Sodas , Cyanide and Award Winners

So I heard this movie got a standing ovation at a festival last year, and also won a few acting gongs; I came across it recently and decided to check it out…2hrs into the movie the plot had barely kicked in, it had numerous un-necessary characters, and the title character had appeared for less than five minutes , this basically describes all that was wrong with it


“Drama that uses coincidence, rolls out a character for plot requirements or tosses in a plot changing detail for convenience looks shoody & contrived”- Michael Rabiger

I should have known better, since a previous film i had seen by the same Director had very similar traits, which even the star studded cast couldn’t save. Conclusion? Lets just say if i ever make the attempt to watch any film by this dude again, I will first have to find a KGB doctor to install a cyanide tooth I can dislodge at anytime while watching.

It then got me thinking. What is our standard in Naija or Nollywood? How do we determine what film is worthy of a an Award or even worthy of getting Nominated? What is the screening process? What is the benchmark for qualification?

Is it based on who submits their film?(or lack of better submissions) The popularity of the stars? It’s box office results? Or is it based on achievement in film-Making which is above and beyond the hundreds of other films made in that same period?

When films that are very formulaic and follow EVERY cliche of its genre, get nominations and go ahead to win, what does that say about the award body? That’s like a Mills&Boons book being shortlisted for a Booker or Pulitzer Prize.

What does that say about our perception of what is great or good, or worthy of accolades? What does that say about our capability or potential as film-Makers, when colleagues from all over the globe view the quality of what we award as BEST? Would they want to collaborate, co produce, recommend? How do it look to investors from around the world whenthe kind of films we award, are the type that they dont take seriously from their own people?

Look at it this way, Hollywood is the biggest and most visible industry in the world. It makes a lot of great films and also makes a HUGE share of crappy, average,nice but unremarkable movies, every year. Those movies don’t pretend to be anything other than they are, and they certainly aren’t praised, lauded or awarded.

The only awards they get are the Razzies,very low rating on Rotten Tomatoes(and mockery on YouTube); and though we know some Oscar wins are political, a result of award bait lobbying,pretentious arts. There is a certain level of quality to which you can’t deny in Screenplay,Cinematography,Acting and overall impact they reached in comparison to other releases.

What would you think if films like GI Joe:Rise of Cobra , Mummy 3 , Baggage Claim, This is the End or Twilight ; started getting Academy Award nominations due to popularity or whatnot?

Last year I treated myself on my birthday to the movie “2 Guns”, absolutely LOVED IT, Denzel and Wahlberg cracked me up, and i had a good time watching, but it’s not even in the same stratosphere as films that get nominated like “There will be Blood”, The Lives of others”,”No Country for Old Men”, or Denzel’s previous films like The Hurricane,Glory or Malcom X ..frankly id think the committee were on crack if a generic movie is even considered for nomination.

That takes nothing away from the film, it is what it is, just not remarkable to that effect, cinematic-ally, tonally or in any manner. It’s not that much different from other buddy cop movies out there, a black dude and a white dude paired together; Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, and others.

Would the Oscars still have the same prestige if they started nominating films like Maid in Manhattan, or Why Did I Get Married or Ride Along?; as fun they may be to watch? NEVER, they begin to lose credibility when the benchmark is set so low.

While the enjoyment of creative works like movies , songs etc is subjective there has to be a certain benchmark set and we can’t allow sentiments or “na our brother”, “he’s one of us”, to be our rating system.

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One comment on “Sodas , Cyanide and Award Winners

  1. Thoughts that have always rummaged through my head……

    What is the ‘BASIS’?!

    Our credibility continues to be in question when we do not set a standard.

    I love award shows! I LOVE to watch award winning movies! I LIVE for award winning movies! When I’m tired of being ‘just entertained’ I go for my award winning movies that expand my appreciation of Film.

    Unfortunately, this has not been my experience with a lot of the ‘award-winning’ movies from our end.

    Is it a lack of a transparent structure? Is it a lack of quality contenders? Or are we just playing the politics of award shows?

    All these are questions that I’ve contemplated…

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