A win for "A Trip to Jamaica" would have further nourished the notion that a commercially successful movie equals a great movie.
Fortunately for the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards on Saturday, March 4, 2017, it redeemed its image by not confusing effort and commercial success with true greatness.
In December when the organizers of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards announced its 2017 nominees, AY Makun's "A Trip to Jamaica" nabbed six nominations in major categories including Best Writer, Best Actress in a Comedy, Best Actor in a Comedy, Best Movie West Africa, Best Lighting Design and Best Director.
These nominations threatened AMVCAs acclaimed prestige as a reliable and reputable movie awards platform in Africa. The nomination of the movie which had grossed over 150 million naira at the box office, seemed like an attempt to ratify the tendency to see a great movie in terms of its commercial success.
While Makun's ludicrously large fan base will have you believe that the movie deserved a win at the 2017 AMVCAs ceremony, the truth is, a win for the movie would have completely robbed AMVCA of its prestige, and Nigerians would have been left with a political platform.
While the film might be good in the sense that most Nigerians found it 'entertaining,' that doesn't mean it's worthy of awards show recognition — no matter what the jury was thinking in the first place when they nominated the movie in six categories.
Honestly, I think the movie was only nominated because of its box office feat, and the actors for lack of better options in their respective categories. Funke Akindele won the best actress in a comedy award for her role in "Jenifa" - a well-deserved win. It's a major bummer to think that she was going to nab a statue instead for playing Bola in "A Trip to Jamaica."
In the best writer, best Movie West Africa and Best Director categories, the movie didn't stand a chance to beat movies and directors like Izu Ojukwu, "Vaya," "76," "Oloibiri" and "93 Days." These movies came with nuanced and beautifully crafted performances, direction and storytelling. It was a stiff competition for the 2016 comedy movie, and the AMVCAs jury would have struggled to justify their decision if the movie had won in any category not determined by the viewers.
A Trip to Jamaica's nominations wasn't based on merit, it was a successful culmination of a narrative that has been built by most filmmakers and award platforms, a narrative that feeds the notion that a blockbuster equals a good movie.
This same narrative earned Makun a New Era award at the 2015 AMVCAs for his role in the blockbuster "30 Days in Atlanta." Whatever the 'New Era Award' means, it is interesting to note that he beat Ivie Okujaye, Kunle Afolayan and Omoni Oboli to nab that statue.
Makun and his director Robert Peters might be great at casting and marketing, but they are yet to produce that movie deserving of the 'prestigious' Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.
Despite the incomprehensible nominations for "A Trip to Jamaica," the AMVCA jury found redemption in its loss. It would have been a grave miscarriage of justice to reward the comedy movie as against movies that were more deserving.
AMVCAs made amends, and that's all the redemption it needs.