The James Agee Cinema Cinema Circle Awards: The Anti-Oscars 2014

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In case you’re wondering why all those film critics groups and movie guild organizations out there seem to inevitably choose the same awards as one another every year from a small field of contestants, there’s an obvious – and odious – reason.

Hollywood strictly controls who and what gets nominated, simply by making available as awards screenings or screeners, only those films, filmmakers and actors they choose to deem among the winners – and ignoring any other requests. Not so with the James Agee Cinema Circle, defying those financially controlled, bought and paid for bogus awards, with our yearly JACC Anti-Oscars.

And with Oscar wins based – no less than US multi-million dollar election victories – on who can afford to buy elections with the biggest bucks, The James Agee Cinema Circle has announced their Anti-Oscars 2014, in recognition of artistic merit and humanistic values alone.

OscarFist
The Oscar Fist

In other words, unlike the Academy, which primarily focuses on entertainment or sensationalism while disregarding debasement targeting race, gender and class, the James Agee Cinema Circle bestows awards on all entries equally each year. And the big losers are relegated to their JACC Hall Of Shame and related Citations.

And with their championing of late iconic film critic Pauline Kael that “Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising,” the Critics Chapter of JACC is described as “an association of national and international critics, historians and film scholars who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media and analysis.”

“We have come together to form the first progressive critics organization, in the belief that idealistic perspectives, voices and diverse ideological visions in film criticism that speak with social conviction and consciousness, are sorely lacking as a public platform. We will be recognizing films embodying those humanistic ideals with our annual awards.”

There are so many reasons for liking or hating a movie. One big mental roadblock is being knocked out by the performances, dramatic style or cinematography, but evaluating the story as a stinker. And the typical entertainment journalist and those for sale to the commercial media corporations, will argue that if a movie is well made, it doesn’t matter if the content is reactionary, degrades, or dehumanizes, or even if it is disseminating untruths about real political and historical events.

But as JACC has so succinctly pointed out, why go to such lengths to lie, when you can just simply tell the truth. And that “why” will be one of our many probing hot topics on the table.

So in order to best cover all bases, progressive film critics tend to consider three categories of assessment, rather than two: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The first two are self-explanatory. And the third category is reserved for movies that may have been impressively put together, but there’s just something offensively anti-humanistic about them.

The ANTI-OSCARS 2014: THE JAMES AGEE CINEMA CIRCLE AWARDS

THE TRUMBO

The Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for “Spartacus” and “Exodus” in 1960.

KILL THE MESSENGER: One of the only biopics this year not twisting truths through either falsification or omission, this Michael Cuesta directed docudrama heralds the courageous, defiant, lonely and tragic struggle of journalist Gary Webb, who stood up to both the US government and corporate media in collusion. As he exposed the CIA scheme to flood the inner cities with cocaine back in the 1990s to covertly finance the illegal US-backed Contra war against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.

THE GARFIELD

The Award for BEST ACTOR is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “Force of Evil,” only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.

JEREMY RENNER: KILL THE MESSENGER

KAREN MORLEY AWARD

For BEST ACTRESS Named for Karen Morley, who was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but who maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

KRISTEN STEWART, CAMP X-RAY

THE RENOIR

The Award for BEST ANTI-WAR FILM is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece, “Grand Illusion.”

CAMP X-RAY

THE GILLO

The Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN FILM is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics “The Battle of Algiers” and “Burn!”

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

THE DZIGA

The Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE DOCUMENTARY is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the “Kino Pravda” (“Film Truth”) series and “The Man With the Movie Camera.”

THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY: THE STORY OF AARON SWARTZ

THE BOUND FOR GLORY AWARD

The Award for BEST ANTI-CAPITALIST FILM is named after the 1976 Hal Ashby directed biopic about Woody Guthrie, played by the late David Carradine.

FOXCATCHER

LA PASSIONARA AWARD

For the most positive female images in a movie, and in light of the historically demeaning portrayal of women in movies.

MARION COTILLARD: TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD

For the most positive and inspiring working class images in movies this year.

CESAR CHAVEZ

THE ROBESON AWARD

Named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson. The award is for the movie that best expresses the people of color experience, in light of their historically demeaning portrayals in films.

KILL THE MESSENGER

THE TOMAS GUTIERREZ ALEA AWARD

Named after the late legendary Cuban filmmaker. For best depicting mass popular uprising or revolutionary transformation in movies

SNOWPIERCER

THE LAWSON

The Award for BEST ANTI-FASCIST FILM this year, is named after screenwriter John Howard Lawson, one of the Hollywood Ten, who wrote Hollywood’s first feature about the Spanish Civil War, 1938’s “Blockade,” with Henry Fonda, and anti-Nazi movies such as 1943’s “Sahara,” starring Humphrey Bogart.

NO GOD, NO MASTER

THE MODERN TIMES

The Award for Best Progressive Film SATIRE is named after Charlie Chaplin, who made 1936’s “Modern Times” and 1940’s “The Great Dictator.”

MISS MEADOWS

THE ORSON

The Award for BEST OVERLOOKED OR THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED [seen at festivals, or on TV or DVD only] Progressive Film is named after actor/director Orson Welles. After he directed the masterpiece “Citizen Kane” Welles had difficulty getting most of his other movies made.

JIMMY’S HALL Directed by Ken Loach, Jimmy Hall dramatically recounts suppressed life and politically motivated persecution of Irish left activist Jimmy Gralton, the only person ever deported and driven into exile by Ireland. And yes, you probably never heard of him.

THE SERGEI

The Award for Best Progressive LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT PROGRESSIVE ACTIVIST is named after the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, who created Russian revolutionary classics such as 1925’s “Potemkin” and 1927’s “10 Days That Shook the World.”

HARRY BELAFONTE for a lifetime of principled activism. When Belafonte recently received an honorary Oscar, he said: “To be rewarded by my peers for my work in human rights and civil rights and for peace … it powerfully mutes the enemy’s thunder.”

BEST MOVIE LINES

“I make things up for a living. I’m a reporter.” – Danny Huston in BIG EYES.

“They came into this country with no visas, no passports, no invitations. And with syphilis and gonorrhea between their legs, they consumed us, they consumed our resources. They consumed our minerals, our land.” – MUGABE: VILLAIN OR HERO?

THE MASSES ARE MORONS. AKA POVERTY PORN

In other words, do actors really have to look so dumb and stumble over their words or behave primitively in the extreme, when impersonating proletarians in movies?

GOD’S POCKET

THE MILITARY HOLLYWOOD COMPLEX CITATION

Special citation inaugurating Hollywood’s new role engaging in corporate terrorism in collusion with the US government, by making a movie to hopefully bring down a foreign government.

THE INTERVIEW

Visit the James Agee Cinema Circle HERE

For more information, please contact The James Agee Cinema Circle at Miguel Gardel, [email protected] Guest submissions are welcome.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.