The Importance of Film Award Shows

Photo: Nicole Rojo


Photo: Nicole Elizabeth

In anticipation of pinnacle events like the Academy Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, the Sentry will spend the upcoming weeks looking back on some of 2016’s most vibrant explorations in filmmaking.

Award shows often come under fire for broadcasting an incestuous, self-celebratory breed of elitism—see “rich people giving other rich people golden statues” and other oft-quoted oversimplifications—but we aim to complicate that reading. In contrast to previous years, many films up for the most prestigious awards are a demonstration of both high craft and momentous diversity, and that leaves audiences with a lot to celebrate.

Accusations of elitism aren’t completely unfounded. The top 10 grossing movies of any given year hardly ever score nominations, a pattern that seems like a rejection of accessibility and popular opinion. This is a problem, and the nomination process needs to modernize to account for it. But while the likes of J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon will probably go on to make many more movies with or without an Oscar, smaller filmmakers depend on these awards to advance or even continue their careers.

The institution of award shows creates a platform for films to exist outside the demands of the box office. Small scale projects with no hope of wide release would probably be much less likely to get financed if the shelf life of a film began and ended with ticket revenue. While some award-nominated films are saturated with pretentiousness, many more are able to practice the art of filmmaking—complete with originality, innovation, and risky storytelling—without worrying about how to appeal to the widest common denominator. Without the Academy Awards and all of its sister shows, there would be many more Independence Day: Resurgences and far fewer Whiplashes.

Throughout our award coverage, we’ll consider how these films managed to raise the bar and challenge expectations or if they failed to do either. We also hope to hear from our readers: Is La La Land overrated? Is Amy Adams destined to become the next Leonardo DiCaprio? As we publish longer form reviews, we’d love to print blurbs from our readers and curate a wide range of opinions concerning 2016’s hits and misses. We hope you enjoy the Sentry’s new Awards Beat section, and we look forward to hearing from you

Taylor Kirby
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