Thursday, August 09, 2018

The incredibly stupid new Oscar rules

I was going to do a post about Kathleen Turner’s JEWEL OF THE NILE comments but with the Motion Picture Academy drastically changing Oscar rules I thought I would address that today and save the JEWEL for Monday.

If you haven’t heard the news: The Academy this year will add a “Best Popular Movie” Oscar and for the first time, not air some of the categories live.  A few awards will be given away during commercial breaks and snippets of acceptance speeches will air later in the broadcast. Those categories have yet to be determined.  Let the cockfights begin! 

Congratulations, Motion Picture Academy, you just screwed the pooch.  

First understand these changes have only been instituted to improve ratings. They have nothing to do with righting wrongs or ensuring that deserving artists are given their due. This is just because they want better demographics. Period.

This is just so BLACK PANTHER fans have something to root for.

So the plan is what, “popular” movies in one category and art films that no one sees in the other? What happens if a movie is both? So BLACK PANTHER is not eligible for “Best Picture” because it’s also popular? Or does it get nominated twice?  What constitutes "popular" -- Melissa McCarthy in the cast? 

And if there’s more interest in the “Best Popular Movie” category than “Best Picture, “ then “Best Picture” becomes an afterthought. Say goodbye to any credibility. Say goodbye to rewarding excellence in filmmaking.

“Popular Movies” already have an award. It’s called MONEY. The filmmakers all get rich. They don’t get an Oscar but they do get a mansion in Trousdale.  Isn't that enough?  

So the Oscars are now a joke. Next?

As for not airing all the categories, that means you don’t hear the nominees’ names read. They’re nominated for an Academy Award, probably the highlight of their professional career, and the telecast won’t provide the two seconds required to say their individual names on TV.

Yeah, THOSE are the problems. Not a stupid bit where the stars go to a nearby theater and hand out candy and take selfies for ten minutes. Not endless clip montages. Not hosts singing “We Saw Your Boobs.” Not pizza deliveries.  Not monologues all for the benefit of Oprah.  Not cringe-worthy banter by actor presenters. Not Academy president bullshit speeches on how Hollywood “cares.”

The Oscars can only re-spark interest if they actually MEAN SOMETHING. But you cheapen the award, you strip away any class and luster the ceremony had, and what you’re left with is… the Silver Globes. Not even the Golden Globes because at least they’re honest about what attention whores they are. And they serve dinner.

Having an Oscar is really going to mean something when MAMA MIA 3 wins Best Picture. 


Nick Alexander said...

I'm sure you remember vividly the 1927 ceremonies... no? _Wings (1927)_ is considered to be the very first Best Picture winner. Except... there was actually a second best picture winner, called _Sunrise (1927)_. Over time, I have seen _Sunrise_ on many classic films favorite lists, including most romantic, and most cinematic. But _Wings_ somehow is listed as the first Oscar winner, even though _Sunrise_ is the better film, the one that still holds up today.

In other words, there can only be one Best Picture winner. Everything else is a consolation prize.

J Lee said...

As many others (many. many others) have already noted, part of the Academy's Oscar ratings woes have been due to the growing disconnect between what's considered good and what's considered popular, in terms of which films drawn people to the theaters and which films draw nominations for the top Oscar awards. And that's because the people running Hollywood today are super-cautious with their big-budget movie selections, where virtually everything is either derivative from some other pop-culture venue (comic books or sequels to already-established franchises) where nothing more is expected of the movies than to make money.

Compare that to 25-45 years ago, when movies could be both original (or, at least more could be derivative from novels) and big box-office successes. Originality today usually lands in a few art house theaters in the Top 5-10 metro areas around the country and that's about it for their market coverage -- if people elsewhere want to see them, they either have to be away from home or wait for Netflix. When those are the movies then up for the top awards, you're simply not going to get people to tune in, because the films have as little local presence as the Tony Awards have to everyone who doesn't have easy access to Broadway.

(And if the people running the Oscars really think the "Most Popular" award is going bring people back to their TV screens, it will be interesting to see where they slot the presentation of the award on the show, to the point a few years down the line they could be saving it for the end instead of "Best Picture" simply to keep viewers tuned in as long as possible.)

DARON72 said...

It seems the Academy is turning the Oscars into the MTV Movie Awards for the sake of ratings. ...and the award for Best Fight goes to the producers of "Moonlight" for beating the crap out of the producers of "La La Land" for Best Picture!

Janet Ybarra said...

