Although there are members of the filmmaking community that like to make it known they couldn’t care less about awards season, statistics speak for themselves when proving that a big win can be a huge financial enhancement, as well as a considerable rise in recognition from the general public.
According to BusinessInsider.com (Source:IBISWorld), the best picture winners overs the past five years had an average production budget of $17 million and earned an average of $82.5 million at the box-office – generating a 485.6% margin. Winners earned…
- $35.2 million in box office revenue, or 42.8%, before being nominated;
- $29.4 million, or 35.6%, after they were nominated;
- $17.9 million, or 21.7% after winning the Oscar.
Talent agents have also claimed that winning in your respected category will earn you a minimum of 20% added to your wage on following projects. So, although people such as the masterful Joaquin Phoenix have no interest in the matter, to many in the film industry these statistics can secure you a lifelong career. Joaquin is certainly one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, who has been in pursuit of projects of great artistic worth in the last few years, but it is impossible to deny that awards season is a huge deal to the masses. These statistics don’t apply if you win an award at Sundance or even Cannes, but most people already know all of this. What is truly interesting about the rat race of awards season is the very real notion of ‘momentum’.
The basic structure of a reviewed competition suggests that the winners will win ‘best so-and-so’ for being the best, so how can this realistically exist? Sometimes it is easy (and delightful) to forget that the Academy once awarded Driving Miss.Daisy for Best Picture. Instead of the obvious process of positive reinforcement, there is always talk of momentum. A contemporary example of this is 12 Years a Slave, which has supposedly lost momentum over the past few weeks, failing to claim many of the awards that it rightfully had one hand on since the film’s release. Most notably, BAFTA failed to award Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress and bizarrely gave Philomena Best Adapted Screenplay. This is even more surprising than, say, if 12 years fails to claim awards at the Academy Awards, because BAFTA have a healthy bias towards films that have British involvement.
Does ‘momentum’ imply that award voters simply follow the trends of their fellow voters? Regardless of debate about whether Gravity really is a British film, and whether 12 Years is an American film, the fact that Lupita walked away from the BAFTAs without an awards suggests that momentum far more important than anybody would like to believe. Jennifer Lawrence, who triumphed over Nyong’o to win the award for her performance in American Hustle, is a constant talking point in todays press. This means that her chances of losing the limelight and, therefore, losing momentum is next to none. Would it be unfairly cynical to suggest that perhaps BAFTA awarded Lawrence in order to be mentioned by press every time Lawrence is mentioned for the next few weeks, boosting their own prestige along with Lawrence’s natural talents and charm? ‘BAFTA Award Winning actress Jennifer Lawrence said…’ sounds pretty good in print, doesn’t it? This doesn’t just occur for the short while that people remember the awards. Nowadays, articles are written about an actor’s previous wins and sites such as IMDB log them for all to see for the rest of time. I mentioned the concept of an ‘accumulative win’ in a previous article, where actors receive an award that is technically for one film, but is in actual fact for an accumulation of many good performances; This also applies to directors, such as Scorcese, and many other categories. This may also be something that sways the Academy towards awarding DiCaprio over McConaughey this year.
Personally, I choose to have a little more faith in BAFTA by believing that they chose Lawrence due to poor judgement rather than any reason more cynical (plus, it never hurts to speculate). However, It doesn’t change the absolute fact that momentum exists during awards season. In the past week, Lawrence hasn’t been mentioned any more than she usually is, whilst N’yongo seems to be on most major film and fashion press’ coverage. This leads me to believe that Lupita will get her just dessert. Let’s go all out and be truly cynical in a world where phone tapping and celebrity stalking is outrageously common, by suggesting that a select few in the press already know the winner. Regardless to this, for the general public momentum is a mysterious, unknown authority that only reveals itself to us on the night. For the cynical, it’s influence is second only to political agenda and, whether you care on not, is more influential than anybody would like to believe.