On Monday night, Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock and Jake Gyllenhaal and a bunch of other awards hopefuls will get dressed up, walk a red carpet into a ballroom and give each other awards. Cameras will flash, video will roll, interviews will be done, and campaigning will take place at an event that, like half a dozen other events between August and November, likes to think of itself as the launch of awards season.
This one is called the Hollywood Film Awards, a generic title for an awards show with an uncertain provenance and a curious future.
At the Hollywood Film Awards, the stars show up because the media and the industry pay attention, and the media and the industry pay attention because the stars show up. And everybody tacitly agrees not to worry too much or think too hard.
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To be fair, this is hardly the only event during awards season where the selection process involves more negotiating than actual voting. And you could argue that they’re relatively harmless, and thoroughly typical of a town where exposure is the coin of the realm and publicity always trumps credibility.
But with People.com live-streaming the red carpet for the first time, and particularly with Dick Clark Productions buying a stake and no doubt thinking of a television future, things get more problematic – and the possibility looms for a nationally-televised show that could make the Golden Globes look like a bastion of credibility.
Still, there’s no need to worry about that if you’re McConaughey and Bullock, who will be proclaimed Hollywood actor and actress of the year at the Beverly Hilton on Monday night. Or Roberts, who gets to emphasize her move from the Best Actress category at the Oscars (where by all reports the Weinstein Company was originally going to push her for “August: Osage County”) to Best Supporting Actress by receiving something called the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award.
Availability is the key throughout awards season: If you’re a big star and you’re willing and able to pick up an award – particularly if you can also deliver another big star to give it to you – then you’ll find somebody ready to give you that award.
This week, that somebody is Carlos de Abreu (right), the founder and executive producer of the Hollywood Film Awards and the guy who talks to studios and decides (with the help of a non-specified “advisory team”) who gets the awards.
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It can make for a low-pressure, entertaining night filled with as many potshots at the host as a Ricky Gervais-hosted Golden Globes show. Last year, presenter Diablo Cody called the event a charade, while Seth Rogen asked, “Who voted for these things? I’m told someone named Carlos. I’m going with Carlos the Jackal.”
And honoree Quentin Tarantino was bemused to get an award for “Django Unchained,” a film that nobody had actually seen since he wasn’t finished making it.
“It’s kind of strange to get an award while you’re still in the editing room for a movie,” said Tarantino. “Now when my editor wants to cut down a long section of dialogue I can say, ‘You want to take a line out of my award-winning screenplay?'”
(Then again, a few months later Tarantino won the screenwriting Oscar for “Django,” this time from a bunch of people who actually had seen the movie.)
This year’s show has been essentially ignored by every Hollywood trade publication except the Hollywood Reporter, which has an ownership tie to Dick Clark Productions and which has run a steady stream of “exclusives.”
But the event will get its live-streamed carpet, and it’ll get press because honorees include actors McConaughey, Bullock, Roberts, Gyllenhaal, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Michael B. Jordan, Sophie Nelisse, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o; directors Steve McQueen, Lee Daniels and Richard Linklater; actor-screenwriters Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke; producer Jerry Weintraub; the band Coldplay (whose Chris Martin will perform a song from the next “Hunger Games” movie); and the films “American Hustle” (costumes and production design), “Monsters University” (animated film of the year) and “Pacific Rim” (visual effects).
(I’m guessing that even the director of “Pacific Rim,” Guillermo del Toro, knows that his friend Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is going to win every other visual effects award.)
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It may not be the real kickoff of awards season, but it could be the official launch of silly season.