Representation of Talent Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1512 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Film

Representation of Talent

Looking at the recipients for the major film and television awards for 2006 reveals distinct trends. In fact, history has clarified many of the trends that help determine which actors and which films win awards. Nominated movies are almost always big budget, large scale productions, although occasionally they may be quirky like this year's Little Miss Sunshine. Critics and motion picture academies tend to like films about overcoming obstacles: including war, racism, and physical or mental disabilities. Audiences and critics alike are fascinated with unique and exceptional individuals, whether disabled or celebrity. Roles like Queen Elizabeth, when well executed, are bound to receive nominations. Films with mild, discreetly stated political messages may be welcome but in general the films that win awards do not preach. War and the horrors of war will always be a top movie theme but award-winners tend to be outstanding descriptions of the horrors of war, depicting main characters as three-dimensional rather than as good guys and bad guys. Three-dimensional characters may be one of the hallmarks of award-winning roles including this year's Queen and Idi Amin: played by Helen Mirren and Forrest Whitaker, respectively. Their performances earned Mirren and Whitaker universal accolades, including the Golden Globe, Oscar, SAG Awards, and the Critics' Choice Awards.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Television displays similar trends but on the small screen, comedies fare better. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences excludes comedy categories altogether. Comedies that earn Oscar nominations or Oscar awards tend to be on the dark side, such as this year's Little Miss Sunshine. American Beauty is another example of a dark comedy winning over the hearts of viewers and critics alike. The American affection for dark comedy extends to television: shows like the Sopranos, the Office, Desperate Housewives, and Six Feet Under all have decidedly dark undercurrents to various degrees. Honoring so many dark comedies at box offices and awards shows signifies that cynicism is alive and well in America. However, viewers and critics also prefer comedies that cut to the chase: unabashedly portraying human faults and foibles. Like good dramas, comedies are multidimensional. Life itself is like a dark comedy, and viewers often find solace in being able to laugh at pain and suffering.

Film awards may serve as cultural barometers and as reflections of current consciousness and cultural ideals. Helen Mirren's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth humanizes one of the most emotionally distant public leaders. Audiences want to see their heroes and nemeses humanized. Superhero movies are fun but their impact on human consciousness is minimal. We want to watch strong characters grapple with tough decisions and survive against the odds. Films depicting legal battles against major corporations denote the victory of the little man: a favorite American theme. We want to see intense suffering turned into personal triumph, which is integral to the mythos of our culture.

Mafia is also an integral part of the American mythos. Since the advent of the motion picture, audiences have been enamored with crime dramas. Scorsese's the Departed earned accolades this year for its depiction of organized crime in Boston. Cops on the take make for especially extraordinary and compelling characters because their values are more conflicted than our own; their loyalties more mixed and confusing. Period pieces, especially those that pay excruciating attention to detail, also make their marks. Elaborate costumes win awards in their own right and films like Dreamgirls attract attention because the introduce dance and music into the cinematic experience without sacrificing plot. Fantasies, animations, and other visually-stunning productions often win awards for cinematography or art direction but rarely for best picture so it appears that critics and viewers find real life more gritty and memorable.

2. During the 2007 Oscars, Will Ferrell and Jack Black sang a duet lamenting the lack of nominations for comics in explicitly comedic roles. Ferrell and Black croon that comedians who want to win Oscars need only ask their agents to play a man with no arms and legs who sues a major corporation to get some recognition. Although sung for laughs, the tune truthfully assesses the types of roles and films that earn critics' respect. Characters with mental and physical disabilities win over the hearts of critics: Rain Man, Forrest Gump, and a Beautiful Mind are a few recent examples of how disabilities can be transformed into box office and critical success. Clients seeking accolades would do well to take on the challenge of playing a person with disabilities. Critics usually know that such roles pose extreme difficulties for actors, proving their versatility and merits as on-screen performers. Actors who can "stretch" to play their parts usually get recognized. Talent managers need to examine the actor's range and versatility to determine whether such demanding roles would be appropriate for their clients.

Disabilities aren't the only means by which roles and their actors get noticed. Any kind of intense struggle due to racism or discrimination builds award-nominated characters. Hillary Swank earned her Oscar for Boys Don't Cry, for example, in which she played a tragic transsexual. Taking on roles depicting characters who contend with insurmountable odds, and not just disabilities and discrimination, can be huge career boosts for aspiring actors. As Ferrell and Black stated, characters taking on a major corporation as in Erin Brockovich or the Insider make promising roles. Conflicted, confused, and tormented souls also offer actors the chance to stretch and shine. Talent managers with lofty ambitions would do well to sign actors who show predilection for roles that demand stretching.

Actors who can also play extraordinary individuals, celebrities, and politicians can succeed too. Award history reveals a trend toward truth: from this year's the Queen and the Last King of Scotland to prior years' depictions of everyone from Johnny Cash to Malcolm X, from Ray Charles to Muhammad Ali. Actors willing to take on the personal challenge of filling someone else's shoes stand poised to win awards. Depicting real-life personalities poses multiple challenges especially when the person is still alive. The actor must work with the different and often conflicting biographical or autobiographical material at hand. A talent manager will be lucky to find actors who can portray famous figures, living or dead. The actors' physical appearance plays a big part in their suitability for the part.

Participation in a period piece also yields critical acclaim for many actors. Shakespearean dramas or elaborate costumed productions often get attention. Actors trained in stage drama do well in period pieces and those which require vocal training. Roles in period pieces demand certain types of actors, preferably those who have not yet been typecast in incongruent parts. Actors who specialize in period pieces have a better chance of being recognized for work outside the genre than vice-versa.

Similarly, intense war dramas require specific skills from actors who are asked to go beyond shallow two-dimensional roles in romantic comedies. War dramas usually involve almost all-male casts. Moreover, the nature of war drama precludes former comedians from becoming credible performers as disturbed war generals.

Specialized roles involving skills like dancing, hand-to-hand combat, or singing will demand actors with multiple talents. An agent may do well to specialize in this area of talent management because the caliber of actors and the studios and producers with whom they work differ from more mainstream movies.

Actors hoping to receive critical acclaim should choose unique and challenging roles; agents as well should attract actors with the capacity to fill them. Because nominations for awards do reflect the types of roles and films most appreciated by critics, agents should study these shows and their nominations. Themes emerge, including a propensity for dramas about characters with disabilities or other personal challenges. Going up against "the man" is also a common theme in award-nominated movies. Period pieces are often critically acclaimed. True stories from recent… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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