Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend round-up: part 1 - The Spirit Awards

So this weekend was so busy and jampacked that I have to separate my thoughts and feelings in order to make more focused blog posts. The long Oscars telecast is freshest in my mind at the moment but I have a bone to pick about the Independent Spirit Awards.

It's ridiculous to me that "Silver Linings Playbook" won best picture at the Spirit Awards. It used to be that there was a limit to the budget that you could have in order to even be nominated for a Spirit Award. SLP was made for $21 million. Last year, The Descendants was made for what was estimated to be $20 million. The whole point in the Spirit Awards was to honor "the little guy." The films made for a minimal amount that succeeded despite its limited budget. If we're gonna keep expanding the budget limit, why not include all independently produced films? Like Cloud Atlas or The Master? Because at a certain point, we're just rewarding Hollywood films masquerading as indies, which is what Silver Linings Playbook and The Descendants are. They're not bad films by any means, but they had strong representation at the Oscars with major studio backing. The Weinstein Company may not be a part of the "studio system" but there's no denying that they're a major studio. Let's get real.

Indie Spirit Awards should be anti-establishment in its nature. It should be rewarding films that best represent... the spirit... of an indie film. Beasts of the Southern Wild was a true surprise in that regard because here was a film that was made with very little money and resources and yet it wound up being so amazing. That's part of what made it so special. Yes, it wound up getting recognized at the Academy Awards too, but there's nothing conventional about its placement in there. Benh Zeitlin and his cast and crew are complete nobodies. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Deniro? Major Hollywood stars. Harvey Weinstein? A major Hollywood producer. David O. Russell? A major Hollywood filmmaker. David O. Russell used to be an indie filmmaker but let's face it, he's not anymore. I think it's great that he's making bigger movies because he's a great filmmaker, but he no longer personifies the "indie spirit." He's proof that someone who starts out in indie film can become a major player in the film industry, but that indie spirit he may have had once is no longer there. And he doesn't need it.

 I like the Independent Spirit Awards, I like the idea of it. As a voting member, I take this more seriously than I have in years past. But after seeing The Artist win last year and SLP win this year, it makes me wonder if there's even a reason to vote in the first place. If we're just going to vote for the eventual Oscar favorites, then what are we doing this for? Who does this benefit? C'mon, Film Independent. Something's got to give.

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