Open Season on Awards

It’s open season. Not duck season, not deer season. It’s awards season, and you don’t even need a permit to collect your bounty.

The next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some lesser-known—but perhaps more interesting—award shows.

By the way, my opening you just read was terrible. Dreadful. Hokey. But it could have easily been an introduction at an awards show.

The Golden Globes ushered in 2017 awards season two weeks ago, and the next month will bring not only the most prestigious film and music award shows but also some lesser-known—but perhaps more interesting—award shows.

Award shows can be very stilted and provide Hollywood with an ongoing “Hey, look at me!” moment (after moment after moment), but they are worth watching for the suspense and that one unscripted moment (think Cuba Gooding Jr. at the Oscars in 1997) that almost makes four hours of watching worth it. Here’s a look at award shows coming up in the next month:

Awards: Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

Date: January 29, airing on TNT and TBS

About: This show is all about performances. There are 15 awards for film and television, including awards for an entire cast. Directors, writers, cinematographers need not apply.

Unique quality: The SAG Awards are the only major award shows to honor stunt actors, giving awards for “stunt ensemble” for both film and television series.

Nominee spotlight: Going up against the casts of Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Fences, and Manchester by the Sea, fifth and final nominee Captain Fantastic stands as much chance of winning the Film Ensemble Award as I do of winning a Pulitzer Prize for this column. The other four movies are all Academy Award Best Picture nominees, and Captain Fantastic is just happy to be nominated here. Director Matt Ross deserves credit, however, for juggling a generationally diverse cast that included two grade-school children, four teenagers, and 76-year-old Frank Langella. Viggo Mortensen, who received a Best Actor nod in the Academy Awards, led this talented cast, but those who played his six children excelled as Mortensen’s cohesive-yet-dysfunctional family unit.

Awards: Grammys

Date: February 12, airing on CBS

About: The music industry’s answer to the Academy Awards, the Grammys are known for honoring sales as much as quality. Critical darlings that sell thousands of copies rarely reach the podium for major categories, despite universal acclaim.

Unique quality: With 84 categories, the Grammys have a lot of ground to cover, but usually feature fewer than 20 percent of their categories on the prime-time broadcast, spending more time focusing on the show’s live performances. Unique categories including Best Surround Sound Album, Best Recording Package, and Best Album Notes.

Nominee spotlight: Megastars Beyoncé, Adele, Justin Bieber, and Drake dominate the Album of the Year, the Grammys’ top category. But somehow country singer Sturgill Simpson snuck in the back door, beating out the likes of David Bowie for Album of the Year. Simpson, who is a rebel old-school voice in age of cookie-cutter country, released a great album in 2016 called A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. Simpson enhanced his album with a great horn section on the war protest song “Call to Arms.”

Awards: Film Independent Spirit

Date: February 25, airing on IFC

About: This award show celebrates the smaller-budget films, though it’s categorization of “independent” is somewhat arbitrary. The show sets itself up as the anti-Hollywood answer to the Academy Awards, but there is often some crossover. This year, both Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea were nominated for Best Picture for both the FIS and the Academy Awards.

Unique quality: The independent awards have categories for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay to honor debut efforts for directors and writers.

Nominee spotlight: Director and producer Anna Rose Holmer created a truly unique movie, The Fits, which has been nominated for Best First Feature. The movie follows 11-year-old tomboy Toni and her transition from boxing to a dance squad. A unique look at adolescence, The Fits is a subtle yet rewarding film. Some of its imagery has stuck with me since I watched it two weeks ago.

Awards: Academy Awards

Date: February 26, airing on ABC

About: You may have heard of this one. Now in its 89th year, the Academy Awards is the most watched award show by far, celebrating the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and possibly quality movies if there’s time.

Unique quality: The Oscars are hardly unique, as they aim to be a celebration of film’s successes, and set the standard for awards shows. The Academy Awards, however, compartmentalize like no other awards show. A movie can be absolutely terrible but receive a nomination because it does one thing well. Case in point: Suicide Squad was by far my least favorite movie of the year, but even I will admit that the hair and makeup were top-notch; the film nabbed a nomination for the Makeup and Hairstyling category.

Nominee spotlight: I’d like to go with O.J.: Made in America here, as the best documentary nominee ended up as my top film of 2016. But since I wrote about the movie last week for my top 10 list, I’m going to go all Academy Awards on everyone and choose style over substance. I never—ever—and I mean never—ever—thought I’d say this: Trolls deserves an Oscar. What? Trolls? I haven’t seen it, mainly because the animated movie looks shallow and forgettable. But Justin Timberlake’s original song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” sure is catchy—and it should win Best Original Song. After all, the Academy Awards could use some toe-tapping.


If you missed the 2016 top 10 film picks of Third Way reviewers on Third Way last week, find it here.


All reviews express the opinions of the reviewer, not necessarily the views of Third Way.