Tubthump Awards: Honoring The Best and Worst of the Oscar Campaign Season

Tubthump Awards Sandra Bullock Alfonso Cauron

Variety's Tim Gray gives kudos to the awards season road warriors

Here is exactly what this town needs: Another set of awards!

Maybe not, but the first Tubthump Awards recognize the best and worst efforts during a long and intense awards-campaign season.

So here are a few highlights — and lowlights.

Best host: At the WGA Beyond Words event Jan. 28, prexy Chris Keyser praised the guild for uniting a solitary profession, saying, “We write alone together.”

Worst host: Brad Garrett, at the WGA Awards Feb. 1. The room was slack-jawed as he mocked talented people for their ethnic background, sexual persuasion or physical appearance.

Most tireless campaigners (tie): Steve Coogan and Bruce Dern. Since Stephen Frears and Judi Dench were working, Coogan had to fly the “Philomena” flag almost single-handedly. Dern knew it was part of the job and actually seemed to enjoy it.

Best interplay: Presenter Sandra Bullock and winner Alfonso Cuaron at the DGA Awards (above). She deadpanned she was often in a tiny lightbox listening to him through an earpiece: “I had no idea what the man was saying.” Their affectionate jokes about his accent showed that they could be the Lucy & Ricky Ricardo of the 21st century.

Best acceptance speech innovation: Diane Keaton at the Golden Globes and Rita Moreno at the SAG Awards sang part of their speeches.

Classiest setting: The USC Scripter dinner-awards were held at the 1932 Doheny Library on the USC campus.

Weirdest enthusiasm: When Jehane Noujaim accepted her docu prize at the DGA Jan. 25, she said “The Square” hadn’t been cleared by censors in Egypt. “But it has been pirated, copied and uploaded again and again, and 750,000 people have seen it in the last couple of days,” she said. The audience gave thunderous applause, apparently unaware that their own films could receive similar treatment.

Best speeches: Bono at the Palm Springs Film Fest, talking about Nelson Mandela and the progress made in HIV/AIDS fight. Harry Belafonte saluting Steve McQueen at N.Y. Film Critics. Sam Simon, earning big laughs and tears talking about his cancer as he accepted the Valentine Davies humanitarian award at the WGA. John Ridley of “12 Years a Slave” at the USC Scripter Awards, choking up as he spoke about fellow recipient Solomon Northup. (The Scripters honor original authors plus screen adapters.)

Worst ad: The N.Y. Times’ full-page ad in January with a single A.O. Scott Twitter item about listening to the soundtrack of “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Best party variation: Concerts. “Inside Llewyn Davis” held one in November, then came a “Saving Mr. Banks” sing-along with Richard Sherman, several concerts for “20 Feet From Stardom” and this month, Disney’s concert of the “Frozen” songs with the original artists.

Worst party innovation: Last-minute events. On the Jan. 4-5 weekend, awards strategists suddenly realized Oscar ballots were due Jan. 8, so assembled multiple parties.

Best one-line sell: Alex Gibney started filming a heartwarming documentary about Lance Armstrong’s healthy return to the Tour de France. When it was nearly completed, Armstrong admitted his use of performance-enhancing drugs, so the doc was transformed into “The Armstrong Lie.” At a Q&A, the filmmaker deadpanned, “We went from ‘Breaking Away’ to ‘Breaking Bad.’ ”

Best self-revelation: At WGA’s Beyond Words panel, Tracy Letts was asked about the mean character played by Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County.” “Well, that’s my grandmother,” he said to the audience. “I found out to my horror and surprise, she’s your mother too.”

Best followup: On the same panel, “Wolf of Wall Street’s” Terence Winter deadpanned, “Jordan Belfort was very much based on my grandmother.”

Most overused trend: Q&As

Best category: The sixth annual Shorty Awards recognize social media, with categories including #Comedian, #SportsTeam and #FanSite. They also have a category called Weird, which every award should have.

The undisputed winner of winners: “Breaking Bad.” This is allegedly film-awards season, but the series swept PGA, DGA, WGA, SAG, Globes and the ACE editing award (where it had scored four of the five nominations).

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  1. Steve Warren says:

    The worst of the Oscar campaign season has to include the latest wave of Woody Allen rumors. They’re just too well-timed to be coincidental.

    • cadavra says:

      The timing has less to do with the Oscars and much more to do with the about-to-open (and very expensive) Broadway musical adaptation of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, for which Allen also wrote the book. New Yorkers tend to forget that the Great White Way doesn’t seem to interest people west of the Hudson the way it used to.

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