Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's been quite a while, but nothing can stop the world-famous, indomitable hattys from springing up once again.

2010 has been dominated by great breadth in the genre, if not depth. One must marvel at filmmakers working in the ample range defined on one side by delicate tiaras in The Black Swan, and on the other by Jeff Bridges' rough stetson in True Grit. These two films were both recognized as nominees, but were held back by the hats presenting a very static character throughout the entire film. The academy hopes to see slightly less wooden performances, where headwear shows signs of growth and exhibits some degree of self-realization.

The next nominee, 127 hours, is the story of a man whose options for removing his baseball hat are severely limited because he can only use one of his hands. A true tragedy, and hat-centric, to be sure, but not quite enough, as the "everyman" characteristics of a simple ballcap worked against this film.

The year also had its set of period pieces whose haberdashery merited a nomination but little else. We saw solid but unspectacular work in Roman Helmetry from both Centurion and The Eagle, and the latest film to farm the aways-fertile british aristocracy for their silly head covering techniques was The Kings Speech. A yeoman's effort, to be sure, but we need to see more.

Which leaves us with our winner, which should hardly come as a surprise at this point: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which of course features a primary character in a hat that's not only instantly recognizable, but provides him with his name, and perhaps his entire identity. This is, almost by definition, what the academy is looking for, and we are proud to confer our highest honor on this film.

I'm sure, by this point, you've noticed that our winners seem to be getting stronger every year. We'd like to think that The Hattys have focused attention on an important topic that has been long been neglected, and filmmakers have taken notice - if so, we are more than a bit honored. A word of caution, though: there is always room for improvement, a film can always be more hat-centric. 2011 awaits.