Friday, February 19, 2010

I Want You All To Be Alert...

I want you all to be alert.

I am concerned, perhaps needlessly, about matters in The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

(And for once I'm not talking about Meryl Streep losing a 14th time).

First we lost the honorary Oscar, then we heard the Oscars compared to reality television, then they started saying that we, the audience, don't like the teary long speeches... (huh?) and now, no song performances? I have to speak up. I wrote a piece about it for Tribeca Film.

I have so many doubts.
*

34 comments:

Terence said...

I was shocked that I agreed with everything you had to say!

I mean who wouldn't want to see Marion Cotillard re-enact that strip tease? That was the best scene in Nine and would have made for a great performance.

Anonymous said...

Ah, This is exactly what I was looking for! Clears up
a few contradictions I've been hearing.

Franco Marciano said...

WHAT!? No honorary Oscar for Lauren Bacall?? Oh dear..I may have a gay meltdown...

They should move most if not all of the tech film categories to the other Academy broadcast and bring back group presentations for acting categories. It was fun guessing what stars would present next.

Robert said...

I admit I've always been a fan of nixing the musical numbers, but that was so the speeches and honorary winners had more time (not for other dance numbers).

It may be cruel but from a ratings standpoint if something had to be moved to a different ceremony it should have been the Shorts. Either that or they should be made available for everyone to see beforehand (or download for a few bucks or something)

I do like the montages, but (and I say this as a film history lover) the viewing public doesn't want a history lesson. Maybe 1 history montage, and then 2 more at most ("Year in film" encompassing all films, not just the nominees and "Year in performances." it would be cool to see Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, etc get some clipage)

And yes they could keep the musical numbers to break up the tedium but something interesting needs to be done with them. It's either always big bad interpretive dance number or low key solo guy with guitar. Yawn and Yawn.

Marsha Mason said...

The song perfs I could usually do without, but I did want to see Bridges sing "Crazy Heart" on the night he won.

billybil said...

The only objection I have to these proposals is the thing about long teary speeches. THAT is an error on their part. Sure, we may not want to see some unknown person cry but when it comes to the big wins - the recognizible faces - having them be moved and speak movingly are some of the most cherished moments in the history of the Oscars. And don't think the big names don't know it. You think the nominees don't know what sort of clever or shocking or emotive moment they're going to create? Ha! Seeing big stars and big, successful media moguls get all teary is what helps give the Oscars their value in the eyes of us "normal" folk. Not having those moments will truly harm the Oscar broadcast - even if some people like to sit back and scoff and complain about them - they still want them to happen! It's like being hugged and kissed by your mother! Otherwise, the Oscars really will become like every other award show! Ack!!

Btw - having the nominated songs played over clips from their corresonding movies sounds like a great way to handle them. Too many performances of the songs in the past have put me to sleep!!!

BrianZ said...

This bugs me so much. Keep the speeches long!

billybil said...

Good article Nate! You went a long way to convincing me I want the songs back too - but only if they're performed memorably (duh, right?). And, again, if these are the most important movie awards on the planet, then when someone wins one we should at least give them a chance to gush. Jesus!

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jimmy said...

1. ratings have been down with virtually everything in the last 10-15 years. 2. the oscars ratings are down for several reasons: a plethora of other awards shows that precede it - how many times do you want to watch jeff bridges win essentially the same award. The general public does not care about the hurt locker / or precious / or julie / julia. no one cares if tilda swinton is nominated for an award.

jimmy said...

accept the fact that the oscars are no longer the super bowl. Bring back the debbie allen dancing - JUST kidding. So -produce the show for upscale people who love movies. The acting category winners can talk as long as they want - that's what people want to see. can u imagine if halle berry was cut to :45 seconds. Keep the documentary short subject winners to 45 seconds. I love historic clips from old movies and past oscar ceremonies. horrbile to get rid of honorary winners - what a shame - we would have missed barbara stanwyck winning her honorary. i get bored with the song nominees - it's alsways some disney cartoon / or dolly parton / phil collins type song.

jimmy said...

these are some couples i would love to see paired together - or some presenters. kim novack; Louis Jordan & Leslie Caron (oldest surviving best picture stars / gigi). Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty. Diane Keaton & woody allen. Patty Duke & Hayley Mills (this would never happen). robt redford / streisand. Thelma & louise. Kathleen turner / william Hurt. Julie andrews & Christopher Plummer & the kids; Cher & Meryl streep. why is ben afflecks wife on there every year - augh.

