The 2015 Hollywood Film Awards recently honored such films and performers as “The Danish Girl” and “Concussion” actor Will Smith.
The prizes are viewed by some in the industry as the beginning of the end-of-the-year awards season. Because the Hollywood Film Awards are held before some of the biggest awards season contenders are released, they sometimes honor movies before the films themselves hit theaters.
This year, Smith received the Hollywood Actor Award for his film “Concussion,” while the Hollywood Actress Award went to Carey Mulligan for her work in the recent film “Suffragette.” The Hollywood Supporting Actor prize went to “Sicario” actor Benicio Del Toro, while the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award went to Jane Fonda for the film “Youth.” Joel Edgerton won the Hollywood Breakout Actor Award for his role in "Black Mass," while "Danish" actress Alicia Vikander won the Hollywood Breakout Actress prize.
The Hollywood Director honor was given to Tom Hooper for his movie “The Danish Girl.”
What bearing, if any, will these have on the Oscars, which are often viewed as the most prestigious film prizes? Last year, the winners did give some indication of what was to come when the Oscars arrived. Actress Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in the film “Still Alice” and she picked up the Hollywood Actress prize as well. Eddie Redmayne, who won the Oscar for Best Actor, won the Hollywood Breakout Performance award for an actor, showing early support for his work in the movie “The Theory of Everything.”
Meanwhile, in 2013, the same actors who took the Hollywood Actor and Hollywood Actress prizes, “Dallas Buyers Club” actor Matthew McConaughey ended up winning the Oscar in his category and Jared Leto, who won the award for a breakthrough performance by an actor, took the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The "breakthrough" awards can be indicators of winners as much as the main Hollywood Award categories are.
However, as one might assume, it’s still early in the awards season. With Redmayne’s honor, for example, his prize for a “breakout” performance showed his work was gaining traction, but the Hollywood Actor award went to Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Imitation Game,” a film that had some support early on in the Oscar season (actress Keira Knightley won the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award for her work in the movie last year), but was less noticed later in the year compared to movies such as “Boyhood” and “Birdman,” which were widely viewed as the two top contenders for the Best Picture prize. Much can change between early November and late February or early March, which is when the Oscars usually air.
This year, the prizes went mainly to actors whose films have already been released, showing that these movies are uppermost in the minds of the committee which gave out the awards. Movies like “Sicario” and “Suffragette” were released this fall, so they could be forgotten by the end of the year. That’s the reason there can be such a pile-up of awards season hopefuls on, for example, Christmas Day – those in Hollywood presumably believe voters will remember most the movie they just saw. Last year, awards season hopefuls "Unbroken," "Big Eyes," "Into the Woods," "American Sniper," and "Selma" all came out on Dec. 25.
However, Smith being honored for “Concussion,” which won’t hit theaters until late December, is interesting. His performance is already being talked about enough that those behind the Hollywood Film Awards went with him.
Meanwhile, outside of those who follow every step of awards season, how much is the public paying attention to the movies that win the Oscar Best Picture prize?
It has been some time since a true box office blockbuster won the award – the last could be said to be the 2003 movie “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
Since then, however, some of the lowest-grossing Best Picture winners of all time have been within the last several years.“The Hurt Locker,” in 2009, is still the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time, with last year’s winner, “Birdman,” close behind. “The Artist” in 2011, is also one of the lowest-grossing winners, as is 2013’s “12 Years a Slave.”
A couple of hits have been selected as the best film of the year by the Academy, however. 2012’s “Argo” was a big hit, as was 2010’s “The King’s Speech.”