Sunday, January 24, 2016

Con Job: 'The Big Short' stuns as PGA winner

Well fuck.

The only fraud bigger than the one Wall Street perpetrated against the American public prior to the 2008 housing crisis, is the one The Big Short -- which "smartly" depicts that shameful recent chapter of history -- is pulling over on Hollywood as we speak.
And yet there it stands, as our new Best Picture frontrunner by "virtue" of having won the Producers Guild of America's top prize late last night in Los Angeles. Anyone who claims to have seen this coming is being a revisionist historian. Under no circumstance did this film -- as abrasive, impenetrable and, at its worst, condescending a comedy as you'll likely see -- have the qualities of a consensus pick. It's victory here, and its now inevitable victory at the Oscars, will baffle me for years to come.

To be fair, the film is bold and loaded with creative risks, and normally, for such a daring project to sufficiently impress enough of the entertainment industry to land major awards should be cause for celebration. The fact that they've allowed themselves to be duped by creative risks that largely don't work, however, is enough to make this an awards season worth forgetting, as if there wasn't enough disappointment for that already. The Academy and I rarely agree 100% on the best picture of the year, but you'd have to go back to 1989 (Driving Miss Daisy) to find a winner that I thought was the worst option, and that was in the days of only five nominees.

The other two PGA movie prizes also went to upcoming Oscar winners Inside Out and Amy, worthy if unsurprising picks. But they hardly mask the unpleasant taste this new development of the season has left in my mouth. Does this mean Adam McKay can snipe the top prize from the DGA? Or, worse yet, the SAG Ensemble which has rightly been Spotlight's to lose from the beginning. Something tells me that this season can't end soon enough.

7 comments:

  1. I'm not sure why it's so hard to believe that someone carefully following this season's awards would be unable to pick The Big Short to win the PGA. I picked it for the reason that it's the only film that has hit every big guild so far: SAG, DGA, PGA, WGA, ACE, and also BAFTA nods. Spotlight missed the ACE, which might not seem to matter as much, but you've got to go back to Driving Miss Daisy to find a BP winner that didn't have an ACE nod. While it's more subjective, and while I don't think Big Short is close to being the best film of the year, side by side it strikes me as a much more Academy-friendly film than Spotlight (too low-key), The Revenant (too divisive), or Mad Max (too popular). We'd better prepare ourselves for Academy Award winner Adam McKay.

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    1. Well I'm blinded by bias, clearly, but even if I had liked the film I wouldn't have pegged it as something that could survive the preferential ballot.

      Btw, we already knew McKay was gonna be an Academy Award winner (Adapted Screenplay), but I have to cling to the hope that Best Director may still go to someone else.

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  2. Dude...it's just a film, and one that people actually love (including myself). If you're upset, then good for you for experiencing the other side of subjectivity. The PGA has as much of a right to vote on what they like as you do. Accept that and move on.

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    1. When did I ever imply the PGA has no right to vote on their favourites?

      If you were a completely new reader here, I could understand if you didn't realize that posting my opinions on my webspace is how I process and move on from all my feelings -- good and bad -- about the season.

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    2. I just find your saying "the only fraud bigger than the one Wall Street perpetrated against the American public prior to the 2008 housing crisis" about the film and its awards performance to be a bit harsh. It is just a film after all, and one that the industry happens to like the most as of right now. It's not like it broke society or caused the end of the world or anything of the sort.

      And it clearly survived the preferential ballot. There was never a two-horse race situation this year, but a four-horse one. It was just a matter of picking one of the four. The Big Short happened to be the one that hit all of the key guild nominations, so pundits should've been more in its support.

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    3. Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but I can't pretend that it makes much sense to me, even in retrospect. I had no trouble understanding why The Big Short has its fans, or that its guild success suggested admiration for its disparate parts, but it's the broadness of that approval that flummoxes me, and always will. How does a film this dodgy get that many people to agree on it? Statistically, sure, it makes sense (though I am trying to be less a slave to stats), but intuitively I can't wrap my mind around it.

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  3. Did not see this coming. It'll be so embarrassing if the Academy really do go with this. Can't wait to hear more of your personal picks.

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