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The Oscars, The Good, The Bad and the King

Is it possible that every morning, after the Oscars are done, the red carpet is folded up and the stars have all returned, I will be writing this very same article year after year, for decades to come? I certainly will be unless changes are made, and made fast. According to the New York Times, this years Academy Awards were the lowest in recorded history, and it is even reported that more people tuned in to watch man discover fire than to see the cast of Slumdog on stage winning Picture of the Year.

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s time to trim the fat. We already know the formula, the Grammy Awards did a few years ago. It’s about more performances, less awards and in turn, less drawn out speeches. I know that the Academy is about the movies, and that they feel not to honor the guys underneath is a disservice, but with a ratings drop of 9% from last year, maybe it’s time to stop being so stubborn.

The best parts of the night for me were the “2008 Yearbook,” montages, depicting scenes from the years best movies (although for the life of me I can’t understand why High School Musical 3 was included in this), and the Hugh Jackman (King for the Night) opening sequence. There’s nothing like a star singing and dancing while depicting the years best movies. Making fun of the Dark Knight and The Reader all at the same time was pure brilliance.

Here’s the solution, more performances, more quirky comedy skits by the host, and less awards! Let’s cut out all of the following out of the TV Broadcast and see what happens to the ratings:

Foreign Language Film: It’s clearly an America awards show, I’ll say that of every person in the USA .0001% of people have seen one of these movies

Short Documentary: Again, if no one sees it, doesn’t mean it’s bad, just means we don’t need to spend 5 minutes hearing the nominees followed by a speech by someone we don’t know

Sound Editing: Unless you went to school for audio engineering you have no appreciation for this amazing talent

Sound Mixing: See ‘Sound Editing’ above

Live Action Short: No need to pay tribute to what is essentially a long television show, at least not at 10:00 PM on ABC

Animated Short: Ironic that this is a competition, Pixar seems to just throw these ahead of it’s Oscar winning movies

Art Direction: It’s a respected category, but the only direction we care about during the broadcast is when the exciting stuff will happen, this certainly doesn’t help

That cuts out seven of the least cared about categories, giving some breathing room to the rest of the show. You can tell that they know these categories because they have a single presenter stand on stage for up to ten minutes, through all the speeches just to give out another award. Also looking at the musicians they could of had perform, it is sad that they did not employ their talents. Fresh off of his Super Bowl appearance, Bruce Springsteen was snubbed of his Oscar nomination for “The Wrestler,” another Academy mess up, costing them a huge chunk in the ratings without his performance.

Was it the worst Oscars I’ve seen? No. Does it have to get better in order for anyone to care next year? Yes. I come from the music world so take it from me, do what the Grammy’s did, cut the stuff that even the President of the Academy doesn’t want to see, and give us more of what we want, drama, live music and short genuine speeches.

P.S. Although I did not mention it, the best moment of the night for me was Heath Ledgers family taking his award for The Dark Knight. Heath was truly great in the role, and to see the real emotion on the faces of the biggest names in Hollywood was a really nice, and fitting end to a great actor.

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8 Legacy Comments

  • Comment by Katy posted February 23, 2009 at 23:22

    I feel a need to rage/vent about this.

    It's necessary to address the point that the Oscars celebrate movies and the Grammys celebrate music. Musical performances appropriate at the Grammys are much different than any type of performance that are appropriate at the Oscars. You cannot honestly believe that the Oscars would have better ratings if they had more comedy acts and musical performances. Save it for the VMAs–the Oscars are a respected 81-year old program. They don't need kitsch and fluff. Their purpose is to celebrate timeless, classic movies and the artists who participate in them, not to please viewers with unnecessarily trendy acts.

    (Beyonce, Zak Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Amanda Seyfried & Dominic Cooper performed together because they were all in successful musicals [eh, not so much in beyonce's case, i suppose, but she did sing etta's at last] this year–hence the last line of their performance – MUSICALS ARE BACK….thus celebrating MOVIES.)

    Your reasoning for cutting out the awards is severely flawed:

    So, American award shows shouldn't celebrate foreign films because they are….foreign? What does that say about your interpretation of Americans? Tonight I watched a documentary about the civil rights movement in the US South in the '60s and one of the Southern white supremacists said: foreigners shouldn't have an opinion on American issues [the context being the riots and police brutality, like using water hoses and violent dogs to control the crowd of peaceful demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama] because they depend on our economy for survival, and as long as that is the case, they should shut their mouths. Maybe it's a bit off topic, but it goes to show how far some take the dismissal of anything non-American.

