I'm a member of the BFCA, the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Every year we vote on the Critics' Choice Awards which, contrary to some opinions out there, is a pretty big event. A couple of weeks ago we held our nominations for the upcoming awards, which were led by Mad Max: Fury Road's incredible total of 13, but one film was noticeably missing: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Obviously, we couldn't vote on it since nobody had seen it yet. But after press finally got a screening, BFCA President Joey Berlin put it to us to vote on whether it should be added to the Best Picture nominations. That was on Monday, and yesterday the decision came down that J.J. Abrams' film will be included.
For some reason this has caused a firestorm with some saying it devalues the entire awards. One member even quit the group because of the decision. Personally, I say good riddance. This shit ain't that damn serious, f'real. Berlin told ScreenDaily...
“There were many BFCA members at the premiere and on Monday and Tuesday we began to get bombarded with calls and emails to the office saying we had to do something, Star Wars is one of the best movies of the year and it would be silly for us not to consider it."
I don't know whether that's true or not. I certainly didn't ask him to do a damn thing, and I don't know anybody in the group who did. Berlin also adds that this wasn't done to boost ratings for the A&E broadcast next month, although he seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth here...
“That’s not the reason this was done but it certainly is something we were aware that if we did this, that could have a positive effect on the telecast."
Well, if you were aware then it had an impact on the decision, obviously. And look, there's nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. The Critics' Choice Awards is a production, first and foremost, and that includes putting the best show together that will draw viewers. To me it's no different than the Academy Awards expanding their Best Picture race to "up to" 10 nominees. You think that was done to honor more of the best movies? Think again. It was done so that more mainstream films could be added that would bring bigger guests and attract bigger ratings. Does anybody really care? Does it make you value the Oscars less? If so, then you probably don't care about awards shows anyway.
To be perfectly honest, I don't give a damn about them either. But I recognize when a mountain is being made out of a bantha hill. By the time the awards come around in a few weeks nobody will care. Certainly nobody will care after it's over, unless somehow it manages to win Best Picture (it won't). Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a special case in which the studios made it a point NOT to screen it for awards. It's also a one-of-a-kind movie, fan service though it may be. Disney made its stance on screenings clear. Maybe the BFCA could have waited a few days longer, but they didn't. Big deal. And really, what they decided to do was an internal matter. If the membership had voted not to let it be nominated it wouldn't be. If no other groups want to do the same, then don't.
If Joey Berlin had unilaterally decided to nominate it then there would be a BIG problem. But he didn't. Why anybody who isn't in the BFCA cares is beyond me. Something tells me awards shows, and the Critics' Choice Awards in particular, will survive this little episode just fine.