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The holiday movie season is the time when all the major awards contenders come out of the woodwork. Studios want their best work to be fresh in critics’ minds, so they wait until the last couple months of the year. However, to be considered for the early awards in December, your film must be submitted to each group for consideration. You can officially scratch The Force Awakens off the list of likely winners, however. In order to be up for the awards, Disney would have to send copies of the film out to the people voting, and that means dozens of potential leaks about plot details, not to mention the increased likelihood that pirates will get the film online prior to release.
The first award of the season is The National Board of Review’s top ten list on December 1st. Star Wars won’t be on that list, or any of the others that require it to be submitted for consideration prior to the film’s own December 18 release. Both the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics awards as well as the Screen Actors Guild awards are also slated for the first few days of December.
In order to be considered for any of these, the movie would have to submit a screener to the individuals responsible for picking winners. Screeners are essentially just special DVD copies of the film, and in recent years, they have become the primary source for pirates to get early, high-quality versions of movies on to all your major file sharing sites. This is the last thing that Disney, Lucasfilm, or king of the mystery box J.J. Abrams wants to have happen, and the best way to prevent it is to simply not bother with the awards.
This likely wasn’t a particularly hard decision. According to The Wrap, it’s highly unlikely that The Force Awakens would have won any of the awards anyway. Many of these major critics groups’ awards favor lesser known films that your average movie fan has never ever heard of. This is why the awards are important for many films, as they get attention the film would not have otherwise received. Attention is not a thing that Star Wars requires. They know they’re going to fill the theaters. It’s not a question. A great early review or an award isn’t going to help. Nobody is on the fence on this one. You’re already planning to see it, or you aren't. A bad review won’t keep anybody away and a good one probably won’t convince anybody who's planning to avoid it.
All in all, this is probably a good thing. Secrets will be kept, which most fans want, even if they can’t help themselves but check out every new image released. It also helps ensure that some of those smaller films won’t be overshadowed on the off chance that the newest Star Wars film actually did start to win awards. It should be a win all around.