I agree this new category is stupid, and I'll bet it it lasts a year or two and then it gets ditched.

The problem, it seems to me, is the Academy is turning itself in pretzels trying to recapture a TV audience that no longer exists, in the same way we had talked about the MLB All Star Game not getting the same audience share it once did.

Maybe the way MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL slid off of broadcast and is now on ESPN, maybe it's time for the Oscars to perhaps AMC or Sundance TV, where it can become an all day binge event, from the red carpet to heading off to the after parties.

At least that would put an end to the Academy doing stupid things to chase an audience which may not exist anymore.

Mr. Hollywood said...

100% on the nose Ken! Had a gut feeling something like this was going to happen. The once prestigious Oscar has now been cheapened to the point of irrelevance. At least we can look back at previous Oscar shows and marvel at the quality of the films and the greatness of the filmmakers and the stars!

Bruce said...

Well said Ken. I would love to have been present for the conversations where they convinced themselves this would work. When the ratings don't improve, I guess the next step will be getting Trump to host (perhaps from jail).

Pizzagod said...

Spot on-and really, what is an Oscar anymore? You're right, it's all about the Benjamins, and unless it's something I really want to see NOW I'm more than content to wait until it shows up on demand or on Amazon.

E. Yarber said...

Let's say when you were a kid the entire family used to go to Aunt Laura's for Thanksgiving. Everybody was young, had a lot of fun being together, and associated the day with the special dishes Laura served: her homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pies. Decades later, Laura has been gone for years and maybe some relatives still get together trying to recreate the same magic, but now they're just going through the motions and have no idea how to recreate her recipes. The celebration rings hollow, the food tastes wrong.

The Oscars may have been contrived by the movie heads as a means of conferring honors on themselves, but they still had a spark before the studios became pieces of conglomerates. Everyone was on one lot or another in LA, and knew everyone else. In one view, for one night all the demigods and demigoddesses of Hollywood were leveled and had to appear in public as themselves, in the position of wanting something most would not receive. They weren't humiliated, but humanized. Even if it was still a show, it was satisfying.

Eventually the showmen were replaced by the accountants. The new generation realized that the Oscars were good for business, but didn't understand why viewers related to them. Resenting the power the old Hollywood had in the general imagination, the awards gradually turned into something the CEOs understood, a self-mocking late-night TV parody of themselves, with product placement and dumb stunts replacing the actual ceremony. A lot of this substitution came about because the executives hated the part where some of their employees lost on camera. Anything spontaneous about someone's win had to be rushed past as "boring," though the snide gags and promotional numbers were given increased time because they represented the things these guys were comfortable with: contempt for the medium and cynical marketing.

Is it any wonder that this pre-packaged marathon turned viewers off as the once presumably off-the-cuff Awards became as dim a memory as homemade pies replaced with something from the frozen foods aisle? When confronted with the unpopularity of their sloppy attempt to carry on a tradition, naturally those responsible would think, "We better double-down on the marketing."

Dennis Hartin said...

Ken, This is not a new thing. Pictures were effectively taken out of the running for Best Picture when the categories Best Documentary, Best Foreign Film and Best Animated Film were introduced. Here's my radical suggestion: eliminate Best Picture, and have winners in categories like Best Drama, Best Comedy, Best Action Film, etc. There's never been a "Best TV Show" category at the Emmys, so why have one at the Oscars?

Peter said...

Let's all be honest. The only reason they've come up with this ridiculous Popular Film Oscar is because they were terrified of another "Oscars So White" controversy when Black Panther doesn't get nominated for Best Picture.

Black Panther is very entertaining but it is not Best Picture worthy. But because the Academy were obviously worried that they'd face accusations of racism, this stupid gimmick is designed to placate the fans of the film and all the social justice warriors who are always looking for an excuse to complain about something.

On a different topic, it's incredibly sad to hear that Margot Kidder committed suicide. She never truly found happiness in life.

Covarr said...

Best picture has already gone almost exclusively to art films for years. The problem is already there, this is just bringing more attention to it. It's impossible to take the biggest awards seriously. Ironically, the technical categories they probably think people aren't interested in, such as best sound mixing, best costume design, etc., are the ones that still mean the most. And I bet those are the first to get the live TV axe.

tavm said...

Hey, here's a politically correct solution in reducing time on the Oscars: How about merging the Actor/Actress categories so Meryl Streep can compete against Tom Hanks and J.K. Simmons against Allison Janney?

therealshell said...

