A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit
In the waning days of 2022 we are taking one last deep breath before the insanity begins and the dispensing of actual awards shifts into high gear as 2023 begins. Right off the bat on January 5 the Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala returns for the first time in three years to take place in that massive PS Convention Center with all those bejewelled and tuxedoed desert rats in attendance to get a glimpse of Cate Blanchett or Brendan Fraser or Viola Davis trying to manage to hold on to that massive trophy PSIFF hands out while giving a thank you speech that might serve as an audition tape for the multitude of ceremonies to follow in the first two and a half months of the new year.
A DIZZYING ARRAY OF AWARDS GALAS
Then in fast succession we get the return of the Golden Globes on January 10, a Tuesday (say what? ) as the beleaguered Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hoping for a fresh restart, celebrates their 80th annual awards fest on what may – or may not – be their last go round with NBC which agreed to host the 2023 broadcast after cancelling it last year, but with ratings and star turnout closely watched to determine if the option will be picked up beyond this date. It will be followed in close succession by the AFI Awards Luncheon on January 13, and the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards on Sunday January 15 (although the Critics Choice Association has really been warming up with fancy separate awards “Celebrations” honoring Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Cinema and Television as well as a NYC gala spotlighting the year’s best documentaries). Along with all this the NYFCC hands out their awards on January 4 and the National Board of Review on January 8 (winners for both previously announced).
ELVIS TURNS 88
Meanwhile the campaign events all aimed at Oscar reheat up with Warner Bros and Mike DeLuca and Pam Abdy celebrating Elvis Presley’s 88th birthday on Sunday January 8 ( he would be the same age as Maggie Smith who turned 88 on Wednesday) with Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler saluting the King, while at the exact same time Netflix will be offering a “Celebration Toast” to their various awards nominees at a plush L.A. night spot. No doubt there will be more to come before Oscar voters start marking their nomination ballots on January 12, and PGA nominations are announced that day too, preceded by DGA and SAG nominations on January 11. Whew. So little time.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GLOBES PARTIES GONE?
However not partying so much will be the town immediately following the Globes at the Beverly Hilton on that Tuesday. The show is always touted as “Hollywood’s Party of the Year”, and it may still be that, but this time around it won’t be Hollywood’s after-parties of the year, or so it seems.
First off this year it is not on a Sunday since for decades the Globes action has always been on a weekend so that may be a consideration, but also maybe there is just some skittishness on behalf of studios who in pre-pandemic, pre-scandal times took over the whole hotel for various post Globe telecast soirees. You could always count on the likes of Universal, HBO, Warner Bros-In Style, Netflix, Disney, Sony, Paramount , and in a galaxy far far away The Weinstein Co and Fox to reserve spaces at the Hilton for hoped-for victory celebrations. Apparently not this year, at least as I write this. We aren’t hearing about any of them ponying up the bucks so far, except possibly NBC and the Globes themselves, and an unexpected newbie to the post-GG party scene, Billboard Magazine which I was told has a hold (maybe they are confused and think this is the Grammys, but the publication is directly connected to Globes CEO Todd Boehly who also acquired a stake in the Beverly Hilton and adjoining Waldorf in 2018). Stay tuned.
The good news for the Globes are all those For Your Consideration ads once again prominently touting their Golden Globe nominations, as well as big billboards around town doing the same. I just passed one on Santa Monica Blvd last night for Babylon lit up with news of its 5 Globe nominations. The stars may also be aligning for the GG’s as studio reps to whom we have talked are busy making travel plans for several of their nominees to attend the show, the key thing NBC is hoping to see bring the glamour back. It is understandably hard to resist the opportunity to be handed gold statuettes on a nationally televised show. The wattage may be high, and likely to carry over to AFI and Critics Choice just a few days later.
OSCARS VS GLOBES: WHAT IS THE CASH VALUE?
Speaking of the Globes , and the Oscars, have you ever wondered what the actual cash value of one of those statuettes vs the other is really worth on the open market? We got a good indication of that difference just before Christmas when on December 17 Dallas-based auction house put the hammer down on both of Edmund Gwenn’s Oscar and Golden Globe awards. In case you are wondering, Gwenn, who died at age 81 in 1959, was a much in demand character actor who to this day is still the only star ever to win an Academy Award by playing Santa Claus.
He famously took on the role as Kris Kringle in the beloved 1947 Christmas classic, Miracle On 34th Street and won the hearts of Oscar and Globe voters. His estate or someone with connections to him and /or his memorabailia put both up in the auction along with some other items including another Globe for 1950’s Mister 880, as well as the Santa Claus suit he wore, the latter going for $42,500.
