Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Unfortunately, the 2015 Hattys are on hiatus while The Academy deals with a serious infestation of small children within its venerable halls.  We hope to resume our mission of bringing critical hat-centric information to the masses as soon as possible.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

*** Apologies for the delay, technical difficulties were encountered

Hello once again and welcome to the 2014 Hattys! Let's talk about the year, shall we? Diligent watchers may have noticed the clear upward trajectory of nominee quality over the past decade, as the ceremony has grown from a backwoods shindig mostly attended by mustelids to today's hyperglobal extravaganza.  This growth has of course brought great joy to hatted and hatless fans alike, but there is a downside - no industry can sustain this level of explosive growth without what economists refer to as a "Market Correction", where the bubble hat bursts.  In this case, of course, we refer to a year of lower than expected quality in cinematic haberdashery.  However, The Academy, much like this well known hat enthusiast, is well equipped with the tools necessary to recover from the hatcession, and will begin deploying these tools tonight, in the form of this very award ceremony.  And we will be pulling out all the stops, by announcing each nominee in the form of the internet's most overused and abused poetic form, the haiku.

The Great Gatsby
Repulsive writers
cannot cover empty heads
But boaters sure can

we see much and contemplate
I have a helmet.

The Grandmaster
Work and time yield much
still the rain obeys neither
Simple, white Panama

The Internship
Porcelain towers
stay well removed yet welcome 
the spectral beanies 

The aged cannot leave
our destruction of syntax.
Fedora of straw.

And the envelope, please ... the recipient of award for Most Hat-Centric Movie of 2013 is The Internship.  You may have been critically panned for your general shoddiness in non-hat-related content, but The Academy is happy to ignore such trivialities.  Congratulations!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Ides of March passed a few days ago. Normally, this would signal a number of things. First, if this was anything approximating a regular climatic year, we would be experiencing the first signs a spring. Instead, in Wisconsin at least, we are blessed with a continuous cavalcade of sub-zero (Celsius) highs and a foot of snow still on the ground. More relevant to this forum, however, is another seasonal event, The Hattys, which will not be influenced by the dire state of this State, and will proceed as scheduled.

The Academy, as always, likes to keep things fresh and experiment with the presentation format from year to year. This year, the nominees will be presented as a familiar top-ten style countdown list (it goes with saying that the "winner" is number one). There will certainly be detractors who dismiss it as trite, but there was a general consensus that it fit the candidates: a well-rounded-bunch lacking clear standouts. A great year for hats in movies? Unquestionably, yes. A great year for hat-centric movies? See for yourself - let's get right to it:

10. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Included on the list because it's a Lincoln movie, but that's about the only positive here. As soon as the titular vampire hunting begins, the hat is off and stays off. The first of two Lincoln movies in the countdown - could there be any clearer sign that the trend of Hatty-baiting is getting worse than ever?  And speaking of Hatty-baiting...

9. Gangster Squad - A fedora-filled but ultimately hollow echo of last years winner, The Adjustment Bureau.  Simply slapping hats on all the main characters will only get you so far - in this case, number 9.

8. The Hobbit - Standard Middle Earth fantasy-helmet fare, but most heavy helmet-wearing was confined to a few opening scenes - particularly egregious after Gimli was helmeted over nearly the entire 58 hours of Peter Jackson's original trilogy. Additionally, most Tolkien-headwear scholars were disappointed to not see the antagonist, Azog, wearing an armored helmet.

7. The Grey - Another movie that starts solidly enough, with many cast members all wearing nice, warm knitted hats as they struggle for survival (remember, you lose 90% of your body heat through your head while stranded in a remote northern wilderness!). However, Liam Neeson eventually leaves his head unprotected, which is 1) a very silly thing to do given the circumstances and 2) asking for a serious demerit from The Academy.

