As awards season comes to a close, Edward Lauder speaks to London-based film critic and IGN UK’s movie editor Chris Tilly about whether film critics and the awards they hand out are still relevant in the internet age. Sub-editor: Nader Kaddor
With an ever increasing number of online torrenting sites and paid streaming services, do awards really matter? Do people care which movies are the critics’ favourites or which actor performed the best this year?
“I think you only have to look at the spike in the box office takings of the films that got lots of Oscar nominations to know that they still mean something in business terms. Many small films with modest budgets, award nominations can give them a real global lift,” says IGN UK’s Chris Tilly.
“Take 12 Years a Slave and Gravity last year for example, which stayed in cinemas a long time due to the vast number of nominations it received during awards season.”
However, Tilly did have a few issues with this year’s nominations: “I thought the nominations were sound, though I agree with most that Selma should have received more love, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler.”
Some may call Tilly an industry veteran: “I’ve been in the industry for 12 years. I started at a magazine where we didn’t have a website. I started off working for Hot Dog magazine, then moved to Time Out and started working for IGN about seven years ago.”
Being a film critic today is very different to what it was like when Tilly started out. People use the internet a lot more to get reviews of the latest movies. “Now I find myself presenting on camera. I didn’t train as a presenter. It’s all about having an opinion and forgetting about the cameras. It’s harder than I thought it would be,” he says.
There’s no doubt that film criticism has changed in recent years, and not always for the better. “Now there’s lots of snark. Too many people I read today are angry. There’s not much point to it.”
He takes inspiration from the legends of film criticism, “I always liked reading Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. Roger Ebert had a great sense of humour. They love movies and it came across in their writing. I prefer it when I can tell that the reviewer loves cinema.”
Whatever happens this awards season it will be interesting to see how the movie going public will respond. Will people go in their droves to see the Best Film Oscar winner? Maybe, maybe not. One thing’s for sure, the way in which we watch films is changing, therefore it may be sensible to change the way we reward them.