Friday, June 26, 2009

Academy Determined To Undermine Self

Just as the news of "10 Best Pictures" finally began to sink in the Academy announces a possibly even more idiotic move -- no honorary awards presented on the big night. As Edward Copeland points out, this means Old Hollywood legends will no longer be recognized for their contributions to the industry. No Hersholt. No Thalberg. No Honorary. They get a separate dinner. Aside from a few saints and cineastes among their ranks, Hollywood is already terrible about preserving, honoring and acknowledging their rich history (unless they're trying to cannibalize it for pointless remakes) The special prizes were one of the only ways that younger audiences could connect today's stars and movies to the rich and important history of the cinema. Sometimes they stupidly included too many of these specials, inflating the running time but at least one honorary award should be there. It's like a family reunion. The grandparents have to be in the photo along with the little children... that's the only way you get a complete portrait of the family.

The Academy seems to have lost all confidence in itself and for what rational reason? It's inevitable that ratings would decline. No matter what changes were made, they would never not have declined. It's a different time. There are hundreds of channels and hundreds of televised events where you can gawk at celebrities. Rather than trying desperately to recapture something that cannot be recaptured and to convince people who don't care about awards or movies to tune in (helpful clue: they won't) how about respecting your history by making a broadcast that pleases people who care about the things you're rewarding. There's still a lot of those people.

Want to shorten the broadcast? IT'S EASY. WE'VE ALL BEEN SAYING IT FOR YEARS: CUT 2 or 3 OF THOSE ENDLESS MONTAGES! Bingo. Saved ten minutes right there with no damage done to the integrity of the night. You'll probably read elsewhere about changes to the song category. They aren't that drastic all told. It's similar to the voting structure already in place only a bit stricter and you might have years with only 2 nominees instead of 3 to 5. Given that they didn't even consider "The Wrestler" (great song) good enough to qualify with last year's lower standards... I can't imagine what horrors they'll perpetrate now. I don't understand why the category isn't cancelled altogether. Song writing really has very little to do with the craft of filmmaking. Bingo! You've saved another 15 minutes from the show with no damage done to the integrity of the night. I've already saved the Academy 25 minutes of air time with no drastic changes.

David Poland is right
This is classic over-responding to a problem in one case and crazy responding to another.
If they announce that they're going to cut the tech awards like Costume Design or Art Direction I'm going to fucking lose it. I feel like we're on suicide watch and the Academy offices are overflowing with razors and pills.
*

43 comments:

Nate said...

I feel like they are trying to appeal to the tweens and that's not what the Oscars are for.

That is why you have things like The Kids Choice Awards etc. Next they are going to have the public vote on who wins.

Arkaan said...

More people watch the Oscars than watch the People's Choice Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, etc etc etc. Why do they think that is? This should be a facetious question, but it is no longer. What does AMPAS/The governing body, genuinely believe attracts people to the oscars

Pablete said...

My thoughts and yours coincide quite completely regarding this matter, Nathaniel.

I upsets me terribly to see that the greatest art made in the USA, true artistic masterpieces made in the world of cinema, is not being well preserved. Most American people of my generation do not know about the art that their own country has produced. HIgh schools should teach Art in the USA.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving it.lol Now maybe people wouldn't be so hardcore during oscar season. Because I've stopped caring about the Oscars a long time ago, simply because it makes no difference to me who wins what. I'll still love my fave films of the year and have films that I don't like irregardless of how many oscars they win.

Pablete This really doesn't diminish the quality of the films, but the awards ceremony. I don't think art should be a competition.



Lisa

adelutza said...

@Lisa
This was the whole point of the post. There are people who care about the Oscars and people who don't care. As you yourself say, you don't, so really the fact that other people get hardcore or not should not affect you in any way.

Glenn Dunks said...

This is getting ridiculous. Didn't the ratings to UP this year?

Anonymous said...

adelutza

But it does, I love film and most of the best movies come out during Oscar season. So I obviously go to a lot of film sites and unfortunately during that time people love to get heated and talk about the oscars. Which annoys me. So sorry that you guys feel bad about this, but I am elated and hope that people wouldn't be so into it.

Lisa

NicksFlickPicks said...

