The dates are set for a flood of screenings, cocktail receptions and Q&A sessions, with plenty more to come. This means only one thing: Awards season is here!So it’s time for our second annual series of awards columns, in which we will wander through the kudos world like a Tinseltown Margaret Mead, observing the strange rituals of the natives. I’ve always liked awards because they are like time capsules, offering clues about the tastes and priorities of each era. As such, the 2009-10 season should be one of the craziest and most unpredictable in memory — because this has been a year of massive changes. In the past six months, four of the majors have seen top-level exec shifts, reflecting the turbulence as everything changes: the backing (so long, hedge funds!), the salaries (au revoir, first-dollar gross!) and the marketing (auf wiedersehen, ad buys in consumer newspapers!). There are changes in film budgets: The marketing for “Paranormal Activity” cost a gazillion times more than production; Is this an anomaly or an omen?). And there have been shifts in word of mouth (Twittering and texting were credited with “Bruno’s” 39% B.O. drop from opening day to Saturday) and in audiences’ viewing rituals (Redbox, Netflix, downloads, VOD have all found places in the release window). So what does all this mean for awards season? Changes have begun; the question is whether these are just cosmetic changes or whether they portend fundamental shifts in the kudos business:
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Producers Guild have expanded their best-pic races to 10 nominations.
- There are so many films from female, gay, minority and foreign-language helmers that seem worthy of consideration this year that it’s possible the best-director noms might not include a single English-speaking, Caucasian, straight male. It’s not likely, but, for the first time, it’s possible. n In the days of “Bwana Devil” and “It Came From Outer Space,” who thought 3D would be a factor in awards consideration?
- The list of companies on the kudos scene includes new players (such as the Bob Berney-Bill Pohlad Apparition), and newish ones (Summit, Overture), while established ones are stepping up (IFC, Magnolia) and one of the old mainstays is seriously altered (Miramax).