5 Things For Oscar To Remember Next Year For The Show!
Hey folks, Harry here - I know I've written a ton on the Oscars this year, but some of the problems with this year's show were so addleminded that I just have to address them. I might get passionately upset at the direction of how one award goes or another, but frankly... getting angry at an Oscar decision... it's what it is all about. However, generally I love the broadcast itself, but this year, this year I hated it.
Let's start with the single most obvious new problem:
1) Creating a Class System By Which To Bestow Awards Based Upon Alleged Audience Interest.
The Beauty Contestant Line-up and the Hot Peanuts delivery of Oscars to Technical, Craftsmen and Non-Feature Length Nominees was not only the most offensive decision I've ever seen at an Academy Awards broadcast - but it casts a shadow over the entire concept of those awards.
The point of the Oscar Broadcast isn't to let the Beautiful People do their Beautiful Thing. It's for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to educate the world on the myriad of talents that go into making the best entertainment, stories and visions on that silver screen near you. As Jamie Foxx said to Barbara Walters in his pre-Oscar interview, it was important for him to win first as an African-American because with so much negativity in all the forms of media, his win would be a bright spot to help inspire African-Americans around the world. Now, to another degree... Those kids, students at schools... Tomorrow's Award Winners - they're sitting at home waiting to be inspired by Oscar to go out into their field of choice - and last night - they were shown that writers - editors - cinematographers, sound mixers, sound editors... that in the shadow of the greatness that is Directors & Actors & Producers... That on their magical night, they would be herded together and asked to smile real big missing only their sash to further label them. They wouldn't be clutching the hands of their date, wife, husband, lover, family member. They wouldn't get the joy of jumping up from their seat. Shaking the hands of those around them. Running up to the stage electrified by the moment. Or to be comforted when they lost. No, if they lose... they must quietly make their way off the stage and back to their seats, empty-handed... after being paraded about.
Oh - but if you do Make-up or Special Effects... or if you happen to be the very best in your field as a short filmmaker. Even if you win. There is no stage for you. No, you'll stay in your seat and you'll get up when your name is called. You'll take 5 steps to a microphone in the aisle. You won't see Nicholson's smiling sunglassed face... you'll see the back of his head. Because you don't deserve to face the beautiful people. You get to see their backsides... unless they're cool enough to wrench around in their seats to try and find you, but why will they do that... they've got a big screen to stare at your face - but you're a gorgon, the stars dare not stare upon your face, only your reflection.
What the hell?
2) It doesn't matter how long the show goes.
For all of Oscars 'innovations of presentation' this year - they still managed to go over. So not only did they short shift many nominees, not educate the viewers in regards to the field of film, but they still went over... only they managed to humiliate and make the night less cool.
You see, on this most special night - It isn't how long the show is. It is how classy it is. How cool it is. What a show it is. This is that night where great craftsmen and actors, directors and writers... this is the night where they stand on the same stage, are all given the same amount of time. Where salary and fame isn't what it is about. It's about talent being recognized by talent. Talent being celebrated and acknowledged. Given center stage before one of the largest audiences in the world on the night where every news broadcast is waiting with baited breath to announce who just took centerstage, what did they say, who did they thank or didn't thank? The reason this year's ratings were so high wasn't because of Chris Rock or your dumb as hell decisions regarding nominees. It was because for the first time in a LONG time, the audience had NO IDEA who was going to win BEST PICTURE. Because there was no clear winner. And that audience would have sat through anything to find out, because when the audience tunes out, it's because they know who is going to win. Which is why, SWEEP shows tend to have the worst audiences.
3) BEST ORIGINAL SONG - There is something broken here!
Did you notice the complete indifference with which Prince ran through those nominees? Other than the winning song and THE CHOIR piece - the other 3 were examples of truly bad taste. But bad taste, that's not something you can mandate, or can you? Perhaps, depending on a given year's choices - there should just be 3 nominees or even no category. Now - at the same time, I'm very aware that the songs afford very real entertainment for not just the viewing audience, but the attending audience. BUT - my god. You're the ACADEMY AWARDS - if you want to really electrify the audience - create a BEST ADAPTED SONG category - which would nominate songs and their performers upon the soundtrack. THEN - you could get some amazing music up on that stage, and get some truly terrific talent up there. Because, let's face it. Sometimes the best use of song is the most memorable. After all... CASABLANCA's AS TIME GOES BY didn't get acknowledged because it wasn't new. SINGIN IN THE RAIN's "Singin in the Rain" went unawarded for the same reason. Hell, the worst song in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was the one being performed because of the way this category works. Then... by having 10 songs to chose from, you could pick 3-5 songs to perform that would most blow the audience away.
4) Accompanying Clips & Burn Ins must be mandatory!
One of the most amazing things about the Short Film categories was the micro-look at them at the Oscars. Most people in the world will never ever see those short films. It's just a sad state of affairs. HOWEVER, at the Oscar broadcast. A clip from each nominee - with a clear label stating what it was and who did it. That makes sure that the initiated in the audience will track it down and understand to some degree what was just awarded. And beyond the shorts - doing this with every nominee. A glimpse of a well edited moment, a beautifully shot scene, fantastic make-up and special fx. The costumes, the art direction. Clips must accompany all or none... and my vote goes to all. Ultimately this night is about the work. That which we see. I can not begin to express how annoying this was last night. Also - keep those burn ins stating who & what just won up on the screen during the acceptance speech. This way if you happened to turn your head for a brief 2 seconds to look at a friend or a family member's reaction... you didn't just miss the actual name or affiliation of the person speaking on stage. Especially when it's multiple people.
5) Remembering the departed.
Yo Yo Ma was amazing, but personally I found it distracting from the clips and images... Those In Memoriam sequences that most stuck with me in the past have always been the ones that made use of the talents that passed away's talent. That the only Brando we heard last night was Robin Williams' version of him as Elmer Fudd... well, there ya have it. This could have been done better.
And now for what my Audience thought You did Wrong:
Below - you'll find a sample of your audience that loyally stuck with the broadcast - hopefully they will state what they each liked and disliked about the techincal aspects of the broadcast last night, instead of the results of the awards themselves. Before I go, I'd just like to reiterate that this show needs to be under produced, not over-produced. It needs to be less about a host and more about FILM. It needs to be kept simple, elegant and classy. At least that's what Oscar Night was always about for me.