Award season is in full swing and 2012′s blockbusters nervously await the decisions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, (The Oscars). Another august body, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), scrutinises film just in advance of The Oscars, but there is no shortage of recognised, available awards; these range from those dedicated to film as a pure artform, to those attracting the critics’ acclaim, to others that emphasise their commercial success, etc.
Peter Jackson told Entertainment Weekly last month:
“I wish it was a year where we could celebrate Ian McKellen as supporting actor, or Martin Freeman – or Andy Serkis, for that matter – as a supporting actor. The acting awards seem to elude us, at least for these types of films. I don’t know why.”
Well, that’s an interesting question.
It is not as if The Hobbit is short of great actors, (OK, it has one at least), or even just excellent to brilliant ones, (many examples of these in all four movies). Some of the actors appearing in The Hobbit appeared in the LotR Trilogy, but only one, Sir Ian McKellen, was ever nominated in an acting category at the Academy Awards.
What if The Rings and Hobbit trilogies had been considered purely on their cinematic merits alone? Perhaps I am assuming too much; however, I reckon that I might currently be in just such a position in being exposed to another great work of fiction: Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo. It is considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century, but has now become a commercial phenomenon having been made into a successful musical, also is fully expected to become one of 2013′s blockbuster movies. But I have never seen the musical, have never even had the plot explained to me let alone read the book. I go to see the film this coming Saturday and doubtless many of our readers are in a similar position to me with respect to works of art or literature made into film that concern them in their own corners of the universe.
Perhaps I am just not very well read, but I do begin to wonder if actually Victor Hugo is quite difficult and many people’s first encounter with the great work was the musical, having never read the book either, (I am just waiting for the first commenter that writes: you’re right – you are not well read!) Will this enhance its reception at the next Oscars as a film, in a way that The Hobbit cannot with its status as a widely read cult classic? Maybe, rather perversely, it will end up by being compared adversely with the stage musical regardless of its faithfulness to the book?
Perhaps film and acting in films are not being judged purely upon their filmic merits; perhaps they are.
(If you want reminding what The Hobbit has been nominated for this year, the categories are:
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN, BEST VISUAL EFFECTS and BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING).