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Everyone loves the previews

Celebrating "Austin Powers," "The Matrix" and "The Blair Witch Project" -- in three minutes or less.

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By Jeff Stark

Sept. 27, 1999

The Golden Trailer Awards
Directors Guild Theatre
New York
Sept. 21, 1999

Add the Golden Trailer Awards to the long list of awards shows at the margins of the entertainment machine. Promising to bring the "best in movie trailers to the world," the fast-paced show premiered last week before 350 industry folks and a live Internet audience.

"The Matrix" won four Trailers, including best of show, best action and best edit, as well as something called "best art and commerce." The spooky clip for "The Blair Witch Project" earned two statuettes, for best horror/thriller and best voice-over. "Seven" took home the show-ending contest for best of the decade.

Evelyn Brady, a film producer and one of the Trailers' three organizers, was happy with the production. "The Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Gothams -- it's all for the same thing," she said in an interview after the show. "We're different. You never see a credit for trailer makers. They're anonymous. You see their trailer and they climb back into their holes."

For a first-year program, the show was surprisingly smooth. Todd Newton, the unctuous host of "Coming Attractions" on E!, read most of the program -- including the jokes -- off a teleprompter in front of him, but he kept the action moving though a series of 20-second trailer snippets.

There were some kinks. At the start of the show, Newton told the audience -- most of whom seemed to be either up for awards themselves, or there to support pals who were -- that winners were not allowed to walk off with their statuette. The Golden Trailers had only two. One was kept on the podium, the other underneath -- just in case someone accidentally walked off with the gold-plated hunk of copper.

The affair was taped by a small camera crew and broadcast to the Internet. Newton addressed those at home only once, after two smutty clips from "Cousin Bette" and "Cruel Intentions" played for the "Trashiest" award. "For those of you watching us on the Internet," said Newton, "you finally got what you paid for."

Director Brady says that the movie studios were supportive of the Golden Trailers, which is important because studios and contract marketing firms -- not the original film's director -- actually make most trailers. She and her partners, Monica Brady and Esther Bell, conceived the program a couple of years back. Harvey Weinstein at Miramax offered his blessing and some Miramax employees to help with judging. Director Quentin Tarantino came on board as a judge, and "pretty soon we had a show," says Brady.

The call for submissions put hundreds of trailers, made for films between January 1998 and December '99, up for awards. (There were notable holes, like "The Sixth Sense," and a few disappointments, like the absence of Vincent Gallo's beautiful dialogue-free trailer for "Buffalo 66.")

The editors and producers responsible for the award-winning material kept their speeches short and to the point, occasionally sharing little stories about their work. One of them revealed that Mike Myers, for instance, was in the editing room "basically all the time" for the making of the "Austin Powers" clips. And the trailer for the Vietnamese film "Three Seasons" was written and edited before the editor had seen a version of the film with subtitles.

More typical, however, were the short, bemused speeches -- the kind of thing that would be expected from the people who work in dark corners of the film industry. "I've never won an award before," said editor Angie Speranza ("Good Will Hunting") in her speech. "This is very cool."

The winners:

Best comedy -- "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"
Best art and commerce -- "The Matrix"
Best music -- "Out of Sight"
Best drama -- "Good Will Hunting"
Trashiest -- "Cruel Intentions"
Best foreign -- "Three Seasons"
Best horror/thriller -- "The Blair Witch Project"
Best voice-over -- "The Blair Witch Project"
The dark and stormy night -- "8 mm"
Best trailer, no budget -- "Return of the Masterminds"
Best animation/family -- "A Bug's Life"
Golden fleece award -- "8 mm"
Best documentary -- "Return With Honor"
Best romance -- "Great Expectations"
Best action -- "The Matrix"
Most original -- "Run Lola Run"
Best edit -- "The Matrix"
Best of show -- "The Matrix"
Best of decade -- "Seven"
salon.com | Sept. 27, 1999

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About the writer
Jeff Stark is the associate editor of Salon Arts and Entertainment.

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