Nothing. The answer to the headline, if we are being blunt, is that Sunday night’s Hollywood Film Awards – which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – can’t really tell us anything about the Oscar race (and I’ll explain why in a second). But some who are building a campaign during these early stages can create a silver lining from this unusual awards show, and I’ll try and fill in why that’s the case.
The Hollywood Film Awards bill themselves as "The Official Launch of the Awards Season," and that’s sort of accurate. Several films, and their respective talents, that will find themselves in contention for an Oscar attended Sunday’s awards show (which wasn’t telecast, even though the ceremony aired on CBS the previous year). It’s a good opportunity to practice an acceptance speech, and it gives an awards hopeful a little bit of momentum that can be built on, with the right PR campaign.
But the Hollywood Film Awards have often been the butt of harsh jokes and stinging criticism, as the selection process behind the handing out of the annual awards remains a mystery to those outside of the Advisory Team that pre-selects the winners. And the HFAs don’t shy away from the controversy, this year – as they have in years past – choosing to honor films and performances that no one else has seen. Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, for example, took home the Hollywood Ensemble Award. Does that mean the movie is finished? Is it actually awards worthy? Same goes for Will Smith taking home the Hollywood Actor Award for Concussion. Did Sony show the finished movie to the Advisory Team? Does this "victory" mean that Smith’s a legit contender in the Best Actor race… or did he agree to attend the ceremony, thereby locking up his Hollywood Film Awards win?
History suggests it’s the latter. Even Tarantino had to crack a joke at his own expense when he accepted the Hollywood Screenplay Award for Django Unchained in 2012, even though the movie wasn’t finished. He said from the stage:
It's strange to get an award while I'm still in the editing room. [At least] I'll be able to say, 'Hey, you want to take a line out of my award-winning screenplay?'
That’s right. Because in Hollywood, every award win – even the dubious ones – buys you a little bit of power. With that in mind, here’s where I think the Oscar contenders sit on November 2:
The Dark Horses