Monday, February 23, 2009

Sepinwall on TV: Oscar-cast post-mortem

I have a rough cut of tomorrow's column up on the NJ.com, in which I take a longer look at how the Oscars went from a TV perspective:
"I don't know what it looks like on television," "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle said late in Sunday night's Oscar telecast, "but in the room, it's bloody wonderful."

On television, it wasn't quite so wonderful. Some of the changes instituted after last year's lowest-rated-Oscars-ever worked, and some of them didn't, but no amount of cosmetic tinkering can fix two fundamental problems with the modern Oscars: the show is much too long, especially since the extended run-up of other awards shows takes away all the suspense from the main event, making it feel like a 3 1/2 hour rerun.
To read the full thing, click here.

68 comments:

Mary Yanni said...

Most memorable thing about the broadcast for me: During the introductions of the best actor and actress nominees, when the screen was divided to show the presenter and the nominee, there were a couple of frames showing clips from nominated movies below the nominee. And there was that damn Kung-Fu Panda doing the same trick over ... and over ... and over ... and over ...

Anonymous said...

Worst presenter of the night: Bill Maher

My movie didn't get nominated because religion is just too controversial.

No, it wasn't any good.

Well, I'm still arrogant enough to recite my movie's theme again, your "gods" are silly and hurting the world.

Maybe a documentary about Maher would get nominated. It would be titled "SMUG".

Graeleight said...

I thought Ben Stiller's bit was funny but that was the worst 'tribute-to-those-no-longer-with-us' (or as I like to call it, The March of the Dead) ever.

For me the whole point of The March is to see who gets the anchor spots (first and last) and who gets the biggest applause.

Of course this year it was so obvious that Newman would get the pimp spot and the biggest applause it wasn't as much of an anticipation this year but they still screwed it up.

Bitsy said...

Alan, I'm pretty sure that wasn't Ricardo Montez, it was Dominic Cooper singing with Amanda Seyfried.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Bitsy, you are correct. Fixed.

Steve B said...

I pretty much have to agree with your assessment. The nominations for the major acting categories were too long and boring. I didn't get a chance to see all the nominated movies and I would have liked to have seen clips from the performances I hadn't seen yet.

By the time the tribute to the dead came up, I had moved away from my HDTV to the smaller (25") set in my bedroom. Because the camera kept moving towards and away from the tribute screen, I was alternately squinting at the set to read the names, and yelling at the cameraman to stop moving. Very frustrating.

Jackman was fine, I love comedians, Jon Stewart especially, but it was refreshing not having to listen to forced quips all night. It kept the show moving along.

Just to reiterate, I hated, hated, hated the long intros to the acting categories, but loved how they used the same presenters for multiple, more minor categories.

lungfish said...

Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix imitation was already scooped a full week earlier on SNL. Plus, his wandering around during the nominees' clips diverted the audience's attention unnecessarily.

lady t said...

Bill Maher was the worst presenter;I'm surprised he didn't hold up a DVD of his over rated movie during that segment.

The gang of five intros to the acting categories was an interesting twist,plus we didn't have to sit yet another clip of "I WANT MY SON BACK!!!"-bonus right there:)

Hugh Jackman was a very charming host. I've heard about his song and dance prowess but this was the first time I got to see that(loved how he was able to make the last line of the intro song,"I am Wolverine!). The second singalong was okay,even with Beyonce slipping in a lyric from "At Last"(I knew she would do that!).

Finally,Peter Gabriel's protest was made even more lame by the well orchestrated Best Song performances that blended well together on stage. Jai ho,indeed!

Toby O'B said...

I'll add my voice to those complaining about the In Memoriam tribute. What a horrible disservice to their work and memory. That's the one segment of the show that should be treated as a TV show and not a film of a stage show.

I also would have preferred clips to the tributes, but it was fun guessing why certain actors were matched up - Michael Douglas once played 'The American President', so he got Langella, for example. (Funniest for my viewing party - was Ben Kingsley honoring Rourke as the wrestler because of Gandhi or Sexy Beast?

