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.