Because this Oscar was won before 1950 when AMPAS changed the rules and made winners sign papers that would guarantee the Academy the first option to pay $1 for their Oscar should they – or their heirs – ever decide to part with it, it is still kind of a free market for Oscars won in the 21 years before then. Michael Jackson famously paid $1.5 million for a Gone With The Wind Best Picture Oscar in 1999, while a Citizen Kane Screenplay Oscar of Orson Welles sold for $861, 542 in 2011.
The Edmund Gwenn Supporting Oscar (though on the engraving it doesn’t stipulate lead or support) sold well past its $60,000 starting bid for a whopping $162,500, way more than his Golden Globe for Miracle On 34th Street which went for $20,000, still considerably more than its starting bid of $8000 (the Mister 880 Globe went only for $9,375.00). The timing of the Christmas season may have played a factor in the appeal, but the Oscar took a huge $142,000 more than the Globe. Sounds about right. Incidentally an example of a unique Bronze Oscar used during World War 2 to save on materials (but not one given to a winner) went for $25,000 in the same auction, as did another Golden Globe given to Zsa Zsa Gabor for being the “Most Glamorous Star of 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1962” sold for $8750.00 and is already back up for direct sale by its new owner for $13,125.00. If you have that cash , it could be yours. Now you have to wonder what Tom Cruise could have fetched for those three Golden Globes he packed up and mailed back to the HFPA?
Back to the race this year where new hopefuls are hoping to get their hands on an Oscar they don’t have to get into an auction to win. One of them is the delightful Phillipines native, Dolly De Leon who manages to steal Ruben Ostlund’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Triangle Of Sadness from a killer cast, no easy task. She plays an elaborate yacht’s “toilet manager” who through circumstance and a shipwreck manages to land on a deserted island and turns the tables on the much wealthier survivors who are in the same boat as it were. For her performance in the wild comedy I have in my Top 5 of the year, she has already won the LA Film Critics Supporting Performance award, is up for a London Film Critics and Golden Globe as well, and if there is any justice will be nominated for SAG and Oscars Supporting Actress.
She is that good, but as she told me recently she never had an idea she would get an opportunity like this, but once the film premiered in Cannes in May she was an instant celebrity on the Croisette which she thought was so odd. “I think that what’s happened was so surreal. It was unbelievable how it was received there. I didn’t even have an agent before it. I had an agent once but just three years ago, it was very short. I went to the audition just with a very brief summary of the film and the sides of the film, three scenes, and then I went there and auditioned with the casting director, because Ruben didn’t go to the Philippines. I just enjoyed the moment and was lucky enough to be chosen,” she modestly says, and now I think she may be “lucky enough” to go all the way to the Dolby Theatre on March 12. Be sure to check out my interview with Triangle Of Sadness director/writer Ruben Ostlund who is the guest on this week’s edition of my The Hamden Journal video series, Behind The Lens.
JAMES CORDEN IN ‘THE WHALE’
Finally, Brendan Fraser, like Dolly De Leon, is another actor looking for their first dance with Oscar, but in Brendan’s case it has been a much longer time coming, but every bit as well deserved. He has so far been nominated for just about any award you can think of for this performance in The Whale, Darren Aronofsky’s moving story of a 600 pound man desperately trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter before it is too late. Aronofsky did a wide casting search over the ten years since he had optioned the play on which the movie is based, and getting to the point where Fraser is about to meet his Oscar moment had a lot of twists and turns, including one fascinating little nugget James Corden happened to mention to me as we were waiting to start a recent Q&A for his Amazon series, Mammals.
He asked what I had seen lately that I liked and I happened to mention The Whale. He had not seen it at that point but had a connection. “I was going to play that part, and Tom Ford was going to direct,” he said going on to note that it ultimately didn’t happen because Ford wanted more complete control of the project. Corden also thinks he may have been too young to do it justice. He then told me George Clooney also got involved with it at one point but only wanted to make the film if they could find an actual 600 pound unknown to play the lead role. The complications of that were too much, as you might imagine, and Clooney never got involved beyond that brief flirtation with the property.
When I talked to Aronofsky recently I casually asked him about what Corden told me and he confirmed all of it. James Corden in The Whale ? Who knows what that would have been like? He certainly has a connection to ‘Mammals’ as the title of his current series indicates. However after seeing the movie that has finally made it to the screen, you really can’t imagine anyone getting near what Brendan Fraser achieves in the role of his life.
Have a great New Years and see you back here again in 2023!