Dwayne Johnson will receive the "Lifetime Achievement" Oscar in 2020.

Roger Owen Green said...

But it is also a reaction to having movies that NO ONE saw because of its release in NYC and LA in the last week in December. I saw 4 of the 5 Supporting Actress nominees, but not Mary J. Blige, in Mudbound because, as far as I know, it never played in Albany, NY.

VincentS said...

It reminds me of that pathetic AMERICAN IDOL gimmick they did a few years back when they had all the nominees (I think it was for Best Editor) standing on stage as they read the winner. You're so right, Ken. The more gimmicks they try and ignore the real problems (like taking notice whether or not all the nominees are of the same race BEFORE everyone else has to point it out to them) the more they will suffer. I think rank and file members of the Academy (whoever they are) should revolt until the changes that you say are at least tried.

Terrence Moss said...

the oscars are over -- and by their own doing. the show could easily come in at three hours if they just cut the crap.

and they have yet to address the REAL issue: most people don't have access to the nominated films and therefore have no interest or stake in who wins.

the academy bends over backwards to screen films for their members but could care less if plumber joe and his wife get to see them.

Dhruv said...

I remember reading an article on the economics of spending so much money on winning the best picture award. It said that, once a movie wins or even gets nominated, then it gets a new lease of life at the box office. Audiences showed interest in what was basically a list of the best movies of the year.

But now that they are categorized as "art" movies, they will pale in comparison to those nominated in the 'popular' category. Will those people who showed interest in the nominated "art" movies, go to see them in theaters when they are re-released during the Oscar season?

And if there is no incentive, except for the bragging rights, then I don't think there would be hectic lobbying or money spent to win the award.

And would filmmakers like to be nominated in the "art" category. To me it looks like a consolation price compared to the "popular" category. Maybe I am wrong......

Thanks for the great post Ken.

Terrence Moss said...

Peter. if you think that social justice warriors are just looking for an excuse to complain, then you clearly haven't taken the time to understand what they're doing (or trying to do in the face of disregard such as yours) -- especially as it relates to OSCARS SO WHITE.

Terrence Moss said...

MUDBOUND was on Netflix -- which is another problem.

Terrence Moss said...

correction: there was a qualifying run in limited release. yet another problem.

blinky said...

The Peoples Choice Golden Globe Oscar Meyer Weiner Awards.

Anthony Hoffman said...

They’re trying to be like the BAFTAs. All of these changes are things the BAFTAs do and it sucks for them too.

gottacook said...

The analysis I've seen that makes the most sense to me concerns the role of ABC (which has spent a lot of money to have Oscars broadcast rights for some years to come). ABC owns Disney, which in turn (via Marvel and the Star Wars movies) makes the great majority of what would be the nominees for the "best popular film" award for the foreseeable future.

As for the length of the broadcast, someone mentioned that if AMPAS simply got rid of the performances of the Best Song nominees (and their introductory remarks, and the introduction of the person giving those remarks, and the ad break that typically precedes or follows each song), a full hour could be saved right there. Most of the Best Song nominees each year are wholly unmemorable, and there have been only two or three performances in the past 50 years that have become well-known in their own right, such as Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft" in the early 1970s.

gottacook said...

Dennis Hartin: The Emmys did once have an "Outstanding Single Program, Drama or Comedy" award category. I only know this because I was a fan of NBC's Night Gallery while in high school and saw the original broadcast of Rod Serling's "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" (starring William Windom and Diane Baker) and it was nominated for that award, losing to The Andersonville Trial (a worthy winner).

benson said...

I still respectfully disagree. Let's not forget. AMPAS gets a shload of money from ABC. I'm guessing AMPAS wants to continue to get a shload of money from ABC. Then you have to do something to revive some interest in the broadcast. If you want to recognize all the hardworking and very talented people on a movie crew, great. Then simply have a convention, and don't broadcast it. Everyone can give a thank you speech in front of their peers and make it as long as they want.

Yes, the broadcast has become bloated. But if you cut out all the bloat, then it becomes little more than award delivering endeavor and nothing else.

Is there a happy medium in between? I sincerely doubt it. Where are you going to find a consensus for what to keep in and what to get rid of? Me? I want to main acting, directing and writing awards and the dead people celebration. And quite honestly, I don't need to hear people with humongous egos go on and on. And yes, late night bits about selfies and pizza have no place in this four hour window. But other people do enjoy that. So what's the answer?

VP81955 said...

