Oscarpussy! Eight reasons Bond deserves BAFTA recognition
|FEATURES - MOVIES|
From BAFTA with Love...
The Producers Guild of America has announced its nominations for best productions for 2013. Rather like the Golden Globes, these nominations serve as an indication of the films that may be in line for a win at the 2013 Academy Awards.
Of course Argo, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and Django Unchained are among the films announced by the PGA for this year. However, against all odds, and perhaps to the surprise of critics, fans and pretty much everybody, Skyfall has also been nominated – the first time ever for a 007 movie.
While the pompous Hollywood Academy could only come up with one Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Song (well done Adele!), Skyfall has racked up eight UK BAFTA nominations. It’s a clear indication that the film has earned more than just massive box office receipts. And there are quite a few good reasons why Skyfall should win all eight – if there’s any justice in the world.
Skyfall is the most successful Bond ever made
Indeed it is one of the most successful films of 2012, the total gross for USA being $299,363,000 while the foreign total is £733,500,000. Skyfall has given Argo, Django Unchained and The Hobbit a run for their money at the box office. It’s not surprising that Skyfall is a big hit, since all the Bond films have done very well. Even the least commercially successful, The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), grossed over $97 million worldwide, more than enough to keep Aon Productions happy and the series ongoing. Of course good publicity is always a good factor for a movie, but after fifty years, 007 only has his name to sell a film whereas other films have to rely increasingly on gimmicks.
Recognition for Bond after fifty years
It's very rare for any movie series to last as long as James Bond and still maintain its quality. Universal’s monster cycle of the thirties and forties lasted, on and off, for 15 years, while Hammer Horror and the Carry On series managed a good 20 year run before fizzling out. Fashions and public tastes have changed a great deal since Dr No (1962), so cinema as both a medium and a form of entertainment needs to adapt. Hammer were unable to deviate from their tried and tested formula, as were the Carry Ons, but Bond, even with the change of leading actor, has survived the Cold War, political correctness and occasional critical maulings to come out on top.
Bond will always remain Bond
He’s had various challenges over the years, from Derek Flint, Matt Helm and The Man from UNCLE to Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible's Ethan Hunt and even Johnny English! Even when a Bond film wasn’t quite so well received, or the various legal and financial problems with United Artists and MGM that prompted rumours that 007 had had his day, Bond has come out on top, rising above it all to save the world with his usual style and panache.
Skyfall is an excellent film
Fans have their favourites. Some are Connery fans, others prefer Roger Moore, so opinions will always be divided. (As far as the James Bond actors go, you can read mine here.) I for one do not think that Skyfall, brilliant though it is, is in the same class as From Russia With Love or Goldfinger. But whether you’re a fan of Daniel Craig or not, there is no denying that Skyfall has surpassed every fan’s expectations. It is still first-class entertainment but with an edge that takes 007 to a new level.
There is still life in the old formula
Any movie series that goes on for a long time will become tired, repetitive and even boring, so trying to keep things original and fresh while maintaining consistency is a constant battle for filmmakers. Changing writers and directors is an essential factor, but not always successful when the end result looks strained. Bringing in a director with as high a calibre as Sam Mendes could have proven counterproductive if he did not understand how Bond works. Fortunately for Aon, choosing Mendes was nothing short of inspired. He understands Bond, but also he pushed the character beyond his comfort zone by rearranging all those familiar elements into something new and exciting. Bond has left his comfort zone – and won!
As producers of popular films, Aon is up there with Hammer and the Carry On gang. They are films made strictly as a form of entertainment while never pushing the boundaries of high art. True 007 will never be played at an art-house cinema or fashionable film festival, or will indeed get a thumbs-up from most high-brow critics, but then that was never the intention. Even Hammer’s When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1967) got an Oscar nomination. BAFTA has clearly recognised the cinematic achievements of Skyfall and honoured the film with just more than nominations for technical credits.
Bond is not Bond without the star
No matter how brilliant the writing, direction and production is, the main focal point is the actor who plays Bond, and how good HE is! With Skyfall, Daniel Craig gives what has to be the performance of his career so far. Quite a considerable achievement considering fans and critics weren’t too impressed with Aon’s decision to cast him as 007 in Casino Royale. In his first two Bond films, Craig had to work hard to win everyone over. Once he accomplished that near-impossible task, a more relaxed and settled Craig was able to really get his grips into the character and take everything a stage further. On the strength of his brilliant performance, Craig is on the verge of super-stardom, something no other Bond actor has been able to do during or straight after their time in the role (it took years for Sean Connery to achieve it). Unfortunately the BAFTAs have omitted Craig from the Best Actor nomination (shame on them!), and Oscar success has also been given a wide berth. That said, Craig has now earned the kind of recognition and respectability that should lead on to better things. He may not get an award this year, but it’ll be just around the corner, along with something in the New Years Honours. Arise Sir Dan!
In truth Bond has survived everything – changes of actor, changes in public tastes, changes in fashion. You name it, Bond has been through them all with typical flair. The incredible success of Skyfall has meant that 007 is able to face fresh challenges as the medium marches through the 21st century. The question is, how can you improve on such a brilliant movie?
Until then, roll on another fifty years.
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.