Holy F***ing ****. Fine, yeah, it's a tempest in a teapot, we all make it too important. But this is awful.

Cold comfort: I doubt it will last. It will offend too many elites in the older and potentially Honorary crowds, and I doubt the public thinks this is the best way to cut things down anyway.

Maybe they should just make the Oscars like the Pulitzers. Everyone who truly cares finds out who wins anyway. Get it off TV, or at least off network TV, if that's the only way to keep the event "real" for the people it's really for—i.e., the nominees and the moviemakers.

NicksFlickPicks said...

The ONLY way to recuperate this and still make film history relevant to the young'uns who otherwise will feel no connection to it or get no access to it through mainstream culture is for the "black-tie dinner" to get its own TV deal - like the AFI Lifetime Achievement ceremony or the Kennedy Center Honors. I can see where that could be win-win: the Honorary Awards don't get shoe-horned in as codicils to Slumdog's big tacky night of victories, etc., and the Honorary recipients get the extended tributes they deserve.

But will ABC or even PBS block off an hour of time so that we can watch Gena Rowlands and Caleb Deschanel on "This Is Your Life," with Oscars for dessert? Probably not.

Juno101 said...

Personally I think its a good thing. I didnt like the honorary award, what was the point? Giving someone a award for what they used to be. Good job! Now that your old we can honor you. Shouldn't they have been honored around thier time back then? as a teenager interested in movies trying to get involved with the oscars I don't want to see a montage of people I don't know that are probably dead. I have no connection. Its not like the night was already fun so its okay to add a couple boring filled minutes in it. my mother doesn't usually even know them. its unnecessary to me. They had their time so why celebrate again? I might be alone in this but that's how I see it.

Curious said...

I agree with everything you say, but the Oscar show really isn't about film any more, it's about TV. It's about how many people watch it and what age catagories watch it and how much money can they make from each annual telecast. If the Oscars were about movies and the art of making them, then they would still have them in a hotel somewhere with a dinner and everyone getting drunk like they did back in the 30's and 40's.

Morgan said...

I was really disheartened by the news about the Honorary Awards. I don't know a lot about film history and I'll admit that I have often gotten up to go to the bathroom during the long presentation/speech, but it's just so unbelievably disrespectful and tasteless to not let the old legends have their moment in the spotlight. As my mother said when I told her, all of these people are going to be old someday, too, and probably significantly less accomplished -- how are they going to feel when they aren't the focus anymore and get thrown out into the cold?

What the Oscars have (or used to have) that nobody else could claim was ultimate prestige. That's not to say that they get things right very often, but they had their cornerstone. Even if most people in the country don't follow the awards race closely, the Oscar brand does mean something to most people. That is the only thing they have that no other organization can lay claim to -- why on earth would they jeopardize that? It's throwing away what could potentially be the last valuable commodity that they have. It just doesn't make sense.

And I agree about pissing off the only sector of people who actually give a shit -- most of the people I know, who don't pay much attention to this sort of thing, didn't have much of a reaction, while my cinephile friend and I, who go full-out crazy during Oscar season, were practically spitting with rage. Don't piss off the only people who still give a rat's ass about your ceremony!

Encore Entertainment said...

This is some serious bullcrap. These people are getting ridiculous, I understand the producers want people to watch the show, but so what if the ratings aren't high? And imagine them giving all the production awards in private. The acting and directing and picture will be televised, along with animated. They'll squash foreign language, and have private awards for shorts. That would surely be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I probably won't actually notice that this is missing from the telecast. It will shorten it, which is good. But as you mentioned, less montages would be the best. At any rate, I'm really glad I got to see Robert Altman win an honorary Oscar. I loved that. It would be a real shame if I never saw anyone win one ever again. If I never saw David Lynch accept an Oscar.
-Speel

Anonymous said...

Or Mia Farrow. Damn, people are going to start to make lists of awesome people who will never win Oscars now.
-Speel

Mike said...

If they try to remove even ONE of the tech awards from the broadcast, there will be hell to pay.

gabrieloak said...

I think the next crazy thing the Academy should do is have a rule that if you've won two Oscars in the same category, you have to wait a certain amount of years before you can be nominated again in that category.
That would solve the Swank problem.