This should never be viewed as solely a black-white issue, as Chris Rock unfortunately did when he hosted the Oscars a few years back. What about Asians and Hispanics? If "Crazy Rich Asians" becomes a left-field surprise hit (and it's getting excellent reviews), it could also be in the same boat as "Black Panther," though it's a romantic comedy, not a superhero flick.

McAlvie said...

In any given year, it seems like we're lucky if there's even one movie that actually qualifies as "good." That is, good script, acting, score, etc. Which means that any film that comes close is an automatic "best" without much competition, and while some end up being good box office (usually to the surprise of the accountants), they are often movies nobody has actually seen. I suspect this is why they came up with a popularity category.

I don't bother watching the Oscars because I'm not invested in them. I couldn't name three movies in a year that I would even root for. And that's why the ratings are down for the Oscars - because they don't make movies worthy driving to the theater for, never mind the price of a ticket. If you don't care about the movies, why would you care about the awards?

VP81955 said...

Yes, indeed -- the House of Mouse has its corporate hands all over this move.

And as a screenwriter in training, I fear Best Screenplay could be one of the categories relegated to commercial breaks. Somewhere Robert Riskin, Norman Krasna, Ben Hecht and Nora Ephron are screaming.

If the telecast is deemed too long, move it up a half-hour and extend it to 3 1/2 hours, cutting out the red-carpet crap. If the shopgirls and receptionists watching are more concerned with who's wearing what than the films that are nominated, tough.

Sy said...

You know what will make them interesting? Get some presenters who will grab the eyeballs.

Like those accountants - one who looks like Matt Damon and the lady to present an award. First have them "share" their experience of the botch-up.

Get Seth to sing a song about Hollywood Jews and present an award.

Have Roman Polanski thru video conferencing to present one. Woody Allen and his daughter-wife, Kobe Bryant, Mel Gibson, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K., Casey Affleck.

Looks like a wacky list but hey this is Hollywood, they will do anything for ratings.

Unknown said...

I think the solution is even more award shows. There just isn't enough. Having more award shows would then reflect real life. I know as a computer engineer all the award banquets I have to attend to receive awards, is what it is all about. I was contacted by a recruiter about a position at another company, and I wouldn't bother because they only had 4 award shows they attend. It has to be 8 or more, because I'm not a robot

Laura said...

"Not cringe-worthy banter by actor presenters."... But that has been going on since the 60s. Painful they were and are even now. Most of the banter in the past involved Bob Hope, the host and the presenter.

The real lampooning of the Oscars began when everyone got their voice thru the net. Because until then it was just the review of the papers the next day. Now everyone is weighing in and they get crushed day by day. Just see the number of comments on your blog. Before the internet would you be able to snarkily take down the Oscars or give a platform to your readers.

To me, Oscars were always just a hedonistic time pass contrived by the decayed society of Hollywood.

Brian said...

No one has mentioned this, but time is also consumed by hosts when they come back from a commercial break. Some witty comment on the winner's speech or just some observation on someone's dress. And now count the number of breaks.

The worst was Billy Crystal. Always some comment, and if that didn't get a laugh he kept continuing till he got a snigger. He was the worst host for me. His monologues were basically crappy songs about the nominees or kissing Jack Nicholson's ass. His performances were a painful reminder of Hollywood's mutual kiss ass incestuous society. I agree with you Ken that Seth's song was not required, but it was funny at least.

Jimmy and Ellen were outsiders who were trying too hard to impress the celebrities. And their time consuming gags reflected that.

Chris Rock had a free run during 'Oscars so white' year. So he came up with an elaborate cookie selling crap.

You need Jimmy Gervais who doesn't give a rat's ass about these celebrities and roasts them. That will connect with the audience who - let's admit it - want to see the celebrities, but at the same time wants someone to puncture their egos and yank them down to Earth.

Charlie said...

Just listened to your podcast. So finally we get to know what you get in your residual checks.
How about letting us know about the 'Cheers' residual check too 😏

Academy is tying itself in knots. See the outrage today, now they will retract the changes. Every year they are getting shit faced by something or the other. This year its their own doing.

Just ban the speeches (lectures) and bring down the show down to 3 Hours. Let them talk backstage all they want.

Jeff Boice said...

This reminds me of the Grammy Awards in the 1960's and their attempts to appeal to the kids by giving out a Grammy for Best Rock and Roll Song. Never worked. One year the Best Rock and Roll Grammy went to Bent Fabric for "Alley Cat". Another year "Good Vibrations" lost out to "Winchester Cathedral". They finally gave up in the early 70's. Probably the same thing will happen here.

