WHY THE LOSERS’ PERFORMANCES MAY BECOME MORE SIGNIFICANT
Why hasn’t Aden Young been nominated for a Golden Globe (or an Emmy)? Aden Young stars in SundanceTV’s RECTIFY as Daniel Holden. RECTIFY is an hour-long scripted drama that follows Daniel Holden, an ex-con who after 19 years on death row for the rape and murder of his girlfriend is released due to new DNA evidence. His return home to a small Georgia town brings new challenges including new family members and a vastly divided community. Seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Netflix.
It would be a gross understatement to say that RECTIFY was a critical hit. Metacritic, a website that aggregates reviews, has listed it as one of the top critically acclaimed shows of the decade. Season 1 has a Metacritic score of 82 out of 100 (based on 28 critics). Season 2 a score of 92 (based on 16 critics). Season 3 scored 89 (based on 11 critics) and Season 4 (it’s last) received a 99 (based on 11 critics). According to the site, RECTIFY was 2016’s most critically acclaimed Television show. In fact, Season 4 of RECTIFY is the second-highest rated show to date on Metacritic. Only the second season of Murphy Brown has a higher score, a perfect 100 out of 100.
Aden received unanimous acclaim over it’s four season. The Daily Beast’s Jace Lacob called Aden’s performance “dazzling”. Variety’s Brian Lowery praised Young’s performance as ‘remarkable”. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall chose the word “fascinating” to describe Young while Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara opted for the adjustive: “astonishing”. Redeye’s Curt Wagner described Young as “extraordinary”. Salon’s Melanie McFarland wrote that Young’s portrayal was “tremendous” and “magical.” IndieWire’s Ben Travers said Young gave a “well-crafted cadence and heartfelt overall performance”. Lastly, Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan said “Young’s performance makes it impossible to not care for this yearning, wounded man.”
So why hasn’t Aden Young been nominated for a Golden Globe (or an Emmy)?
It just so happened that the answer to my question was in the book that I was reading, Steven Hyden’s Your Favorite Band is Killing Me. (Hyden’s book is awesome and I highly suggest you run out and buy it today) Here is the excerpt that calmed my nerves:
Film historian Mark Harris has a theory about movies that don’t win Best Picture (which he calls X films) and their relationship to movies that do (these are Y films). “Y films are often derisively viewed,” he writes, as “bromidic, blandly messagey, or hopelessly anodyne (there’s potential in all of us; you never know what might happen; everyone has something to overcome). And when they’re not telling you that everything will be OK, they’re addressing important subjects with noncontroversial philosophical shrugs (racism is bad; if you repress emotions, they’ll come back to hurt you; we’re all connected).” Harris is referring to films such as Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, and, obviously, Crash.
“X films, meanwhile, include Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, and Brokeback Mountain. These films “tend to be dark, cynical, existential or nihilist, physically or emotionally violent, R-rated, and somewhat savage in outlook,” Harris says. “They are often by, about, and for the alienated, the skeptical, and the enraged.” Harris admits (as I do) that “‘X’ movies are more to my personal taste than ‘Y’ movies—but the least of them still reassure and flatter their target audience by congratulating it for its p in exactly the same way that ‘Y’ movies do.”
What Harris doesn’t (or perhaps can’t) explain is why the Y movie always seems to beat out the X movie in the short term and then suffer in reputation over the long haul as the X movie grows in stature. I suppose you could just say that X movies are inherently better and therefore have a better shelf life, but that view seems to flatter the people who do the remembering. Those inclined to feel affinity for “the alienated, the skeptical, and the enraged” also tend to be the ones writing the history books.
What if the defining characteristic of an X film isn’t that it’s dark or innovative or “better” but only that it didn’t win the big award? If Crash winning Best Picture ultimately hurt the film’s overall legacy, it’s possible that Brokeback Mountain seems more significant because it didn’t win. Not winning exaggerates Brokeback’s outsider appeal. Crash beating Brokeback Mountain is the best thing that ever happened to Brokeback’s street cred.
Awards shows wouldn’t exist if you didn’t have one group putting forward a highly flawed theory of what constitutes quality in a given field and another group complaining that this standard hopelessly misses the mark. You can’t have an X without a Y, and vice versa. The Y side has the numbers, but the X side is more stalwart, in part as a reaction against Y’s hegemony. Eventually, enthusiasm from the masses for Y moves on, allowing X to take over.
[Excerpt from Steven Hyden’s Your Favorite Band is Killing Me]
This Sunday Aden Young is not nominated for a Golden Globe Award. What once left me dumbfounded and to be blunt, pissed off, now makes me glad he was not nominated. Aden Young as Daniel Holden is an X. Eventually the masses will come around and move past the Kevin Spaceys, the Jon Hamms, the James Spaders and the who ever X talent was in the OJ Movie. Aden Young will then take over as he should and as he deserves.
As you watch the Golden Globes this Sunday I encourage you to cheer on those who do not win. The losers’ performances may take over and become much more culturally relevant and significant than the winners’ performances. From TV to movies to music and literature it’s not always the one who wins the awards or sells the most that will have the greater impact on our culture.
The Golden Globes airs this Sunday January 8, 2017 at 8pm ET on NBC.
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