    The shorts–just because "no one" has seen them doesn't mean they don't deserve recognition. Have you considered that being featured/nominated at the Oscars is the ultimate publicity? Think of all the giants of the film industry in the theater & viewers at home watching clips from your independent movie. Is it so out of reach to assume that maybe even a quarter of the people would be interested in seeing why these movies were nominated and even further, why one of these movies WON AN OSCAR? It's almost like sports scouting.

    I'm surprised about your problem with sound mixing, sound editing and art direction. These categories are HUGE in making a movie both watch-able and believable. How can you justify that these categories are less important or valid than best screenplay or even best song? They are all components of great movies, and need to mastered in order to have an excellent, Oscar-worthy movie. These categories often hint as to which movies are going to win big—probably because of their integral part in the finished product. If not for art direction, movies would not be visually accurate or as beautiful as they are. Sound mixing and editing? Forget them, forget talkies.

    The Academys aren't perfect. They are historically known for snubbing actors, movies and musicians. It's not a huge surprise Bruce was snubbed. If he weren't, the show would have been even longer. Also, I didn't have a problem with the speeches at all. In fact, I found this years' better than most. To be diplomatic, it was unfair to the other winners the amount of time Heath's family was able to speak. They received at least 2 minutes more than everyone else. Granted, his death was a tragedy, but there have had to be many posthumous award speeches that were not so lengthy. My favorite speech of the night was Dustin Lance Black, myself.

    There are 24 televised Oscar awards. Only 10 televised Grammy awards. Did it make either more watch-able? This is a music blog…of course the positive slant would be towards the music show.

  • Comment by Harris posted February 23, 2009 at 23:38

    The Oscars are currently and will always be the most elegant of awards shows. In no way do I think that the show needs to be dumbed down, but it does need to be made more exciting. A performance by a singer like Bruce definitely could of helped ratings.

    As far as the categories, I don’t think that these movies don’t deserve the award, they just don’t deserve up to 5 minutes of airtime on one of the most popular shows in history.

    Sound mixing is extremely important, but not even I care about it that much, so why should anyone else? It’s just not that interesting to hear someone you have never heard of give a speech about sound.

    Don’t get me started on snubbing because Clint Eastwood should go in there shooting for getting snubbed this year. I don’t have any problem with the speeches, they were not too long, and Heath’s family should of spoken for as long as they wished.

    As far as comparing the two major awards show. I am not slanted because the ratings speak for themselves. When the full ratings get reported I guarantee we will see solid difference, with the Grammy’s leading the way. The Grammy’s is very ‘respectable,’ as you say and still solid ratings.

    I will never say that all of these awards need to be cut out, just cut out of the broadcast. Things have changed in the 24 years of televised Oscars, people are looking for excitement and this show just isn’t cutting it anymore.

  • Comment by Greg posted February 23, 2009 at 23:46

    How can you not understand hsm3 being included, they fall in the same category of talentless garbage as the jonas brothers; yet when they didnt win you freaked; but now that we have crossed into a different form of media suddenly you choose to argue against the absurdly popular teeny-bopper garbage. Either both of them are included in their respective shows or neither are.

  • Comment by Harris posted February 23, 2009 at 23:51

    Ok, first of all, I’m not quite sure what you are talking about. High School Musical was not nominated for anything, and the Jonas Brothers were, clearly they are not of the same caliber in their respected fields.

    Secondly, I did not say that the cast of HSM3 was talentless, I merle said they didn’t need to be included in the performance.

  • Comment by Greg posted February 23, 2009 at 23:56

    right, im only talking about the fact that both parties participated in their awards shows. The caliber of each group can definitely be debated, saying that the jonas brothers are better than hsm doesnt really have any merit, the only thing that you can claim is popularity which is erroneous (see grammy battle). I think that although garbage, hsm needed to be included in that performance because it drove home the point that they were trying to make, the musical was back.

  • Comment by Harris posted February 24, 2009 at 00:02

    I don’t disagree with you here, I’m not quite sure your still on point to your original argument. I do support the Jonas Brothers, and I do not support High School Musical, not based on anything except the fact that I’ve heard the brothers, and liked them, and seen HSM3 and thought it wasn’t that good.

  • Comment by Greg posted February 24, 2009 at 00:06

    thats fine, i mean i dont support either. but it is clear that both are part of the same teen pop genre, and if one organization recognizes one to participate be it being nominated or performing, then so does the other.

  • Comment by Harris posted February 24, 2009 at 00:08

    I agree with you there, my issue is that the Jonas Brothers performed because they were nominated, High School Musical 3 should of been nominated in order to invoke a performance