Unknown said...

The problem AMPAS is trying to rectify (low ratings) will not be fixed by adding this extra category. The people who would care about whether a popular film wins are the same people who are going to wait and watch the clips on YouTube the next day anyway.

Jeff Maxwell said...

What the heck is going on? Has everybody, including the Academy, lost their minds?

I’m hiding under the covers more than I used to.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Isn't the "Best Popular Movie" by definition the one that made the most money? So no voting necessary, just decide whether to include world-wide grosses, video rentals (if that's still a thing), downloads, etc. Maybe an award for Most Pirated Movie Prior To Release (China and non-China).

How long before somebody points out that plain old Best Picture is now Best Unpopular But Arty Movie? With its implied criticism of most moviegoers, who would rather see ANTMAN VS. ZANTAX than THE ARTIST.

If it's numbers ABC/Disney covets, add a porn category. After ten o'clock, of course. Stormy Daniels already has more name recognition than Elizabeth Warren.

Better still, abolish the whole silly business.

Kid said...

Terrence Moss, your comment comes across as somewhat racist to me. You're saying there are too many white people at the Oscars? To see how offensive that seems, imagine a white guy going to see a production of Porgy and Bess, then complaining about there being too many black people on stage. If you want the world to be colour blind then don't make colour an issue.

Brian said...

Not Jimmy. Ricky Gervais.

Mike Williams said...

The BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Film awards have had two 'Best Picture' awards for some years - Best Film, Outstanding British Film (both awards this year were won by Three Billboards, because Film Four is one of the production companies) but they've never as far as I am aware had a Most Popular Film award - they leave that to some of the other award ceremonies. I'm not sure they would want one either - it does demean the award slightly.

Having said that, the televised ceremony does tend to have the "presented earlier" awards towards the end, which tend to be the cinematography/make-up/costume/special effects ones, and they are the winner, a quick clip and the short speech. But that's done because the deal with the broadcaster (BBC or ITV) is for two hours only, and at least on the BBC Ads are not the issue.

We also had until this year Stephen Fry as the presenter...

Janet Ybarra said...

Which is why I think once the Academy's current relationship with ABC is done, it would be wise to be satisfied with a somewhat smaller shload of money and put the the Oscars broadcast on cable outlet or streaming provider for afficianados and put on a nice classy package and stop debasing themselves trying to recapture the audience they had in 1981 or 1991 which is never coming back.

Of course, it's also true Middle America never does get to see the nominated flicks, but that's a problem for the studios and a whole different discussion...

MikeKPa. said...

They should just go back to having a dinner at a hotel sans TV. Let's see how many show up, especially with no red carpet shows. The show has become a long, boring self-congratulatory, insider program. Most viewers haven't seen many of the nominated movies, so why should they care? I saw most of them and even I was bored. Cut the speeches to 30 seconds and if an actor can't get his/her words out without choking up, cut to commercial.

Janet Ybarra said...

But dinner sans broadcast of any kind means no TV revenue, and I doubt the Academy would go for that.

DARON72 said...

I agree that 'it's all about the benjamins' when it comes to these award shows as well as other awards and honors. I like Niecy Nash but she has a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame and Bill Bixby doesn't...WTF?

Janet Ybarra said...

Hell, President Voldemort has a star on the Walk for one stupid, mediocre TV show. I think that is ridiculous.

But I agree Bill Bixby should have a star.

I disagree with the Hollywood Chamber, however. I believe there ought to be circumstances where a star can be revoked/removed (ie Bill Cosby).

Stephen Robinson said...

Why is BLACK PANTHER not "Best Picture" worthy? Because it's about a superhero? It at least tries to explore issues more complex than the navel gazing of most movies Woody Allen has made in the past few decades (and been nominated for, by the way).

No one can dare suggest that STAR WARS is perhaps a better movie than ANNIE HALL -- from the technical achievement alone to arguably a more compelling character arc (the heroic journey) for the lead. No, SW has light sabers in it!

I could take another Best Picture winner (1976's Rocky, for example) and turn it into a superhero film with only cosmetic revisions. Is it suddenly no longer Best Picture? Is Rocky's struggle no longer moving?

There are a lot of crap superhero films. Just like there are a lot of crap "serious films" (Woody Allen has made a lot of them. It's the 40th anniversary of his first attempt, which is the dreadful INTERIORS).