6. Brave - There are a couple positives here. First, a crown (possibly more of a diadem) plays a minor role in the overall plot line. Second, a short but scene-stealing performance by a wimple - a breakthrough by haberdashery of the fairer sex. However, these strong points are overshadowed with Pixar's gratuitous and borderline obscene focus on Merida's ample head of hair. As anyone should know by this point, The Academy frowns upon any particular emphasis placed on uncovered noggins.

5. Django Unchained - It would be hard to have a top ten list any year without a cowboy movie making an appearance  and Mr. Tarantino gets bonus points for strategic bowler placement as well.  This may have been good enough to win a few years ago, but the bar keeps rising, and now Django sees itself barely sneaking into the top five.

4. Zero Dark Thirty.  This year, featured two contenders arrived with hats of dubious classification but unquestionable importance. One is still to come, but the other, Zero Dark Thirty, slides into the #4 slot because of the IR goggles strapped to the helmets of Seal Team Six.  Despite the Academy's uneasiness with the heavy helmet concept, the fact remains:  no helmet, no night-vision, no accurate shooting in the dark, no dead terrorists.  And we want to see terrorists dead - go America!

3. Moonrise Kingdom - Pillboxes, Scout Caps, Touques, Garrison Caps, Berets, and even the effervescent and underutilized Coonskin.  An unquestionably charming collection - however, this is an award for hat-centricity, and despite the cornucopia of headwear, Moonrise would still work, both artistically and mechanically, without it.  Sorry, the Hatty is not just an award for neck-up costuming.

2. Lincoln - Clear, unadorned stovepipe action. Solid supporting roles for civil-war era soldier caps - Kepis, Slouches, and the always popular Hardee hat.  Plus, Old Abe keeps it on while he's riding a horse. Spielberg definitely knows what he's doing here. However, as mentioned above, is this true hat-centrism? Spoiler alert - the stovepipe does nothing to prevent the death of America's greatest leader. For shame.

1. The Dark Night Rises.  Controversy has raged through the venerated halls of The Academy ever since the sixteenth of July, when a certain mask worn by Bane in The Dark Night Rises ignited a bitter schism. One faction was, a priori, dismissive of the entire film - yes, previous films had been discussed based on the presence of the bat-cowl, but this was only done because of lacking competition.  They considered the Bane-mask an extension of this theme, borderline headgear at best, and certainly not grounds for any commendations.  However, the other faction made a determined case for the mask to be elevated to true hat status, based on its extension past the crown of the skull, its contribution to the aesthetic of the character and its equally clear comic book origins.   Ultimately, this side not only won out, but was able to make the case that the film was the best candidate of the year, based on the unquestionable importance of this "mask" to the background, rise, power, and final demise of the film's main antagonist.  In essence, once the "hat" was established, the "centric" was never in doubt.  So congratulations, The Dark Night Rises, you are the most Hat-Centric movie of the year.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

For anyone who remembers my famous "squirrel story", this is pretty much exactly what happened at the end, but in german Everything's better in german

Sunday, March 11, 2012

At this point, it may seem best to drop all pretense and accept this blog's fate. Detractors may call it a sign of a slow, drawn out death, but that's only because they fail to see the worthiness of the truth. Those in the know realize that, in order to move forward, one must become more agile. The chaff must be discarded. This, then, is a revolution, and a growing one at that.

I speak, of course, of this site's gradual migration in focus from a general-purpose miscellany to a single-minded and overpoweringly intense digest of The Hattys. Those who are not accepting (or at least not pleased) with this are kindly invited to move on to other sources, perhaps ones that attempt to strike some kind of balance between hat-related and non-hat-related news items. Good luck with that. For those that are still here, though, let's get on to business.

The year 2011 will be known as one of transition, one where the Academy has been forced to "take off the miner's helmet and put on the jeweler's beret", as they say in the business. Previous years had been spent combing though metric tonnes of hatless drivel searching for diamonds in the rough. Now, with the newfound popularity of all things Hatty, we have been swamped with legitimate candidates, and the task now before us is to separate legitimate art from suddenly all-to-common Hatty-angling.

