NEXT SUNDAY’s Golden Globes precede – and often influence – the outcome of the Oscars. Thanks to cheeky Brit Ricky Gervais, more than ever, ‘‘the Globes’’ trounce the Academy’s big night for sheer entertainment value.
Who could forget Gervais insulting Hollywood’s startled elite this time last year? His irrerevence is welcome relief in an increasingly controlled, and predictable Hollywood environment.
The public obviously agrees – TV ratings shot up after Gervais assumed hosting duties two years ago. He’s turned the normal (mostly) predictable procession of a movie awards night into must-see TV.
Does it matter who ultimately wins? Would it be a turn-off if it does end up being George Clooney’s year, as is expected? Does Hollywood even care?
Alexander Payne, director of Best Picture favourite THE DESCENDANTS – starring Clooney – knows only too well that awards are good for business. Payne has been ‘away’ from movies since 2004’s smash SIDEWAYS (for which he won a Best Screenplay Oscar). He is now eager to make more – and fast. Awards nominations – as well as box office results – help ensure that happens.
“That sort of attention is a fine commodity to keep making films, more than receiving praise,” he says.
Whether he snags the big one or not, Payne knows his attendance is vital to his ability to make “adult contemporary dramas” in a business fit to bursting with remakes, sequels and 3D-related gimmicks.
“Where’s KRAMER VS KRAMER, where’s ORDINARY PEOPLE, where’s TERMS OF ENDEARMENT?” Payne asks. “I would like to see an American cinema that presents American life: where I recognise my country, and people I know. I want a French cinema about French people, I want an Australian cinema about Australian people. Making films about ourselves, that are universal.”
Payne has already proved an audience for ‘films about ourselves’ still exists. In 2004 SIDEWAYS sailed past the $US100 million mark at the global box office, scooped the best comedy and best screenplay awards at the Golden Globes and made a star out of Paul Giamatti. THE DESCENDANTS looks at least likely to match that.
Our own event, the newly rebranded AACTAs, follows next week’s Globes (and this year’s Oscar nominations announcement), later this month. It’s a reminder of our renaissance on screen which, says 2012 nominee Alexandra Schepisi – daughter of legendary Australian filmmaker Fred Schepisi, and now a bona fide star and filmmaker in her own right – is essential in maintaining momentum.
“Australia’s made some quite phenomenal stuff in the past year,” she says. “Our talent is shining, we’re coming up with the goods, it’s brilliant. It makes me incredibly proud. Why not celebrate it?”
Despite the quality, local films haven’t done well at the box office – RED DOG aside. Clearly, we need reminding as much as we need entertaining. Maybe we need to find our own Ricky Gervais so people find out about the great Australian flicks being made?
First published in The Sun-Herald.