The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took several desperate moves on Tuesday as a way to combat shrinking ratings of the annual Oscars telecast.
First, a new category will be introduced that honors outstanding achievement in popular film. This is to address, yet again, the frequent complaint that the Academy overlooks popular films such as The Dark Knight and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The lack of nods for Best Picture and Best Director for the former were partly responsible for backlash that caused the expansion of the Best Picture category from five nominees to as many as ten earlier this decade.
Since that change was put in place, major improvements in terms of the variety of films nominated have been made. Last year, for example, box office blockbusters such as Dunkirk and Get Out were nominated for Best Picture along with low budget gems such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Lady Bird. Yes, there were still complaints that Wonder Woman was snubbed completely. That is problematic, especially when one considers its exclusion from the technical categories. Those snubs won’t be prevented by adding an Achievement in Popular Film category. It also opens the door for popular films that deserve to be recognized among the years’ ten best (Black Panther comes to mind) to not receive the consideration they are due, since a separate category will now exist for them.
One good change that the academy announced is that they are vowing to keep the telecast to a maximum of three hours long. That is an excellent decision, but one of the ways they have decided to achieve that goal is the worst change out of the entire lot: Some of the winners will not be announced live.
It’s not hard to guess which categories will be deemed less important and announced during commercial breaks, with edited versions of the acceptance speeches to air later on. For dedicated lovers of film and the talented, hard working individuals who work behind the scenes to make every magical moment, this is a slap in the face. Film Editors, Sound Mixers, Sound Editors, Composers, Art Directors, Costume Designers, Makeup Artists, Visual Effects Artists and Writers deserve to celebrate their victory live, and uncut, just as much as Actors, Directors and Producers do. By choosing to hand out some awards during the commercial break, the academy has chosen dumb skits, overlong musical numbers and sincere but often repetitive and over the top political statements over recognizing some of the artists who speak to us about important issues in far more effective ways than usually comes from the mouth of whoever hosts the telecast.
Who is the winner as a result of these changes? Certainly not lovers of film.