In the political rush by the Oscar’s to coronate, LES MISERABLES, which is far from being the year’s best picture, with much of the top honors including “best picture”, many far better and much more successful films and filmmakers are being deliberately overlooked this year. One of the most notable snubs is for Barbara Broccoli, who has done a remarkable and brilliant job recreating the James Bond franchise after the death of her father, Albert Broccoli. Under Broccoli’s leadership, SKYFALL has become the first James Bond film to gross $1 billion in box office sales, and could equal or top that figure in eventual home DVD and Blu-ray disc sales as well as rentals. While LES MISERABLES has only a 70% critical approval among the critics poll at Rotten Tomatoes, but will win much of the top awards at the Oscars because of how that system seems to be rigged to reward certain films, but ignore far better pictures, Broccoli’s newest James Bond epic is not only considered to be one of the very best in the series, but has a very high 92% critical approval by comparison, putting it only a tad behind the great James Bond films like GOLDFINGER.
At the age of just 17, young Barbara Broccoli began work in the publicity department of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the 10th film in the series back in 1977, which was also a pretty good film as well, and remembered as one of the best outings for Roger Moore in the franchise history. Barbara was an active part of the promotion or other work in the franchise until the death of her father in 1996, which put her in the role of having to take over the franchise. One of the critical crossroads was looking to re-invent the series after the fourth film staring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, DIE ANOTHER DAY, garnered just a weak 57% critical approval over at Rotten Tomatoes and an even worse just 52% audience approval. The series looked headed towards disaster, as it appeared to be running out of steam, and Pierce Brosnan appeared to be doing little for the James Bond role. He looked like James Bond, but he was a mere lightweight in the role, hardly filling the shoes, or suit. He lacked to tough guy nature of Sean Connery or the humor stylings of Roger Moore. The series needed something new. At first, both producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson looked at the commercial success of DIE ANOTHER DAY, but then when they looked deeper at the critical reviews, and both changed their minds about Pierce Brosnan, and eventually told him that they were looking for some new direction for the series in 2004. In 2006, with new actor Daniel Craig, the James Bond series began a reboot with CASINO ROYALE, which gained a huge 95% critical approval on Rotten Tomatoes, although to some long term James Bond fans, the movie seemed like a great action film, but not really a James Bond movie. But, the strong public response to the reboot of the series has seemed to pay off handsomely as in SKYFALL, some critics such as Roger Ebert now admit that Daniel Craig now owns this role as James Bond.
The success of SKYFALL is also the success of Barbara Broccoli here for sure. She took a series that was starting lag with DIE ANOTHER DAY and brought new life in the series and now made it even more successful than what her father had done in terms of box office receipts. But, the politics of the Oscars won’t recognize any of this. It will instead rush to coronate a clearly inferior film like LES MISERABLES, which only made 1/3 as much money as SKYFALL at the box office, cost only 1/3 of what SKYFALL cost to produce, and got a much lower critical and public approval than SKYFALL, with many if not most of the top Oscar honors. But, this is how the Oscars work, inferior pictures are given top honors over far better films with more critical and public support.
The Los Angeles born daughter of American filmmaker, Albert Broccoli, has brought great filmmaking honor to the UK, producing a film that really celebrates the greatness of the English James Bond character, but the Oscars seem to ignore all of this success, and look for a far less good film to honor instead. But, Barbara Broccoli should be well pleased that the critics as well as audiences agree that she makes great films. A film that breaks that $1 billion box office mark is a sure sign that she’s an excellent film producer by any standard of measure.
In not too many days, the Oscars will once again rush to shore up a movie that came up weak at the box office, like Les Miserables. The Oscars often do this, looking for a weak film to support, as though it was some overlooked gem or masterpiece. But, films like SKYFALL, that spent a lot more money and brought in a lot more money that are far better films, while the Oscars only look to prop up relative junk by comparison.