This Week, Neil Calloway argues that it’s time we ended the award ceremony…
When Hugh Laurie received his Golden Globe last month, he made a joke that it would be the final time the ceremony would take place; the awards are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Hollywood, the press and foreigners are all things that Donald Trump hates.
Of course, barring a disaster, 2017 won’t be the last ever Golden Globes, but perhaps time should be called on another award ceremony. Tonight (Sunday) sees the 70th BAFTA awards. Most people are claiming their pension at that age, so maybe it’s time to shake their hand, give them a gold watch and tell them they’ll get an invite to the Christmas party, but it’s time to take up knitting or golf.
We can kid ourselves, when we see Hollywood stars on the red carpet, but in reality, in the pantheon of awards ceremonies, the BAFTAs comes a poor fourth, lagging behind the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the various awards handed out by film industry guilds. To be honest, it probably comes after the awards given out by the big film festivals.
The BAFTAs try to hard to be relevant and the Oscars’ best friend when they should be about the best British films. This year, only two (Arrival and I, Daniel Blake) of the five nominees for best film had been released in Britain when the nominations were announced. One of them, Moonlight, still hasn’t been shown on British screens. Only I, Daniel Blake is is remotely British out of those nominees. We’re relying on a film directed by an 80 year old to carry the flag. It’s been years since the last time a properly British film – shot here, by a British crew, telling a British story, won the top award.
While the BAFTAs attempts to be ahead of the curve on some awards, it is distinctly a member of the chasing pack when giving out other gongs. Last year, the Rising Star Award went to John Boyega. Give the guy an award by all means; but he’d just been in one of the biggest films ever; not so much “rising” but “risen”. Dakota Johnson was also up for the award; the daughter of two successful actors and who had appeared in one of the most hyped films of all time. These aren’t exactly names that need a leg up and are people to watch; the great mass of cinema going public are already watching them.
In 2011, Chris Morris won the BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for his first film, Four Lions. A fine film, but why give an award to Morris, who had a twenty year career in radio and TV behind him? It was a debut in technical detail only. Gareth Edwards, nominated that year for Monsters, would surely have been a better choice.
The BAFTAs seem to put the big Hollywood films first and only think of the British talent as an afterthought; on a night when they should be singing the praises of great native talent, we’re bowing and scraping to the Americans; we have enough of that from our political masters without our film industry doing it too.
The BAFTAs is a unique opportunity in the year to showcase and promote British films; people will still tune in to see Stephen Fry make smug jokes, but maybe, if home grown movies are put front and centre, they’ll go to the cinema to see them too. Year after year the BAFTAs fail to do anything about the “B” of BAFTA. It’s time we said bye.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.