I am a big fan of film.
I love going to the cinema; I’ve had a Cineworld unlimited card for more years than I can remember which has encouraged me to go and see some films that I wouldn’t buy a ticket for.
I look forward to seeing what’s going to be on at the London Film Festival (LFF) and then making some very random (at at times risky) decisions about what I should go and see – rarely the blockbusters that are guaranteed a release, but the smaller, independent films that sometimes never see the light of day again.
But there is one thing I have mixed feelings about when it comes to film. Awards season.
December to February each year seems to be when the cinemas are full of films that have been hotly tipped for Oscar / Bafta / Golden Globe success. As the nominations get announced in December / January, it’s hard to miss the news about which films have and haven’t got the nominations they ‘deserve’. I do enjoy seeing who wins each year, and have been quite vocal in the past about films / people that have missed out or not won when, in my opinion, they were the most deserving. But I don’t want to know any of this before I see a film.
I have a very strange way of choosing what films to watch, either at the cinema or in the comfort in my own home.
I’ve been known to go and see a film knowing nothing about it apart from it’s title, maybe who’s in it. I’ll always remember going to see A History of Violence and not enjoying the level of violence in the film! (I know, the title should’ve given it away) Very rarely do I choose a film based on how many awards it was nominated for / won.
I try and avoid film reviews before seeing them. I like to see films that I want to see (for whatever random reason) and make my own mind up about them. I hate going in to see a film being told that its the best film ever (how many times have film critics said that?!) as it raises my expectations – and I have to say, I think low expectations are often a good thing as then you can’t be disappointed. Pessimistic maybe but that’s me.
I went to see La La Land last week. A film I wanted to see as soon as I first heard about it (without the hype) and that was reaffirmed when my brother saw it at LFF (despite his mixed review). A film I wanted to see before its record breaking success at the Golden Globes* but would now be difficult to watch without having very high expectations. I love a good musical, I’m a soppy romantic, and I do rate both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, so things were looking optimistic.
But I couldn’t simply go along and enjoy it for what it was. It was now a mass award winner which had received heaps and heaps of praise. I’ll cut to the chase – I enjoyed it but I was a little disappointed. It was not the film I thought I was going to see. The colour leaped off the screen and it looked beautiful throughout. I walked away singing City of Stars the whole way home – and listened to the soundtrack (on repeat) all day the following day.
I rarely agree with film critics but I love the way Mark Kermode summed up the film as a “magical love letter to the golden age of Hollywood” as it certainly does have an element of nostalgia to it, however I wouldn’t give this film a full 5 star review. Unfortunately, I’ll never know whether my view of the film would be the same if there hadn’t been all the awards hype.
Today the nominations for the 2017 Oscars have been announced – and La La Land leads the way with 14 nominations. After winning all seven of the Golden Globes it was nominated for, a record first, is it going to be a walkaway success at the Oscars too? And does the film live up to all this hype? I wonder if it’ll be one of those films that, after all the hype has died down, people will see differently. After all, it wouldn’t be the first film to have had people question years later whether it was worthy of all the awards. Only time will tell, but I’m not 100% convinced it will.
* I don’t want to use this to give my opinion on whether it deserves the awards or not as I’ve not seen enough of the other films that were nominated against it. However, in the best actress category I do think Hailee Steinfeld was outstanding in The Edge of Seventeen – go see it if you haven’t.