On Awards Shows

Why Watch Bad Films

Every year, my writing partner on ReelHeroes.net, Dr. Scott Allison and I discuss the idea of reviewing films on the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations lists. Scott prefers to review movies he knows are going to be of high quality, whereas I like a sort of random draw – reviewing both bad and good movies. I find I learn more from a bad movie than a good movie. Scott’s position is pretty pragmatic – he just hates to spend money on bad films.

I think everyone should know what the Golden Globes and Oscars are really about. They’re not necessarily the best films – just the films that industry insiders think are good. This doesn’t mean that you, the viewing audience, will enjoy them. It’s just that their peers think they did a good job.

Golden Globes

In particular, the Golden Globes are awarded by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Consider this for a moment. There is an entire awards show that influences the purchase of tickets by the viewing public by a very small number of people.

Do *you* really want to go to a movie because 93 photographers and journalists from 55 different countries liked it? In my estimation, that’s a lot of power for a very small pool of individuals about whom I know next to nothing and may not even have the same cultural sensitivities that I have.

Academy Awards

The Oscars, on the other hand, are awards given by peers of the artists creating the films – as many as 8,000 members. One thing you may not know is that to qualify for an Oscar in 2018, the film had to be released in a certain number of theaters (in Los Angelas, CA)  before December 31, 2018. And, the Academy tends to favor films released near the end of the year. So, very often, Oscar-worthy films are not released until December, and then only in limited release.

The Oscar nominations are announced in late January with the ceremony about one month later in late February. This means that many of the films and artists nominated are for films most of us never saw in theaters.

The voters are grouped in branches or divisions. The actors number about 1300 members and are the strongest influence on the award. The voting is highly political and often sentimental. So, if an actor or director happens to be unpopular among their peers, they may not get up-voted – despite having created great art. Likewise, an actor who has contributed a long life of excellent work, but has never won an Oscar, could be voted an award despite a lackluster performance – just out of sympathy.

Also, the studios will spend millions of dollars sending gifts and advertising to the voters to influence their vote. Very often, the film that most successfully courts Academy members with pre-release copies of the film and bling can win – despite the public never really having seen the film.

So, just because a film wins a Golden Globe or an Oscar doesn’t necessarily mean that *you* will enjoy it. In fact, there’s a good chance that you won’t. Because the films aren’t graded on their entertainment value for a mass audience, but on an elite cast of players’ opinion of the artistic merit of the cast and crew of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes

In my humble opinion, if you want to know if a film is any good, or if you’ll enjoy it, check out two metrics that I look at. The first is box office performance. Generally speaking, if a film tanks at the box office, there’s a very good reason for it. Secondly, I find RottenTomatoes.com is a great reflection of how an audience responds to a film.

Rotten Tomatoes has two ratings. The first number is an aggregation of what professional film critics think of the film. That may not be useful to you. Like the professionals of the Golden Globe and Oscars, critics often look for things a mass audience doesn’t care about. The second number is based on audience members who saw the film and either up-voted or down-voted the movie.

I find this second number very telling. For example, Adam Sandler movies are often panned by the critics because the quality is very low and critics don’t appreciate sophomoric humor. However, the audience scores will be significantly higher – because Adam Sandler knows his audience and he plays to that crowd.

Recommendations

So, if you want to determine if a film as going to be entertaining, especially if you have tastes that swing wide from critics’ views, check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores. And after you’ve watched the film, check out our review at ReelHeroes.net where we review films based on the quality of the heroic elements of the film. See if you agree with us and let us know what you think.