With the Golden Globes on Sunday, and Oscar nominations just around the corner, there’s likely to be a lot of talk (around my condo) about movies and awards. Just to prepare you.
Let’s kick it off with a proposal. I don’t know what it would take for the Oscars to add a new category (The last addition was Jessica's favorite, Best Animated Film, in 2001; Before that, nothing had been added since 1981 – Best Makeup.), but I think they could benefit from following the SAG Awards example and offering an Academy Award for Best Ensemble. Movies are about the complete experience, and, more often than not, that requires a full cast of powerful performers, not just one. Sorry, Will Smith. A Best Ensemble award would serve to acknowledge the bit parts that contribute to a movie’s success.
Think about it: Isn’t ‘Almost Famous’ as good as it is because of everyone from Patrick Fugit and Billy Crudup to Fairuza Balk (“is this Mary Ann with the pot?”)? Doesn’t the complete cast of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ elevate the movie from a typical story to a heartwarming one? Tom Hanks gets all the credit for ‘Forrest Gump’, but where would he have been without great performances from Robin Wright Penn, Sally Field, Gary Sinise and the guy who played Bubba? (And it doesn’t have to be a big cast to qualify as an ensemble – Isn’t ‘Before Sunset’ so good because Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke play off one another perfectly?)
It would also help in situations where multiple actors from the same film are nominated, and risk splitting the vote – If I already voted for Brad Pitt, maybe I shouldn’t vote for Cate Blanchett too. Or more likely, I will vote for both of them, but then ignore the supporting actors and actresses who did just as good of work, just with fewer lines. Instead of pitting actors and actresses against their fellow cast members, you get to acknowledge the combined power of all. (Okay, now I just sound like a socialist.).
I would nominate 'The Visitor' and 'Milk' for this year's Best Ensemble - decent movies completely elevated to near greatness by the chemistry between its actors. Apparently, the board meets every year to discuss potential new categories, so it could happen. I mean, actual new awards that have been proposed include Best Title Design and Best Stunt Coordinator. Come on.