In April, for example, you’ve got your annual Italian Film Awards based in Los Angeles and honoring excellence in Italian and Italian American filmmaking. Among the presenting organization’s board members- icons of Italian cinema such as Karen Black and Melanie Griffith. Hey, what do you want-it’s April.
In June, Mtv puts on its hip, semi-dippy version of the Oscars with its annual Movie Awards broadcast. The show has been around for ten years now. Tell me that doesn’t make you feel decrepit. It’s distinguished primarily by cutesy categories: Best Kiss, Best Fight, Best Villain etc. For serious aficionados, definitely not the Best Bet.
A barrage of awards and nominations follows in late fall with the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle all making announcements compulsively characterized by the press as Oscar precursors.
The next thing you know, it’s January, when you can watch as many as three-count-’em-three-movie award ceremonies in the span of a single week! Every organization which starts a new one wants to get the biggest jump on the Oscars so they keep popping up earlier and earlier in the new year. This year the glut began January 5 on CBS with a brand new event put on by the American Film Institute, AFI Awards 2001. “The first award show of the year. The first award show of its kind. All your favorite stars will be there on opening night” promised its promos and print ads.
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Maybe someone forgot to send out the invitations or maybe most of the big names in town considered the shindig too small time (only 4 of the 15 winners for individual achievement bothered to drop by). Whatever the reason, the result was a series of no-shows and “accepting on behalf of” speeches which turned into a running joke and by far the evening’s most entertaining feature.
That wasn’t enough, however, to discourage CBS from following with the 28th People’s Choice Awards days later on the 13th. A popularity contest disguised as a chi chi awards ceremony, the broadcast announced the results of a nationwide Gallup poll conducted between November of 2000 and October of last year (another words, before any of this year’s most significant films were even released) in which average Americans were asked to name their favorite TV shows, movies and show business personalities. With cinematic milestones like The Fast and the Furious and Pearl Harbor among the top vote getters, this was at any rate one competition no one in the press refered to as an Oscar precursor.
The Critics’ Choice Awards took place the next day on E!. The ceremony, put on each year by the Broadcast Film Critics Association (the country’s largest organization of reviewers) was hosted suavely by Bill Maher and offered a breath of fresh air by announcing sensible selections in sensible categories as determined by perhaps the most legitimate voting body of any awards ceremony. And I’m not just saying that because I belong to it. Well, sure I am.
Get the rest of the story in part three of NOT ANOTHER ENVELOPE PLEASE!