Awards Season Special: The struggle for Momentum


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 (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.


7 thoughts on “Awards Season Special: The struggle for Momentum

  1. I truly hope there wasn’t a hidden agenda behind Baftas award giving. I was truly horrified that Lupita lost out not just on supporting actress, but on young actor/actress of the year. I do very much believe in momentum and also think this years oscars are fairly easy to predict despite the amazing competition this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I plan to write a predictions list but a part of me thinks there is little point because most of it seems easy to predict this year! That’s such a good point about the young actor/actress award, now I’m even more frustrated! PS. Thanks for reading and your comments!


  2. Momentum is a lot. I even believe that because of that DiCaprio will triumph ove McConaughey and Ejiofor in Best Actor. Though I’m not sure of Lawrence and N’yongo. Plus I haven’t seen American Hustle yet, so until Thursday, I don’t want to have opinion.

    “bizarrely gave Philomena Best Adapted Screenplay” Have you seen Philomena? I think it deserved that more than 12 Years a Slave would have, that script is great! Much better than in the latter.


    1. Hi! There’s definitely a good chance DiCaprio will take it, and I too believe that if he does, it will be through accumulation!
      On retrospect the word ‘bizarrely’ may have been a bit strong. Certainly, it earned it’s place amongst the nominees, but the contrast of the two central characters was far too cliched and, at times, patronisingly over the top. Maybe it was Dench’s faux-irish delivery that also led me to believe that the script wilts during the first act; Not due to plot, but to character building and the exploration of character through dialogue. Of course, there is a handicap when writing about real events, as if the contrast between these two character really was that extreme, they should of course represent that.
      However, 12 Years a Slave provides a masterful script in the way that it showed the extremities of the real life story, whilst also showing relative characteristics between everyone in the film. The film’s discussion of appeasement and the strength and importance of unity, whist also presenting the destructive nature that comes through a lack of those traits, is done with prowess. I personally found these themes, and the way they were tackled, in a separate league to any other adapted screenplay in contention this year.

      Thanks for your comment and views! I’d be really interested in know what you thought of American Hustle! I passionately disliked the script, finding that the director and editors obviously found the characters and their improvisations more interesting than the ‘hustle’ itself, which was unintelligent, dull and anticlimactic. Let me know what you thought!


      1. I’m now a bit afraid to tell you my views of American Hustle because I will probably like it. I’m a fan of David O. Russell and can’t see that how that film would be nay kind of bad considering it includes my favourite actress (Adams), one of my favourite actors (Bale), my future husband (Renner) and a girl I loved to be best friends (Lawrence), so… 😀

        I do think that 12 Years is a deserving winner but my main problem with the script is timeline, it is quite hard to understand in the end that Solomon has suffered that long. And to me Philomena had this rare thing of making you laugh and cry at the same time. Life is like that and I always admire writers who are able to bring that up. Alexander Payne being a master in that and obviously Steve Coogan too. But again, it’s fine by me if 12 Years wins (and I’m predicting it will).


      2. Oh dear haha! I really do hope you enjoy it though! There is a lot of fun to have with American Hustle, the performances he gets out of his actors are brilliant, but they can only sugarcoat an otherwise weak storyline. I even think the dialogue is well done, it’s purely the plot itself.

        Interesting that you bring up the issue of the timeline. When I spoke to a friend about it, he simply said ‘If the title hadn’t have been “12 Years a Slave’, I’d have thought he was there 2 years tops!”. For me, this is also a problem with the film, but I also think there is an argument that the title IS called 12 Years a Slave, so it’s borderline forgivable. Also, it mostly comes down to the director’s decisions to show you (or not show you) passages of time and ageing characters, rather than the script itself. I think hardcore McQueen fans would argue that he deliberately uses no time indicators to create a vacuous, seemingly endless life as a slave, only to see the time that was stolen from him through the face of his grown up child.

        Finally, I’d like to congratulate you on your future engagement, Mrs. Renner!


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