Groundhog's Day hasn't historically been the biggest American holiday, but this year Hollywood is gearing up for what promises to be a momentous date. That's because on February 2nd, the highly coveted Golden Groundhog will be awarded to the Best Underground Movie of 2005. The Golden Groundhog Awards were established to recognize genuinely outstanding films that lacked the distribution and marketing support needed to become the blockbuster hits they deserved to be. It was announced today that the awards ceremony will be hosted by William Shatner, an actor who has enjoyed tremendous success on the silver screen, but who also knows from firsthand experience that great films can fall through the cracks.
Golden Groundhog Awards
Golden Groundhog Awards
According to a Golden Groundhog spokesperson, William Shatner is the natural choice to host this year's inaugural award ceremony. This is largely because he has recently founded the William Shatner DVD Club (www.shatnerdvdclub.com) which identifies phenomenal but unheralded sci-fi and fantasy films, and offers them to customers for just $4 each. Stephanie Silver, one of the founders of the Golden Groundhogs, said this, "The whole purpose of our organization is to highlight the amazing films that did not make it into the public consciousness because they didn't have support from studios and distributors. The William Shatner DVD Club has a similar mission. They are focused on bringing underground sci-fi hits to audiences who will appreciate them in an easy and inexpensive format. Given that William Shatner is also a true Hollywood icon, he was a perfect choice."
When asked for his thoughts on the invitation to host the Golden Groundhogs, Mr. Shatner said, "I'm honored that they chose me to host their first awards ceremony. I believe that great movies deserve to be seen, regardless of who makes them or how much money is available to market them. I founded the William Shatner DVD Club to help audiences inexpensively discover great underground movies, and I'm thrilled to work with the Golden Groundhogs to bring the unjustly overlooked movies of 2005 into the limelight."
To be eligible for a Golden Groundhog, a film must meet three criteria: the film must have been released during the previous year, grossed less than $1 million at the U.S. box office, and received rave reviews from the limited audiences who watched the film. For 2005 there are five nominees for the Golden Groundhog:
Green Street Hooligans is the story of a wrongfully expelled Harvard student (Elijah Wood) who moves to London and falls in with a violent group of football (soccer) hooligans. With visuals reminiscent of Fight Club, deeply engaging characters, and a satisfying conclusion, Green Street Hooligans is a film richly deserving of a Golden Groundhog. U.S. Box Office: $344,000.
Mirrormask takes us on a stunning visual journey as Helena, a 15 year old circus performer, finds herself in an alternate universe torn by an epic battle between good and evil. The movie, brought to us by the Jim Henson company, has an original plot set against the familiarly fantastic settings of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, and is a worthy nominee for a Golden Groundhog. U.S. Box Office: $865,000.
Nine Lives is an engaging glimpse into the personal stories of nine very different women, portrayed by an all-star cast including Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Sissy Spacek, and Robyn Wright Penn. Each woman's story is individually gripping, but as the episodic narration unfolds, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. U.S. Box Office: $347,000.
Sunnyvale is an often offensive but thoroughly hilarious comedy centering around a porn-watching, food-obsessed loner whose life is changed when a slightly lost (but insanely attractive) pot delivery girl (April Wade) decides to "improve" him. Although viciously funny, Sunnyvale also manages to deliver intricate character development and great production values on a budget of under $100,000. U.S. Box Office: $0.
Up For Grabs is the absurd and humorous true story about the legal battle over possession of Barry Bonds' record setting 73rd home run - a memento valued at over $1 million. This engaging documentary showcases a real life drama that is a dark reflection of O'Henry's classic "The Gift of The Magi" set against a background of baseball. U.S. Box Office: $1,880
The Golden Groundhog Awards take their name from an unlikely American hero - the groundhog. The groundhog hibernates in an underground burrow throughout the winter before emerging on February 2nd to make his annual winter weather prediction. The five nominees for the Golden Groundhog award are kindred spirits to the groundhog, underground movie hits waiting for their opportunity to emerge and take their rightful place in the spotlight of American popular culture. This February 2nd, the First Annual Golden Groundhog will be awarded and a new Hollywood darling will be born.
Although William Shatner has been confirmed as the host of this year's award ceremony, no television coverage has been announced as of yet. For more information on the Golden Groundhogs, the five nominees, and updates on media coverage of the awards ceremony, please visit www.goldengroundhogs.com. To learn more about the underground movies offered by William Shatner's Sci-Fi DVD club, visit www.shatnerdvdclub.com.
Stay tuned for updates.