NATHANIEL R said...

jimmy -great ideas. i don't understand why they don't use classic movie pairings more often. it's not like every one is 14 and only watches reality tv.

no offense to any 14 year olds reading ;)

whitney said...

I'm SO glad they're getting rid of the musical numbers. But I like long speeches and the honorary oscars. I think I'm just a total old lady.

Victor said...

Dear Academy,
Please stop with the changes.
The Oscars are the Oscars for a reason. It is long, and it will always be long. Stop caring so much about the TV show ending before midnight on the east coast and realize that everywhere else in the world its not midnight: is the middle in the afternoon in Australia and Japan, its morning in most part o Europe and people still watch. You always claim that you want to be more international, so forget about the running time because it only matters for those on east coast. Forget about the ratings, they will never be what they were back when there was no internet and 300 channels on TV.
Just focus on the people who love films, who will watch the show no matter how boring, silly, cheesy it is or stupid your choices can be.
We love the Oscars. We will watch. Just stop all this bullshit.

Evan said...

In the Academy's defense, I often think that the amount of time devoted to the honorary Oscar is too long. I don't see why they couldn't have just pared it down a bit, but I do see why something needed to change.

As for the songs, I'm always underwhelmed by the nominated songs. The songs are almost never showstoppers and when they are, they're usually not that good anyway. The best songs, like this year's The Weary Kind, tend to be too mellow for the event. Thus, I can understand their thought process: "Who watches the Oscars to hear a few B-list songs? Cut."

That said, I do agree totally that cutting things left and right for ratings, especially to insert other things which have no business being in the show (SYTYCD), is soulless and probably not that effective. The only real way to increase ratings will be to get people excited about the movies nominated for the awards. This means either nominating different movies or somehow finding a way to make people care about the ones that they do nominate. Since the Academy will never choose the former option (nor should it), then they will have to find a way to make people care, and that job must be done prior to the awards ceremony-- not during the actual telecast.

brandz said...

it will all be worthwhile when we see Meryl Streep win her third Oscar.

Colin Low said...

They're not removing the nominated songs from the telecast; they're giving them Oscar clips the way the actors get theirs. What's wrong with that?

Billy Held An Oscar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Billy Held An Oscar said...

If I do not have to listen to Beyonce growling and screeching her way through a best song medley then by all means drop it.

Burning Reels said...

Other than sound editing (why is there 5 nominations for this category?!), song is probably the least valued but at least these performances gave them a little more context and additionally promoted the films to a wider audience - think how much a lovely Crazy Heart performance would have increased it's sales and how someone else could share in the versatility of Jeff Bridges and maybe they'd then watch Fabulous Baker Boys and so on...

It is a shame but then i'm still very peeved at the music branch for their Greenwood and Wrestler snubs - who isn't?!

Rick said...

I thought your article was terrific... I agree with all you stated.

I,too, agree with you, JIMMY, about the pairings.

xixi said...

I think the biggest problem with the Oscars does not lie with its style or format.

It has simply been prognosticated to death. Between the many televised precursor awards and the ever growing numbers of Oscar pundits and bloggers, every last ounce of tension and suspense has been flogged out of the ceremony even before it begins.

It is sobering to read the Reuters headline: Streep, Bullock Provide Rare Oscar Suspense.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=9884060

Why is suspense rare? Why would we want to tune in to see the same expected winners triumph?

Robert said...

I really will miss the best song performances, especially in this year when the nominees were all quite good. However, this is probably all the fault of last year's mess of a Best Song medley...trying to mix Jai Ho and Down To Earth? Yikes.

Lucky said...

As long as they don't try to mix the nominated songs, it's fine. And although I liked watching them being performed, just consider this: Why can't nominated scores be shown as well? or why can't we have a fashion show for the Best Costume Design nominees? We can't have it all, I guess.

What I also find weird is the dropping of the 5 actors presenting the acting nominees. It was such a new idea, and people seem to like it. Anyway, at least we'll have the clips back.

I thought the ratings had increased last year (the lowest year being 2008 for the 2007 nominees), so why so much change? Things seemed to be getting better.