AL said...

They'll still have them on the main telecast, but just in an abbreviated form. The dinner celebrating the honorary winners won't be televised, but it'll be like the Science & Tech awards. I could see it being a blow to Oscar purists, but changes were coming whether we liked it or not. I don't think the change is terrible, but if there's even more changes in store, I'm leery at least.

AL said...

And this hasn't been mentioned yet, but they've also tweaked the Original Song category too. If no song reaches the 8.25 minimun threshold, then no award will be given that year. If only one makes that number, then the runner-up with the next highest number is nominated and only two nominees will be in the race. It use to be that at least three had to make it in but no more than five. Those times where it was only three, I think those three all made that required score, but they might not have.

Krauthammer said...

I didn't care about the last one because hey, more movies, but this one really sucks.

Someone1984 said...

IMO it's a very good decision. Maybe - finally!- they will recognize more people deserving for honorary awards. Why not to give one Hersholt, one Thalberg and one honorary Oscar every year? It wasn't possible earlier (because of the time of the ceremony) but will be possible now.

Ian said...

I'd never want to see them outright drop the song category. They've picked a mix of clunkers, but there were some classics in there too. It's one of those traditions I'd never want to see changed I guess. And I love the breaks that the song numbers provide on the telecast. It was a real disservice to truncate the songs to a medley this year though, b/c nothing really got its due, and then that horrible mash-up at the end. That year where they did all five nominees back to back medley was a nice presentation.

The initial scoring change was designed to reward songs that had more relevance to the actual films themselves instead of just tacked on end credits songs. That's where Springsteen fell short this year. He was voted for on two prongs -- the song itself and its use in the film, and that places songs that play over black screen credits at a disadvantage. You have to have flashy credits or dance numbers to get them to notice now. Sad, b/c his song was brilliant, but those are the rules as they're set out. Two nominees would be funny to see happen. It's so uninspiring, and a slap in the face to the other contenders who weren't deemed good enough not b/c of a lack of talent, but over rule technicalities.

jimmy said...

stupid stupid....just a shame....more jack black-types on the oscars & no honorary moments like when barbara stanwyck finally got one (it's on youtube), henry fonda, sidney poitier, myrna loy, robert redford, sophia loren. They want more martin lawrence & less Blake edwards.

NATHANIEL R said...

oh and jumping way back in this thread. yes Glenn the ratings went up last year.

pablete about arts education: i fully believe that more people would care about the oscars if there was ANY film education in America outside of colleges. Part of the reason Americans have no sense of history and are so often suspicious of "art" and adamant that only entertainment matters [tangent: even noticed how people who are obsessed primarily with blockbusters are always shouting "ELITIST" at the Oscars and other people who love other types of films when generally people who love other types of film also enjoy blockbusters but the same is sadly not true in reverse. So who is elitist?... albeit not in the strict definition of the form) is partially because we have such sorry arts education in this country. Art should be for the masses...

some people will seek out information on their own of course -- the Oscars are invaluable this way for many baby movie buffs who get interested in Oscar history first which leads them to cinema love in general.

In my opinion the world would be a much better place if the film industry would fraction of THE TINIEST PORTION of each year's blockbusters --even one charity donation of two hours worth of Transformers grosses perhaps -- to finance promote and educate cinema history. Maybe an annual roadshow tour with a theme. Take two fully restored movies on the road each year with celebrity introductions in each city. Show up to this restored screening of, say, DODSWORTH and Jeff Bridges introduces it or whatever (totally random examples) or RED DUST and have young hollywod show up with Gable moustaches and Harlow platinum do's to promote it.

Maybe i'm an idealist / optimist about this one topic but if Hollywood would band together and view themselves as a team a little more and promote their own history and put some of their insane profits into film education i believe that the dividends would be huge: today's stars might be a little less ignorant about their place in the genealogy of the movies (i don't even want to think about how few classic movies today's young actors watch... and what they could learn from there -- even things that would benefit them financially, career and publicity wise -- are many) and more people would grow up caring about entertainment history and you'd probably boost Oscar ratings too down the line.

omg. i'll shut up now. sorry. this really got me going. AMPAS is just maddening.

