Monday, December 26, 2011

Cinematic Complaint

In November of every year the National Board of Review Awards are handed out. It is the beginning of a major slew of awards that are handed out until Academy Awards. In between we learn who has won awards from every major critics association in the United States and Canada. Did you know there is a difference between the New York Film Critics Online and the New York Film Critics' Circle? Even Toronto has its own film critics association. After the first of January we start learning which films have won awards from certain guilds, like the SAG (Screen Actors Guild), DGA (Directors Guild of America) and the PGA (Producers Guild of America). And let's not forget the American Society of Cinematographers.

But this is not even my chief complaint today. It is the fact that every major critic and cinephile publishes a (Ten) Best Films of ______ list every December. I always await Roger Ebert's list (found here). It was in reading Ebert's list that I became aggravated. His favourite film of 2011 is A Separation, and in his article he states in the first sentence that the Iranian film will not open in Chicago until January 27. How is the common moviegoer supposed to react to top ten lists when he or she will not have the opportunity to see certain films until January of February? We at CineCritical are lucky and live in Toronto, where many films open in limited release before they are released (if ever) in other cities.

According to (a major website for showtimes), Tyrannosaur opens on January 6 (but it opened in the UK in October). The Iron Lady opens on January 13 when it was first slated for release December 16. Even Canadian director David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method will not open until January 13. The absolute worst slap in the face? Two of the most high profile performances from actresses currently in contention for Oscar have films that will not open until February: Tilda Swinton's We Need to Talk About Kevin (February 3) and Glenn Close's Albert Nobbs (February 10).

I understand that December is a full month for film releases, but it is unfair for the common moviegoer to understand that a film that opens on February 10 is still somehow eligible to earn an Oscar for a films released in 2010.

I think it is about time for the Academy's policy on films opening in Los Angeles prior to December 31 to be reworked. Are Los Angeles' audiences more important than anywhere else just because they have more Oscar voters? I thought they were able to attend free screenings anyway.

If a critic puts a film released in February 2011 on his list of Best Films in 2010, should I not have the same opportunity to see the film in the proper calendar year?

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