As we reach the final stretch of Awards’ Season, it’s interesting to examine whose reputation has lasted the battering of the race…surprisingly its often those in first place that suffer the most.
After gaining traction early on with critical acclaim, followed by audience love, followed by awards nominations, films often start to pick up increasing amounts of backlash. When a film becomes universally loved and critically adored, it seems that that’s just too much positivity for one picture, so some people must turn on it.
It’s been seen in the past, with juggernauts like Titanic, which arguably became the planet’s favourite film (it was the film where people were shocked if you hadn’t seen it…even over a decade after its release, you’d still likely get this reaction). Once it garnered a record-tying Oscar score and became (at the time) the highest-grossing film ever…it soon began to be seen as overrated, and became almost fashionable to be above it and see it as undeserving.
Unfortunately, it appears that this year’s Oscar-nomination-record-tying picture, and locked-in frontrunner in many big categories, La La Land, is starting to receive the same fate (although not quite on Titanic‘s scale). The huge critical acclaim, awards-love and word-of-mouth from an inordinate amount of instant megafans, has left a bitter taste in some film-goers mouths, who feel obligated to proclaim it as overrated, shallow rubbish.
It appears that once you reach juggernaut status, you cannot be deserving of such a high title…so people turn on you.
It oddly seems to work in the opposite way as well. After films are overlooked or snubbed by awards, the outcry of the passionate fans sometimes rings louder than a nomination would. It can spread and, as a result, a film can become much more loved, even as an act of defiance. Whether they missed out on a deserved nomination or didn’t claim their rightful prize (I’m looking at you, 2006 Oscar Best Picture). It can even rally support and a bigger fanbase around individuals. Think Jake Gyllenhaal’s many snubs, but most notably Nightcrawler, or even the ‘DiCaprio Curse’ which now, unfortunately, seems to have shifted to Amy Adams. Or even players like Roger Deakins, one of the finest cinematographers working today, but who holds the title of most nominated living cinematographer, yet has never got his hands on the golden statuette itself.
As a result of these snubs, it can cause people to deride the films that they believe ‘stole’ their nominations, again adding to the idea that more nominations can cause greater backlash.
Backlash often comes from audiences, and rarely affects the awards the film itself receives. It also often barely tarnishes a film’s reputation, though, at the other end of the scale, backlash against one film can elevate another.
We’ll have to wait and see the reaction to the juggernaut that is La La Land (which in my opinion is entirely deserving) come Oscar night.