NATHANIEL R said...

mylast comment was riddled with thought changes resulting in grammatical and word errors but am too tired to correct.

BACK TO MORNING COFFEE.

Edward Copeland said...

I heard someone say the other day that the tech categories will always be on the show because the Academy bylaws require it. Maybe someone should sue to take broadcast rights away from ABC since they are now owned by Disney and that's a perceived conflict of interest.

adelutza said...

I completely agree with The Oscars making people love cinema in general. That's how I started. In the country I was born, because of the time difference I would wake up in the middle of the night to watch the Oscars and dream that one day I would actually get to see all those movies that took prizes. ( on a side note now things are reversed: i dream of one day getting to see all these Cannes' films). But that's how I started to actually look into films and eventually love them and think about them as more then just an entertainment form. So I think that Oscars should continue to be just that: a prestigious show that gets to be seen all around the world,where the ratings are always high.

Arkaan said...

June101, not knowing the winners of the honorary award doesn't make you look good. The winners include titans of filmmaking like Jean Renoir and Fredrico Fellini. They include Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. If you don't know who they are, LEARN ABOUT THEM. We live in the information age, you have a month before the oscars between the announcements. It's not difficult to find out who these people are. If you're genuinely a fan of film, you owe it to yourself.

I don't know who many of the sound people are, but I wouldn't begrudge them their moment. They help make the movies the terrific entertainments they are.

The oscars are about honoring the present, celebrating the past and giving us hope for the future. I wouldn't give up Stanley Donen's graceful speech ("Heaven... I'm in heaven.") or Sidney Poitier's high minded gibberish etc.

I just don't understand the goal with this maneuver.

Michael W. said...

I was kinda annoyed when there was no Honorary Oscar this year. I have always liked those moments.

But really, if the Academy now decides to present a Thalberg, a Hersholt and an Honorary Award EACH year, I actually think it's a really good idea to set a night aside for those three awards and focus on the people who will receive them.

I have never really understood why one of the awards has been given one year and not the next and the other one year but not the next. If there will be a recipient of each award every year from now on I think doing it like this is fine.

Remember that the Academy has many more events every year than just the Oscars and a night like that would be great for everyone involved. It would also mean that more time could be spend on each person and not just a 4-5 min. presentation and 2-3 min. speach.

The only problem for those of us who wants to see the people getting these awards is that maybe it won't be shown on Tv. Maybe the Academy could edit a program from the evening and put on their website. I think that would be a good idea.

And why I thnk this doesn't suck at all I have already mentioned. It will be a great night for the people involved and I really do think that the Academy should pay more attention to the people in the business than us geeks :D

brianmaru said...

My mom will hate this news. My date will not. However, my mom will maybe not watch now. My dad will never watch anyways.

LaMariMari said...

I'm all for the recipients of honorary oscars getting a dinner in their honour. But why can't they do it a few days before the ceremony and actually give out the award on the big night itself? It's supposed to be Hollywood's biggest feast, and the people honoured for their careers deserve their 10 or so minutes at the ceremony, dammit!!! Nowadays the academy allows Vanessa Hudgens and Miley Cyrus to fill up a seat in the Kodak, but crap on the people that made Hollywood great.

NATHANIEL R said...

brianmaru EXACTLY MY POINT. the people who don't care, don't care. Stop trying to cater to them.

know thine audience!

John T said...

Yeah, I don't understand this AT ALL. It's like if the Super Bowl started to have play-by-play contributions from the Jonas Brothers or the Tony's cut some musical numbers to make room for more basketball stars or CNN did a show featuring D.L. Hughley...but I digress.

The point is, it's film fans that love this show-yes, if the show had nominated The Dark Knight last year, tweens and young men probably would have shown up more so, and yes, I can deal with the inevitable vomit-inducing appearances by stars of other genres like Beyonce and Miley Cyrus. But cutting this means cutting milestone moments in the Academy history-Charlie Chaplin's standing ovation, Myrna Loy from her home, Alfred Hitchcock finally winning an Oscar, the uncomfortable Elia Kazan speech, etc. Cutting this means cutting those moments we fell in love with the Oscars. Sid Ganis, you should be ashamed.