And that is precisely where we will begin this year's review, with a look at films that clearly have a claim to a certain degree of hat-centrism, but are missing that je ne sais quoi that is needed to be treated as a serious contender:

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - The Academy always looks kindly on piratical faire, but a film cannot simply coast on the hat-tails of previous films in the series. Yes, there were tricornes-a-plenty and enough bicornes to get by, but we're used to that by now.

Puss in Boots - A well rendered Musketeer hat is unfortunately upstaged by the titular "boots".

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Yes, Watson does look good in an out-of-character tophat, but Sherlock Holmes without a deerstalker? Blasphemy!

Moneyball - Note to producers: If you're going to try to win a Hatty by exploiting the underutilized baseball film, spend less time training the camera on the hopelessly hatless Brad Pitt, and more time on the players! It's not rocket science.

And now, on to the true contenders:

War Horse - Has the good fortune to take place in that golden military era after the obsolescence of armor suits, but before the invention of the modern infantry helmet. Very few pieces of haberdashery can go head-to-head with a well-worn officer's peak cap, and this film had several shining examples. However, at no point did the horse wear a hat, a fatal flaw considering this is completely possible, Also, we get the feeling the Spielberg was focusing most of his Hatty marketing on another film:

The Adventures of Tintin - Starts out with excellent source material, as almost everyone in the original comic strip is a fan of some form of headgear. Plus, here's a picture of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in bowlers, which is awesome.

Unfortunately, our friend Steve is apparently doomed to make the same mistake over and over, because he once again failed to make any real effort to behat his title character. Because of this glaring oversight in 2011 he has narrowly lost out to:

The Adjustment Bureau. Where to start? Yes, the film chose to work almost exclusively in the palette of neutral, earth-toned fedoras, but it has a true headwear-driven gravity that I have rarely seen in modern films. In a sure sign that the influnce of the Hattys is rapidly gaining steam, I am now able to cite external sources discussing the role and importance of hats in this film. This is merely a small sample of the available literature, but here is a Q&Awith wardrobe designer Kasia Walicka Maimone by my dear friend Julian Sancton, and here is a another by my dear friend Adam Tschorn. This is truly a film for hat-lovers by hat-lovers, so congratulations, The Adjustment Bureau, for being The Most Hat-Centric Film of 2011.

*** Delightful Musical Interlude ***

And now, in a Hattys first, we will be providing full coverage of this year's acceptance speech, delivered by the film's tireless advocate and campaigner, Mr. Chris Hill:

In its infancy, the Academy of Motion Picture Millinery bestowed their highest honor upon films that elevated headgear to art, but seemed to do so at the expense of headgear as both art and narrative. As more and more production studios took notice of the Hattys and their opportunity for increasing viewership through acclaim, the world of cinema has been flooded with increasingly-exotic haberdashery in the hopes that one well-placed beret or bowler could garner a nomination and the accompanying boost at the box office. Thus it is with great pride that I accept this award on behalf of The Adjustment Bureau. The simple fedora has become a symbol of old-fashioned professionalism, and it was used to that effect for the first half of the film. Left only at that, this movie may not have even warranted a passing mention compared to the heavyweights in the field, but when the fedora is revealed to not only serve to differentiate between the protagonists and antagonists but also as a linchpin in the plot, the hat is elevated beyond mere costume and becomes a pathway to salvation for the human actors. So I accept this award not only as an acknowledgment of the merits of the fedora in The Adjustment Bureau, but also as a proxy for all the other hats that were ahead of their time. The trilby and newsboy in The Sting. The bowlers in The Thomas Crown Affair. The fedora in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hats that were not properly honored by the Academy yet still serve as inspiration to every filmmaker that vies for a Hatty today. This is their time as well, and they will never be forgotten. Thank You.