One last note on the In Memoriam segment: I had a feeling he wouldn't be shown, since he was better known for TV, but Patrick McGoohan should have been honored: 'Ice Station Zebra', 'The Phantom', 'Baby', 'Brass Target', 'Silver Streak', and 'Braveheart', for pete's sake!

DonBoy said...

My favorite part was during the Best Actor presentation, when whoever-was-"addressing"-Frank-Langella had to say that Langella's Nixon "made us forget all previous attempts", or something like that...while Anthony Hopkins was standing right there. Really, was that necessary?

Karl said...

The notion that Sean Penn makes it hard for other people in Hollywood to vote for him is a joke. Politics more likely played a role in the snubs of The Dark Knight and Gran Torino that Penn's failure to win more than two Oscars. But nice that a guy who supports Hugo Chavez and the Iranian mullocracy got a chance to lecture us all about human rights.

baggsey said...

I too was surprised that Patrick McGoohan did not get a mention re his passing, but I learned over on Robert Ebert's site that only members of the academy get to be honored...

maura said...

The People Who Died segment bugged me the most. Do they think everyone has 100" screens now? At least I know it wasn't just my old lady eyes that were causing the problem.

I loved the opening number, and Anne Hathaway was adorable and fun. But I mostly hate show tunes, and medleys annoy me, so I changed the channel during the second musical number.

Jackman was good, and I'm glad Sean Penn is finally winning awards, but I think, overall, this was a hot mess.

Where the hell was Jack Nicholson? It's not the Oscars without him holding court in the front row.

Karl said...

maura,

Nicholson reportedly turned down a presenter slot this year. That he got a worse seat and almost no camera time was purely coincidental.
---

Also missing during the Memoriam: George Carlin

Tom E said...

And unless you're a hard-core film buff who cares that "Wall*E" lost both of the sound awards, there were few upsets to speak of.

I do have to say, this WAS a bit of a travesty. I mean, really. As if "Wall*E" wasn't getting overlooked enough.

Adam said...

Well, we liveblogged it over at ALOTT5MA, and I think people were pretty happy with most of the changes, except Beyonce's lipsync number and the failure to show the Necrology on the full screen. The one-on-one nominee tributes ended up being a nice touch, and it's always good to see Kevin Kline again.

I still would move some of the technical awards (sound editing, etc.) to an earlier ceremony, and replace with Best Debut Performance and Film (for actors and directors), and perhaps a Stunt award.

J said...

All what you said, though I was happy with most of Stiller's Phoenix impersonation. Normally when they trot out Stiller (or Will Ferrell, etc.) we get some hammy schtik. At least this dictated that this would be kept under control. (I was afraid he'd rap.)

One of the new Oscar producers was Bill Condon, the Oscar-winning screenwriter who directed Dreamgirls (so hello, Beyonce and Eddie Murphy) and Kinsey. So I was curious going in just how smart it would be; and after years of Villanch-style writing, intros were (sometimes inappropriately) thick, and the presentation of the design/post stuff was conceptually unified in a procedural manner. But those acting presentations -- no doubt conceived in an effort to boost up star-power -- were mostly just chunks of hyperbolic lead. Each acting envelope felt like ten minutes of presentation, ugh.

It really does come down to the winners and what they do at the podium, and though Penn was graceful and all, I really would have liked to see Rourke kick it up there.

Karen said...

It was fun to have Twitter running as an ongoing commentary. Paul F Tompkins asked, at one point, "What is up with this intervention-style presentation?" which kinda summed up how I felt about those godawful personalized speeches, although someone else gasped, when the first group appeared, "OMG, it's the Final Five!" which pleased me no end.

The panning out during the In Memoriam was staggeringly disrespectful. I'm guessing Queen Latifah would have been just fine in being off-screen.

I thought the opening musical number was hit-or-miss, but the big production number in the middle was miss all the way. I FFed through most of it. Best Twitter for the opening number? Matt Fraction, currently writing the comic Uncanny X-Men: "when Dr. Nemesis shouts out "MUSICALS ARE BACK!" for no discernible reason in UNCANNY 512, you'll know what was on while I wrote that night."