I do, however, take aim at eliminating Best Original Song, Nathaniel-I'd argue that Over the Rainbow, When You Wish Upon a Star, the Theme to Shaft, My Heart Will Go On, and Falling Slowly have contributed just as much to the mystique of the cinema as any other aspect of the screen.

As for the montages, keep it to one or two (I like the idea of a young cinephile seeing Claudette Colbert's leg or Brando's "Stella!" for the first time and wanting to check it out), and then you're set. And, for crying out loud, pay him whatever he wants and bring back Billy! There's your ratings spike!

Pablete said...

Thank you, Lisa!

I know that an Oscar does not enhance the quality of a movie, but the ceremony and the receiving of a such award certainly contribute to make a film and/or artist reach vast, very vast numbers of the audience.

Cristhian said...

The fact that many great people have only been awarded an Honorary oscar in their lifetime, besides putting great work through the years is just insane: Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Jean Renoir, Groucho Marxs! I was just going through the list of recipients and all of them amazing people who help create what and how we dream. it's terrible this people are being swept under the rug, very sad.

gabrieloak said...

It won't be long before the public will vote for one of the Oscars like the People's Choice Awards. BAFTA has one of those awards, Oscars can't be far behind.

John T said...

The day the people start voting on the Oscars is the day it is ruined-lest we forget, the tweens (whom the Academy is catering to) voted Twilight the year's best film.

TroyBoy said...

They should never have invited Miley Cyrus to join the Academy.

This is bullshit.

Mr. Movie Geek said...

PREACH IT, NATE!

You're absolutely right about the changes. They're ridiculously chosen and should be cutting more of their filler, like the s-t-u-p-i-d montages than actual parts of the ceremony that hold...you know...merit. The Academy's credibility was already at a slipping down slowly with their choices in regular categories alone, and now they just seem to be plummeting down further and further with each new terrible decision.

gabrieloak said...

It's amazing that all the talents in the film industry come up with such a mediocre show year after year. Though I did like parts of this year's telecast more than in the past because you could at least see the producer's trying. They really need to stop having presenters that usually appear on the MTV Awards--it's not like thousands of teens are watching the Oscars anyway.

NoNo said...

You know I DID always wonder why the Oscars didn't have a foundation like the Grammys do. But the Grammys would probably have a bigger budget as it's way easier to become a member of their academy and they have more members. I mean we criticize them for creating montages explaining how they vote during the ceremony because it's not the time or the place for it.

Instead of using Sidney Poitier, Alfred Molina, Charlie Kaufman, and Antoine Fuqua to talk about their favorite Oscar moments and place them on youtube. Why not have them hold panels or visit schools. Hell, you could do it during the oscar season and invite actors who have oscar buzz to do it as a form of campaigning. I'm sure Anne Hathaway would have love to talk to children about the magic of Judy Garland when the film is released. It's good for the studios (publicity, campaigning), the actors and the academy. You could easily get costume designers, art directors, cinematographers to do the same.

I'm sure PBS would do a one hour show for the honorary awards and when the academy renews it's concert they could probably muscle it in their contract. Although, they probably would do something like that in the summer when there's nothing on TV.

I hope the next Academy president will be someone more dynamic...and intelligent. Someone who loves movies as much as the oscars.

Jacob said...

I worry about this, too. I think the Academy needs something more daring if it wants to be taken seriously by the general public. Additions is what it needs, not subtractions.

Point of inquiry:

Can an actor/actress get nominated for Best Actor/Actress or Supporting Actor/Actress for a voice-over, voice work, like in an animated film? I'm simply wondering if the rules prohibit this. If an actor can get nominated/win for a non-speaking role, why couldn't they get nominated for an all-speaking role?

I say this because some of the best performances the past few years, in my opinion, have been voice-overs. Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo is one example, but a more recent example would be Ed Asner in UP!

Not that such a nomination would gain any traction, but if something like this were to happen, I think it would really get a younger audience motivated to tune in. Or perhaps the Oscars should consider an award for voice-over work, so that Hollywood elite are more inclined to make GOOD animated films, as opposed to Ice Age 3. :)

Arkaan said...

Jacob, there's no rule against it.