Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
Jenny McCartney writes, for The Telegraph, how this year’s Oscars could spell the start of a new Golden Age:
“The candidates for Best Picture – including 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena, American Hustle and Gravity – each offer something of uniquely memorable quality… I’m not alone in thinking this: in the US, there is talk of a “golden age”. Michael De Luca, a producer on the Oscar-nominated film Captain Phillips, said: “There’s incredible work being done … Not to over-inflate it, but it looks like it could be another renaissance.“
Read the full article here.
Her article digs into the finance of the films, and how only three of the contenders – Gravity, Nebraska and Captain Phillips – were wholly financed by the studio system. And, according to Charles Gant in Sight and Sound (and looking at the figures on Box Office Mojo), Nebraska is the only film to “miss its mark”, currently taking in a worldwide box-office of $16.5m after spending an $11m budget (Nb – for a film to make its money back, it needs to double its production cost to compensate for publicity and exhibitor costs).
But let’s consider some of the contenders from the previous few years. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help and The Blindside have failed to hold a positive reputation. When the nominees were released, many mocked the inclusion of these twee choices. This year, if The Butler appeared in the nominees, it would’ve filled this void. But it didn’t get a nomination.
In fact, Inside Llewyn Davis’ moody, corduroy-clad glum-guitarist didn’t even get a nomination. A film made by Oscar-winners the Coen brothers (winning in 2008 for No Country for Old Men), who seem to make an appearance annually didn’t get a look in, except for nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Cinematography.
This year, the nominees are incredibly strong, and their success at the box-office prove as much. The justification for Gravity winning Best Picture is akin to the arguments for Avatar winning in 2009 – except Gravity holds an artistic integrity that James Cameron and his blue-folk never held. Philomena is the British darling that has snuck in, akin to An Education and Atonement, and it has not only reduced audiences to tears, but it has dramatically changed the credibility of Steve Coogan. No longer is he the actor in The Parole Officer.
Finally, the argument as to which will win is underlined by the importance of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Whether you prefer Gravity or American Hustle, the lack of cinema that depicts the brutality and harrowing truth of slavery means that 12 Years a Slave, whether it wins or not, will never be forgotten. Maybe not a Golden Age just yet, but things are going in the right direction…