably just about everywhere else too.

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