I wish we could keep open minds and not try to silo the works. I'd say the same for the Emmys: There were years where CHEERS or FRASIER flat-out were the best shows on TV. Frankly, there were some points where the *dramas* got a break by not having to compete with comedies.

VP81955 said...

If so, the first to go should be Spade Cooley, a western swing bandleader who had a popular TV variety series in Los Angeles in the '50s. He was convicted in the particularly gruesome murder of his second wife in 1961 (which may have come after the first batches of stars were installed the year before).

I'd like to see Teri Garr or Jackie DeShannon get a star myself...especially since both still are with us.

James Van Hise said...

Why are the ratings for the Oscars so important? Because of the show's 3 hour length, many people just don't care to sit through it and are satisfied with getting the wrap-up afterwards. The Oscars also doesn't seem to care about broadening the fan base for the show. The E Channel used to simulcast the behind the scenes Oscar press room where journalists interviewed the winners after every Oscar was handed out and you saw the actors much more than you did during the broadcast, and the program would be rerun by the E Channel a couple times. But then it abruptly stopped and no one else picked it up even though in many ways it was more interesting than the Oscar telecast itself. And as far as the telecast goes, why not make it more widely available? For a few years I worked at a convention which happened to be on the day the Oscars were telecast and I'd start my 2 hour drive home about 5 PM but no radio station was simulcasting the Oscars which is very talky and therefore perfect for radio. But nothing. And now they are worried about ratings in a world where there are hundreds of channels on cable and multiple streaming services (I subscribe to 4 and that is by no means all of them) where people have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows 24 hours a day. All these new rules will do is dilute what they are already doing and make it less interesting, not more interesting. So what if Best Picture is a film 95% of the audience has no interest in seeing? That's not what the Oscars is about. At least that's not what it used to be about. These new rules make me far less interested in watching the show in 2019.

E. Yarber said...

Funny hearing about the radio simulcast idea, since I listened to the NBC audio broadcast of the 1957 awards this afternoon, hosted by Fred Allen's old announcer Jimmy Wallington with the one-armed Robert Wagner doing play-by-play. MC Jerry Lewis opened the show apologizing for how long it was going to be (105 minutes). The first award was a technical prize for a guy who'd developed something called videotape. Talk about diversity... SEVEN SAMURAI went up against Edith Head in the costume category! (Both lost to THE SOLID GOLD CADILLAC). Eva Marie Saint was a presenter... does she do that EVERY year? Kirk Douglas did a remote intro from the set of PATHS OF GLORY. "Robert Rich" won Best Original Screenplay but couldn't accept the reward because he was Dalton Trumbo. Nobody ordered pizza, but during Oldsmobile ads Jerry went into the audience with a bullhorn to harass the stars (as Wagner put it).

You know, these shows could be a lot of fun if the makers went into them with the idea that they're about the AWARDS, not treating the winners like some regrettable obligatory afterthought.

On the other hand, there seems to be support for dropping the awards altogether and fashioning a new annual ritual dubbed HOLLYWOOD WE HATE YOU, three hours of pranks like throwing Ron Howard into a piranha tank followed by Martin Scorsese being pulled in half by two tractors. Those people think so much of themselves.

E. Yarber said...

Oh, and the single longest acceptance speech of '57 was Hermoine Gingold reading S.J. Perelman's written remarks. No one felt in a rush to end them.

Janet Ybarra said...

James, I agree with your overall premise that that ABC (or whatever "broadcaster" and I'm using that term loosely) find new ways to package and distribute the Oscars to provide a classy engaging show for those who care to partake.

But currently, as it sits on ABC, the Oscars are stuck in an antiquated situation where the ratings are all important for ad dollars. Unfortunately, they are chasing an audience share that will no longer exist because the broadcast networks don't have the command they did 20, 30and more years ago.

So maybe you are right, give some Oscar rights to Sirius XM radio for their listeners, give a a complete saturation daylong package to a cabler or a streaming provider. And then give ABC a 2 hour peek so casual viewers get to see the "big awards" before bed (on the East coast). So in that way, you kind of break up viewing a little like NBC parcels out the Olympics, except what the Olympics would be over 2 weeks, the Oscars would be covered throughout one day/night.

Kaleberg said...

If you've moved to streaming rather than the traditional broadcast television and movie house movies mix, you have a completely different perspective. You still watch lots of video, and some of it is quite good. You might watch on your phone or laptop, or on your 65" television set which compares favorably to 35mm and even larger film formats. You also still go to the theater to see some movies on a big screen, often in iMax and 3D.

