(And the Ceremony Hasn’t Even Aired Yet)
By The Nerdling
The Oscars are always inundated with controversy. Usually centered around who was or wasn’t nominated/awarded. This year, the ceremony has been plagued with outrage and disputes since August of last year. And none of it has to do with the films or performances themselves.
In an effort to win back viewers, the Academy announced some new parameters. They would be limiting the telecast to 3 hours (on average the telecast is 3 ½ hours). To do this, the Academy purposed some awards will be handed out during commercial breaks with the winner’s speeches being edited in at a later point during the ceremony. When the announcement was made, the awards not presented live were not decided on. The big snafu last August which overshadowed the other announcements was the creation of the Best Popular Film category.
The idea behind it probably had good intentions, but since the parameters of what would be considered “popular” were not defined, it was hard for industry members and film fans to get behind it.
Would the nominees be based on box office numbers? Ticket sales? Likes on social media? Top 5 films with the best scores on Rotten Tomatoes? Again, the idea isn’t a terrible one, just not explaining what the category entails was a big mistake. The creation of the new category came off as a way to not give Black Panther a Best Film nomination and this had many fans angry. For now, the Best Popular Film category has been shelved but will be visited again at a later time.
Next was the announcement Kevin Hart was going to be the host. His involvement was not met with positivity after homophobic tweets from several years ago surfaced. How Kevin Hart the addressed controversy was not good. For a time, no one was sure if Hart was going to host or not. In the end, the actor and comedian bowed out with only 6 weeks left before the ceremony airs. After scrambling to fill the host void, the Academy settled on no host (one of the few decent decisions they have made) with several actors coming in to introduce and present (including the entire cast of The Avengers).
Looking for ways to shortening the telecast, it was reported only two songs nominated for Best Original Song were to be performed during the ceremony, “All the Stars” from Black Panther and “Shallow” from A Star is Born. If you guest there was a backlash, then give yourself a gold star! As of now, all songs will be performed live.
Rumors began that the tradition of the previous year’s Best Acting winners presenting the awards for the current year was not going to happen in favor of getting popular actors to come in and present. Last year’s Best Supporting Actress recipient Allison Janney revealed on social she was not asked by the Academy to present (the post has since been deleted). Several Academy members expressed their shock and outrage on social media. Before things could get out of hand, it was announced in a series of tweets all four Best Actor winners will present, though it will be in pairs.
Finally, we get to the latest controversy. The categories whose awards would be handed out during the commercial breaks were announced. Best Make-up, Live Action Short, Editing, and Cinematography. While no one really balked at Make-up and Live Action Short, the whole of Hollywood united to express their deep displeasure in Editing and Cinematography getting shafted.
Open letters were penned and signed by all the biggest names in the industry chiding the Academy for their decision. Outrage Tweets were posted. A general air of protest started to take shape. And they were right to do so. Editing and Cinematography are the final pieces of the puzzle which turn a good film into a masterpiece. (It is interesting to note, Disney, who owns ABC, the network airing the Oscars, did not receive nominations in those 4 categories.)
Eating their words once again, the Academy announced late last week all 24 categories will be presented on air.
This guarantees the telecast will be over three hours long. But why is this such a big deal? Well, it all comes down to viewership numbers and money. The 2018 Oscars recorded the lowest viewership to date. Fewer people watching equal lower ad revenue which means less money the Academy is making. And the Oscars telecast makes up the bulk of the Academy’s income.
The Academy does more than just hand out awards. They create scholarships, fund fellowships, and education grants. They support film preservations, research, and oral history initiatives. While I understand the panic over low ratings and what it means for all the Academy does in the film industry, the Academy and ABC need to understand all live tv viewing is at an all-time low.
Unless it is a hockey game, I never watch live tv. I know most of you reading this probably don’t watch anything live either. Why would we when DVR’s, On Demand, Hulu, and YouTube let us watch what we want when we have the time?
The Academy and ABC don’t need to scramble to make the ceremony shorter or appeal to younger audiences with big name presenters. They need to think outside the box for solutions to keep themselves relevant. Partner up with streaming sites and social media to engage more movie watchers more. Get the message of what the Academy does (outside of the Oscars) out there and garner support.
But mostly they need to remember that Oscar night is about awarding achievement in filmmaking. Which means all the aspects of making a quality film need to be honored properly. And that also means creating a Best Stunt and/or Best Stunt Performer categories! The work of stunt people has been ignored for too long.
The 91st Academy Awards will air on ABC this Sunday 8pm EST/7pm CST/5pm PST.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.