Hollywood Awards Season Opens For Business
Drive along Sunset Boulevard at the moment and a giant Cate Blanchett looms over you.
Her blue eyes implore you - along with the words on the enormous billboard - to honour her film Blue Jasmine as Best Picture.
Of course, she's not imploring the likes of you or me, but the people who decide which movies and casts will walk away with some bling this awards season.
Yes, we find ourselves in that time of the year when "for your consideration" becomes the mantra of Hollywood.
It is an odd phrase - a sort of written-down version of that expression worn by waiters touting canap?on a tray. It is coy, a little bit disingenuous and ever so slightly creepy.
It is also hard to miss - slipping silently into the newspaper ads, for page after page, until you feel as if you've been schmoozed senseless.
And, of course, the morsels they're tempting us with are no soggy vol-au-vent.
We are talking about multimillion-dollar movies, the result of cold, hard business decisions over what will make people cough up hard-earned cash at the box office.
The people who make and star in them are rich, famous and adored wherever they go. They also have jobs and lifestyles that most would dream of having.
In the case of Blue Jasmine, director Woody Allen and stars like Blanchett, Alex Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale are doing okay, you'd imagine.
So why do they need the added little tummy-rub of an award?
The truth is that awards are good for business. Being in the running creates a buzz about a movie and puts more bums on seats. Winning brings prestige and adds a few zeros to the earning power.
Time magazine quoted research by BoxOfficeQuant that a typical Best Picture winner gains an additional $14m (£9m) in box office returns compared with those simply nominated.
For individual awards like Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress, the financial bump is harder to calculate, but it certainly does no harm to a career. They WILL earn more for their next movie, but if that one bombs, the bubble bursts.
And there you have the reason for the annual pleading. It is called show-BUSINESS after all.
There are about 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscar judges. There are fewer than a hundred picking the Golden Globe winners. They're the ones those billboards are for.
They obviously feel that this "for your consideration" business is a graceful way of asking.
Because printing "VOTE FOR US" in 30ft lettering would be just a bit gauche, wouldn't it?
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