In other words, there are two types of video, and the breakdown isn't television and movies anymore. It's stuff you watch on your own gear and stuff that's worth watching at a movie house. The Oscars haven't caught up with this. They're stuck in the old television and movie world, so there's lots of good stuff that doesn't get shown in movie houses or gets shown on a special limited release just to qualify for the Oscars. Meanwhile, there's the stuff people find it worth going to a movie house to see. That's the stuff this new award is aimed at, they just can't say that, so they say 'popular'.

If you actually care about the best picture, you have to include made for streaming video in the competition. Unlike straight-to-video movies, straight-to-streaming stuff often has serious artistic merit. If the Academy continues to limit the competition to shown-in-a-movie-house video, then it might as well have an award for the best movie that people found worth going out to see.

Janet Ybarra said...

Actually, the best awards show I've seen in years has been The Carney Awards.

The awards are to celebrate the best character actors. A given year's awardees are known ahead of time, and the ceremony is simply to fete each of the winners.

The entire broadcast, which ran this year on Cozi TV, ran I think 2 hours. It moved along fairly well and kept my attention without being bloated or being bogged down.

Johnny Walker said...

The people who like the Oscars won’t like the changes, and the people who don’t like the Oscars aren’t going to care. The worst if both worlds.

Either the Oscars mean something or they don’t. I’d like to continue believing they do.

Small note, the category is technically: “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film”. I don’t know what that means either, but it’s better than “Best Popular Film”... maybe.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the long walks, from one end of the stage to the other, that will cut 1/2 hour. Get rid of the entire production company, cast and crew coming up on stage to claim an award. That would cut another 1/2 hour.

I rather like the Popular Movie award. That would have allowed a much better movie, such as in 1997’s LA Confidential or Good Will Hunting or As Good AsIt Gets, to win Best Picture. It doesn’t have to be given every year, but Black Panther does deserve recognition for such epic popularity.

I’m one who does fast forward during the Tecnical awards because for me it doesn’t relate. Bring back the Honorary Oscar Winners to the main Broadcast. I’m not the biggest Jerry Lewis fan but he deserved more that he got.

Cut off the political speeches and put a real soap box out on the street for them to preach. If you want to make a statement, do what Marlon Brando did...refuse the award. People will remember you then.

Pam, St. Louis.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...


the best way for the Oscars to improve audience:
Make Movie Everyone wants to see!
let's take the 1980 awards. All 5 movies were in the top 40 of the box office. The winner (Kramer v Kramer) was actually the top Box office film.
In 1978, 4 of the 5 were in the top 20 of the box office with 2 in the top 5.

cadavra said...

1) Y'know, if you take out the 20 minutes of commercials each hour, the actual show would be well under three hours. Maybe they should move to HBO or Netflix.

2) Who's really at fault here? The studios, for not making more "grown-up" films, or the mass audience, which has clearly rejected them? Times change, tastes change, people change. The Miss America Pageant used to be a BFD. Now it's a joke. The country used to come to a halt each October for the World Series. Now the country just shrugs. Maybe it's time for Oscar to acknowledge as much and just play to its base, small though it may be.

Tim B. said...

I guess I've never been overly focused on the Oscars, partly because Best Picture and the other awards don't seem to honor the "good" movies (read: movies I want to see). I think the only one that really fits that category was "LOTR: Return of the King". I enjoyed "The Shape of Water" and "Birdman" and "The King's Speech", but there are few other Best Picture nominees in the last ten years that I'd care to see.

Let's see, out of the 95 films nominated in the last ten years, that I wanted to see and were great:

Avatar (great!)
Up (also great!)
District 9
The Blind Side
The King's Speech
The Help
Silver Linings Playbook
The Big Short
Hidden Figures (great!)
The Shape of Water (although I did mainly see this because it won Best Picture)

The ones that I wanted to see, and thought were pretty good:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian

And the ones out of that list that I've seen for some reason or another (sometimes years later), but were disappointments:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
THe Hurt Locker
Black Swan
Toy Story 3 (I adore Pixar films, but sadly not the Toy Story films for some reason)
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty (I have no idea why this won any awards at all)
La La Land (really? this got nominated?)

