Awards season used to kick off with the start of the fall film festival season but things have changed to where it feels fifteen months long.
Every now and then, a film will breakout at Sundance, get acquired, and then held for the fall festival season. I have no problem with this. What I have a problem with is the non-stop discussion that starts during Sundance and then plays all the way through Oscar Sunday. Most of the time, the general moviegoing public will not even have the opportunity to see these films until the fall. It’s not even that. Outside of Film Twitter, does the average movie goer even know about these smaller films? It all depends on who they read. The way I see it, awards season is starting earlier and earlier each year. It’s longer than Xmas at this point and stores are putting merchandise up for sale before July.
As for the current season, Oscar nominations voting started on Thursday and will conclude on February 1. We’ll know who has an Oscar nomination come February 8. After that, Oscar Sunday itself will be March 27 live from the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood. But after Oscar Sunday, I really don’t want to think about the following Oscars until September at the earliest. Please!
When I go into covering the Sundance Film Festival, it’s usually for my own site. Sometimes, I’m able to pitch interviews to other outlets. Occasionally, I might even be asked to write reviews for other outlets. But aside from these occurrences, my Sundance coverage is usually for my own site. Usually, I go into this thinking about just wanting to watch a good movie. I should not go into films thinking about the award potential. Let the filmmakers, talent, and crew have their day in the sun, sure. But to immediately dissect a film and debate the award chances in January? I don’t want any part of this. My immediate thought is on: do people care what I have to say? Will this review get any clicks if I run it right now? Should I hold a review for its theatrical or streaming release? You get the idea.
Last Sundance, I loved CODA and Summer of Soul immediately to the point in which Barb and Star didn’t land any laughs the following morning. My thoughts last year were that these two are immediate awards contenders. For me, it made zero sense to really discuss CODA until its release on Apple. Who would such a discussion benefit? I mean, once the trailer comes out, everything is fair game for festival releases. But even with this year’s film festival, I found myself thinking that John Boyega, Aubrey Plaza, and Rebecca Hall delivered awards-worthy performances. But outside of individual performances, no narrative features blew me away in the same way that CODA did. The documentaries are a different story with films such as Aftershock, Descendant, Fire of Love, and Navalny to name a few. I should not be thinking about next awards season in JANUARY.
I’m already expecting non-Jewish film critics will talk up Cha Cha Real Smooth during awards season even though the film is not realistic when it comes to parents who are not friends with the parents of the child celebrating a Bar and Bat Mitzvah. And yet, I’ll probably see people discussing this film all year! I’m already seeing reviews erase Jewish girls simply by using Bar Mitzvah as a catch-all. The more I think about the film, the more I want to change my score on Rotten Tomatoes. The love story is fine, don’t get me wrong. However, the chances of them meeting at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah just isn’t realistic at all. Even at that, I fully expect that the film won’t be received well in the Jewish community when they learn that the main focus is on two non-Jewish characters.
But to get back to the point, awards season needs to go back to September-February/March when it comes to movies. No more kicking off the following year’s Oscars discussion in January. It is way too early. At the very least, make it a habit of finishing the current awards season before moving on to the next. Even discussing in April or May is too early. I don’t even start thinking about awards season until September at the earliest. Do a Google search for 2023 Oscars and you’ll find pages on IMDb, Letterboxd, Reddit, etc. That’s not to even take Twitter discussions into account although a verified user seems to think Cyrano is 2023 candidate. Newsflash: Cyrano received an Oscar-qualifying run in December 2021 and isn’t eligible for Oscar-qualifying year that kicked off on January 1, 2022.