January and the New Year are just behind us, and February has already arrived. The Golden Globes have been and gone (how great were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!?!) and the BAFTAs and the Oscars are fast approaching on the horizon. Awards season is well and truly in full swing now, exciting times indeed.
In terms of university, exams and essay deadlines are behind us (for now) and a new term awaits which for some of us is our last few months in formal education.
More importantly, in terms of film this is probably the best time of the year. The cinemas are stuffed with great films, most in contention for illustrious awards at the aforementioned ceremonies. There is never another time of the year where the audience is so spoilt with choice, maybe apart from occasional summer blockbuster season. This year, we are lucky enough to have some real doozies: Gravity, American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave to name just a few of my favourites from those that I have managed to see. There really is a very strong line-up this year, it may sound clichéd but this awards season feels like it is hosting some of the best films in recent times; the sheer emboldened mastery of Gravity, the 70s hair and intoxicating entertainment of American Hustle to the sobering ordeal of Solomon Northup in McQueen’s masterpiece, 12 Years a Slave. Importantly, all are memorable and in an age where many films are forgotten after the credits roll this is a somewhat valuable commodity.
There are of course a few disappointments and films that are snubbed for the big awards, many perhaps unjustly. Scorsese’s 3-hour chronicle of Jordan Belfort was epic in runtime but little else, despite some brilliant performances. Will DiCaprio finally win an Oscar this year seems to be the question on everybody’s mind, but equally noticeable is the lack of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson from the list of Oscar nominees.
The run-up to the big ceremonies is also a great time to catch up on previous winners and create for yourself an Oscar or BAFTA ‘crash-course’. Catch up on 21st century winners such as Argo, The Hurt Locker, Chicago and Brokeback Mountain or go back to older gems such as Patton, Kramer vs. Kramer and Cabaret and marvel at sterling performances that were recognised.
If you’re short on money or time and don’t go to the cinema often, I’d say go now, go now; the awards circus will be over within a month so catch some of the year’s best films whilst they’re all in town – you may just discover something truly special.