And lastly, something must be done concerning the shorts. There are like 4 categories for shorts, and people can't watch them anywhere (if they can, they certainly don't, or don't know how). If something has to be fixed is the problem with ths categories, either remove them from the telecast (like they did with the Honorary Oscar...) or make them more interesting by allowing the public to know the nominees.

Glenn Dunks said...

Lucky, they did a fashion show of sorts a few years ago (2007 when Devil Wears Prada, Golden Flower, The Queen, Marie-Antoinette and Dreamgirls were all nominated). Notsomuch a fashion show per se, but they featured the costumes on the stage as the presenters (Hathaway/Blunt) presented them.

They also did an original score presentation in 2001. I seem to remember Yo Yo Ma on stage performing segments from each of the nominated score (Crouching Tiger won).

Getting rid of the song presentations is disappointing, especially this year when they're all either good or could be staged really well (I don't like the Paris 36 movie, but it'd be a welcome change of pace for the show with a big Parisian dance number). They help break up the show and as Nathaniel points out in his article there have been some great numbers performed (one of the best is also the simples, Bruce Springsteen performing "Streets of Philadelphia"). I mean, hello, slow motion car crash victims to the tune of "In the Deep"!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

When I heard the news earlier in the week about the songs I WAS SO PISSED. I'm even doubting if I want to watch this year since they're just getting in incensed. I do think songwriting is a crucial film since without these songs each of those films would be less. One of my main draws this year since I'm so tuned out was to see Anika and Marion perform and "So You Think You Dance". What the f***? Why are the trying so hard to make the masses watch this? They already have their own goddamn zillion awards!

@Glenn they also performed the original scores in 05 which was a nice touch.

Kirby said...

The live action and animated shorts are available to the public now. In the past few years, they've been released theatrically in major markets and then available soon after for purchase on iTunes.

I think the big stumbling block for the Oscar show is this: it's a show about movies that has to be presented theatrically (as in a stage performance) for the audience at the Kodak while at the same time serving as a television show for everyone else watching around the world.

It's a tough balancing act with those three mediums, one that (in my opinion at least) was achieved with last year's show. The problem with the show in the past (and, it appears at this point, with this year's), is that the producers are leaning too much to it being a "TV show", one that has to draw in the ratings, which means it has to appeal to the widest demographic possible.

Which means traditions like the Honorary Oscars and the Best Song performances get tossed out the window because Joe Public doesn't care about them ... even though he is not going to watch the show anyway because it's always "too long and too boring" and "The Hangover" wasn't nominated any way.

Focusing too much on trying to get people who don't want to watch to tune in is the mistake they have made in the past and the one that they appear to be making with this year's show.

Being an Oscar fan, I hope I'm wrong about this year's show, but frankly, it's not looking very promising.

Marshall1 said...

As I've said in another blog, I think it will be great if the producers weave the songs into a coherent scene (maybe includes themes from nominated best pictures) and perform by some of the best singers/actors/performers we have so it will be more memorable instead of just parading the songs one after another, without meaning. But of course, that will be too much brain work for the Shankman team. All they care about are ratings and reality shows and dancing (not that dancing is not cool). So is this the People's Choice Award we are watching???

RiccardoT said...

No songs this year?! I'm speachless!
Are they crazy or what???

Bryan said...

I'm so tired of the ratings game. They need to gear the Oscars toward film lovers-- stop worrying about trying to attract a large swath of the public when they're interest is superficial at best and flat-out ignorant at worst. So what if only the people writing on this blog end up watching. We're their most devoted followers, and that should be taken into consideration.

GB said...

I can't believe that we're losing the song categories for some damn hip-hop dancers doing interpretive dance to "Inglourious Basterds". F you, Adam Shenkman.

poopoo said...

Hiring some dancers that competed in dance show is not a "reality TV show" tie-in. Nothing in that link suggested that SYTYCD would even be mentioned during the oscars, so this a real cheap shot from you. Frankly, if the oscars were to actually have a SYTYCD caliber dance number, it would probably be the highlight of the evening.

NATHANIEL R said...

poopoo -- it's not me that compared the Oscars to reality television. That was Adam Shankman himself.

so even if i'm exaggerating waht's coming (possibly)... they're the ones that want us to make the connection.

i'm not comfortable with the connection. The Oscars are supposed to be about movies. Not what everyone likes to watch on television.