That's not a great percentage of the Best Picture nominees that I'm interested in, although more than I was expecting before I compiled the list. If it's "Arrival" and "Hidden Figures" vs. eight films I've barely heard of, which look uninteresting, and they pick one of those, why should I care about the show? When two amazing films - "Avatar" and "Up", lose to something tedious like "The Hurt Locker" (I did go back and finally see it last year), why should I put any weight on the Academy's opinion?

I'm sure they are grading on some criteria that I am not qualified to judge - but I generally know what I like, even without film school.

Is "Black Panther" the best film of the year? I'd argue that it's in the running. "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "Wonder Woman" were my judged best of last year, and the Academy went "meh". "Murder on the Orient Express" was high on my list too, and again, "meh". None won any Oscars.

Best Popular Movie? Well, that's a thought, but it's not clear what criteria they'll use to make movies eligible. I do agree that it does dilute Best Picture.

In any case, I'll be looking at the list of winners the next day. I's pretty hard to make any awards ceremony non-tedious. ;)

Henry said...

I think all the folks upset about this are way off. Sorry Ken.

First, it would be easy to determine which films are eligible for the popular film award based on box office receipts, say any film that brought in over 100 million dollars.

Second, there's no reason a film couldn't be nominated in both the old and new categories. Black Panther can be nominated for best picture and best popular film, but not the Shape of Water.

Third, making the show shorter makes a lot of sense. Simply don't show all the short film categories. No one has ever seen them or cares. And if you had a cut a few more let's get rid of sound editing and mixing too.


Anonymous said...

I guess if the Academy wanted to rid the show of any political content whatsoever, they could avoid airing the Best Documentary Short and Feature categories, or perhaps not even air the excerpts, since the titles alone would mean they had definite POVs not to mention how opinionated the winner would be on his/her speeches...

Jeff Boice said...

This was supposed to been addressed in 2009 when the Academy expanded the number of Best Picture nominees. The impetus for the expansion was the reaction to the snubbing of "The Dark Knight" and "WALL-E" in 2008. And it worked- for two years-"Up" and "Toy Story 3" got Best Picture nominations. Since then, squadoosh. So if expanding the number didn't bring about more nominations for animation or superhero films, adding a new category won't help either.

In the 70's the films with big box office numbers got the nominations. I remember in 73, we (who lived out in the boonies) saw "The Sting" "American Graffiti", and "The Exorcist". We had an interest in who won Best Picture- the big debate was "The Sting" or "Graffiti"? Hard to have an interest in the Oscars when you haven't heard of the nominees.

E. Yarber said...

Obviously, the Academy Awards had far more public interest when movies were a dominant form of entertainment instead of a side current in an increasingly streaming platform. They've also suffered from changes in format echoing those of the night talk shows, which originally featured people actually TALKING largely off the cuff before the producers got unnerved by any possibility of surprise and began planning each beat of the program. The Oscars are similarly now a series of rushed award presentations larded with promotional material written by people who apparently hate the Oscars. The last time anything truly unexpected happened at the ceremony was the Best Film mixup, and when that happened we were repeatedly assured that nothing off-script was EVER supposed to happen on the program... and never would again.

Maybe I know how hard anonymous cogs work in this business, but I can't get on board with the sentiment, "Make it three hours, remove all but the top four awards, and don't let the winners talk. (And I still won't watch it.)" If you're truly trying to celebrate the movie industry, you have to let the public appreciate all the behind-the-scenes talent whose work is taken for granted but plays a larger role in the viewers' involvement with a film than expected. Attending an Avengers movie without surround-sound is like going to a Grateful Dead concert without drugs, as many have observed to much sorrow through the tedium.

For one night the industry should thank EVERYONE who makes films happen, not just the names everyone already knows, and we all need to consider the multiple layers of effort that go into a finished production.

Diane D. said...

I never agree with all the snark about award shows every year on this blog, but Ken sure gave the right title to this post. The changes do indeed cheapen the awards, especially saving a few seconds by not airing all the categories. When you think of the time wasted on all the silly things mentioned above, and then the biggest moment in an artist’s or craftman’s life isn’t given a moment for recognition, it is just sad.

tavm said...

Hey, why not get Deadpool to host the show?!

E. Yarber said...

Of course there's not exactly a meeting of minds here. Some of us care about the idea of annually recognizing the best work in our profession, while the subject at hand is actually how to keep pulling peak advertising dollars into a walking-dead TV "event" that probably jumped the shark sometime around the Bicentennial.

Anonymous said...

Make the intentional walk to the podium automatic
Put in a pitch clock

Stuart said...

Announced today... delayed at least a year.

MikeBrian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.