How to Make Me Care About the Oscars
Once again it’s time to buzz your Oscars and declare your favourite snubbed titles, the Academy Awards are upon us. And once again we anticipate viewer numbers to be at an all time low. One bad decision has been stacked upon another. I won’t be watching, there’s little point. Revelations and trends in recent years makes it clear that they’re an award with little integrity or meaning.
Here’s what we’d need to see before I’d be interested in watching again.
Take Some Ownership of Your Identity
The Academy Awards has long been considered the highest honour a film-maker can achieve. This claim is undercut by their ceremonies obsession with being popular with the cool kids. Weak attempts to appeal to a wider audience will be discussed a bit later, but the fact is that you can’t sell yourself as above the rest when desperately trying to be accepted by the rest. Leave the popular awards to MTV and People’s Choice awards and reclaim your identity and the peak achievement in art and entertainment.
Some of your choices in how to change your public image goes beyond awful.
Be About the Film Industry
One of the more recent stunts to build up home viewer interest is the plan to shunt a view awards to the commercial breaks so they wouldn’t dare bore people. With the focus being put on celebrities, music and clothing the pointless, trifling awards of CINEMATOGRAPHY and EDITING were on the chopping block. They’re only the most unique and integral parts of the creative process and what separates cinema from other forms of art. Why give recognition to these fields?
This rapidly retracted decision was an insult to film-makers, sending the clear message that ratings and advertising slots were more important that recognising achievement. We were going to write about this but after Scorsese, Deakins and Tarantino spoke up it seemed moot.
Don’t Pretend Some Workers Don’t Exist
When we saw that we won’t the Oscars to be about the industry, we mean all of it. There are some under-appreciated roles in the business and some considered taboo to discuss in the public eye. As an example of being under-appreciated we have the artists who create title and credit sequences. This is one of the few times a film-maker can do something purely abstract and creative. It’s a shame we don’t give this work more attention.
As for hidden talents, we’ve got the stunt workers to consider. Mostly going unknown, they share the screen with the A-List celebrities, taking the falls and hits used to make the heroes more impressive. Endless praise gets heaped on any celebrity who does their own stunts, but the industry as a whole doesn’t want to draw attention to the people who do it for a living – not to mention designing the choreography, solving technical problems and ensuring safety for all involved.
But at least they get credited – body doubles have it much worse. They often don’t get credited as part of the movie despite appearing in revealing scenes on behalf of the star.
Recognise Genre Film
Due to the demographic make up of the academy it’s little wonder that they favour period and historical films, dramas and older styles of film over experimental work or a more diverse range of genre. In response to these claims the Academy has expanded its number of nominees for Best Picture in order to include a token genre film representative. More insulting is how often they’d bundle the token genre film with the token African American film.
We love Black Panther, but it is not the first superhero movie deserving of a Best Picture Oscar nomination. It’s not even the strongest entry in the series. That Black Panther earned this achievement over The Dark Knight, Logan or even The Avengers for the industry accomplishment is bananas. It emphasises that this is a weak attempt to add a political angle to the competition.
This is a repeat of Get Out being the first horror nominee is decades while films like The Shining was left unmentioned.
Restore Your Integrity
This may be the final point made, but it’s the biggest. There are endless examples of movies with the biggest marketing campaign and the biggest box office taking the big awards. Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan, Elizabeth and The Thin Red Line. Forrest Gump took the big awards from under Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. Titanic beat out the phenomenal L.A. Confidential.
There’s a reason for all this. All Academy members are permitted to vote, but they often haven’t seen all the nominees despite being provided with copies. So what do they do? They vote for best of the ones they had seen, tilting the scales in favour of the biggest box office take. Failing that members may go the most visible option, the one with the most widespread ‘for your consideration’ campaign. Then it might be public opinion, again swayed by marketing and box office.
We’re not even going to take politics into consideration here.
One simple fix is to ensure that the voting is at least informed voting. If you want to make sure Academy members are voting from even ground, at least from a position of having seen all the entries, this is easily achieved. Distribute the films to them digitally, perhaps even through a private streaming platform, and track their viewing. If they haven’t watched everything in a category, they don’t vote in it. Bada bing, bada boom, done.
Sure they might get out to see it at the movies, so provide your ticket or watch it again. At least try and pretend that this system has a little integrity.
Then maybe we will start caring again.