Rick Dixon writes from Cambridge: It’s that time of year again; broken resolutions, renewed gym memberships, annual TV retrospectives and endless TV/Movie awards shows. The first major backslapping, self-congratulatory show of onanistic celebration of the Motion Picture belongs to The Golden Globes, sneaking apologetically into the spotlight before it gets lost in the shadow of its bigger brother, The Academy Awards.
Every year it’s the same old story: the British press explodes in a bubbly froth of patriotism, declaring a ‘British Invasion’ as soon as the Golden Globe nominees are revealed and Brits account for at least two of them. All pretensions of objective journalism are thrown out of the window like a cowboy in a Hollywood bar fight and a deluded optimism disguised as national pride rides into town: Look out Hollywood – the British are coming!!!
This year was no different. Run the phrase ‘Golden Globes+British Invasion’ through your favourite browser and hold onto your hat – you’re liable to have it blown off in a blast of hot air and unfounded enthusiasm. But for all the triumphant ‘invasion’ hyperbole, what did we – the invading Brits – actually win? You go and look for your hat and I’ll put a list together of the valiant ‘British Soldiers’, spearheading the ‘invasion’ and the battles they won:
Best Actor, Drama – Daniel Day-Lewis for ‘Lincoln’. An Anglo-Irish actor in an American-made film about an American president.
Best Picture, Musical or Comedy – ‘Les Misérables’. A British-produced film adaptation of a musical adaptation of a French novel, starring mostly American and Australian actors in major roles, with a British director.
Best Animated Feature – ‘Brave’. I’m being really generous here; a US originated and produced animated film set in an idealised vision of Scotland, featuring the vocal talents of several Scottish actors.
Best Original Song – Skyfall by Adele, from ‘Skyfall’. A big soulful ballad by a big soulful woman with a big soulful voice – just what American music and cinema have been missing…
So there you have it. Jingoistic pride aside, we have in essence two decisive and definite direct hits – Best Picture and Best Original Song; hardly constitutes a full scale invasion does it?
If we’re being honest though, what weapons do we actually have at our disposal to successfully invade Hollywood? The British Film industry certainly isn’t at full fighting strength – if it ever was. Have you ever heard of American actors desperate to ‘break big’ in Britain? We have some amazingly talented actors native to this country but the vast majority seem to do their best work in – or gain recognition from – films made over the pond. Any British actor who suggests they don’t care about success and recognition in Hollywood and looks as if they mean it, is a very good actor indeed.
All we seem to offer our American cousins is a mind-numbing cycle of highbrow ‘worthy’ films like Gandhi and The King’s Speech; ‘stiff British upper lip’ period costume dramas in a Pride and Prejudice vein; and tiresome ‘comedies’ about amusing misunderstandings, plucky but quirky old people, or downtrodden underdogs with a dream and a chance – Best Exotic Marigold, The Full Monty, Bend it Like Beckham, and so on.
But wait – what about our secret weapon? For 50 years we’ve been able to rely on the man who personifies ‘British’, ‘secret’ and ‘service’ to hit every target he aims at overseas. A man licensed to thrill: Bond, James Bond. Surely if one man were to lead the British Invasion to success it would be Bond? Skyfall is the most successful and highly critically acclaimed Bond film to date. Internet forums and blogs have been buzzing with talk of the Oscar-worthiness of Skyfall - given that the Golden Globes are universally considered an indication of Oscar success, what hope of storming the walls of Hollywood did our champion bring us? That would be ‘Best Original Song’… You lose, Mr Bond.
So the first report from the front line of the British Invasion of Hollywood (2013) is in, and the enemy is underwhelmed and relatively unaware. Hopefully by next year we’ll have developed better weapons and tactics and we might actually pull off a successful British Invasion, giving the press cause to celebrate for real, instead of the usual orchestrated and patriotic over-reaction designed to fill column inches. Speaking of inches, I suppose I’d better renew that gym membership…