Mark B said...

Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix imitation

OHHHH! I was totally clueless about that. Thanks for the flesh-out. (I knew about Joaquin, but I didn't make the connection.)

But nice that a guy who supports Hugo Chavez and the Iranian mullocracy got a chance to lecture us all about human rights.

The Norm MacDonald joke would be that it's not that Penn believes in the goals of the dictators, but that he "really likes irony."

Craig said...

I guess I'm not that surprised that people were offended by Bill Maher, but I tend to almost always agree with him and I think he's a pretty good comic as well, so I didn't mind his presentation at all. Let's face it, his documentary deserved to win, and his points about religion are pretty accurate.

The most irritating segment of the show was the people who died segment, as others have said. Cameras floating around the stage in wide shots...I couldn't even read the names on the screen half the time. What on Earth were they thinking?

I didn't like the idea of having five formally victorious Oscar winners coming out to kiss ass and deliver long monologues to all the new actor nominees. Get on with it already.

I'll never understand the point of the various pointless montages they show at these award shows. Axe them and move on with the awards.

I like Hugh Jackman but I didn't really like the musical bits.

My favorite parts of the show were Tina Fey/Steve Martin presenting, and also the Judd Apatow short with Franco and Rogen.


As far as winners, I really think Mickey Rourke deserved the Best Actor nod, but hey, Sean Penn is quite talented too, and I liked his acceptance speech where he condemned all of the bigots in California who voted to take away equal rights from people who happened to be gay. Especially the line about how their grandchildren will view them.

Alan Sepinwall said...

But nice that a guy who supports Hugo Chavez and the Iranian mullocracy got a chance to lecture us all about human rights.

Cool it on the political discussion, guys. One of the ways we keep things sane around here is to try things as apolitical as possible.

Greg said...

@Baggsey: I understand you're paraphrasing Ebert, but does that mean Vampira was an Academy member?

amysusanne said...

I'm going to venture to guess that Penn wasn't referring to his politics as the reason he makes it hard for people to appreciate him. More likely (and logically) he was talking about the fact that he can be a pain in the ass, something that he's certainly aware of. I doubt it would occur to him that his peers might disagree or care about his politics, especially since he said it in a very joking way. It seems to me that he was acknowledging his rep for being difficult, not anything else. Overall, I enjoyed his speech because he came off as a human being (he began with the self deprecation instead of going the "actor with a stick up his ass" route)and he managed to pay tribute to Mickey Rourke without sounding condescending. It's always nice when actors who win acknowledge the actors who have just been passed over, but it often comes off as insincere. I thought his shout out to Mickey sounded very sincere.

Still, the highlights for me had nothing to do with the winners, it was all about the opening number (the "I didn't see The Reader" dance was my favorite part) and the funny Rogen/Franco bit. Rogen then laughing at Franco's pronunciation of the winner was a bonus. Nevermind that it's just mindblowing to hear the sound effect of Jason Segel's penis slapping against his thighs on the Academy Awards.

Karl said...

Alan,

Sorry about that. If only the Oscars and their recipients could do likewise. And since you specifically referred to his comment as a good joke in your column, I thought it was fair game to disagree.

Daniel Dan said...

Sean Penn had the best acceptance speech. I'm glad when celebrities use their profile to try to get a message out about important issues, especially something as important as equal rights for all American citizens.

Overall the show itself was pretty lame, with a few exceptions. I was happy with most of the winners. I'm really glad Kate Winslet finally won, and I love the humorous connection her Extra's appearance. Anne Hathaway was brilliant in Rachel Getting Married, but she'll have a million more chances to win one of these. I'm sure it's in her future.

Rick said...

No mention of Adrian Brody's presentation of "Seymour Philip Hoffman"?

That would piss me off to no end.

Al said...

I hated the "Final Five" actors blathering on. It was terrible televsion and broke the film tenet: show, don't tell.

The Oscars is a rare time for lesser-known films to show a bit of themselves, not for us to hear has-beens (yes, tehre were some!) talk in banal platitudes.

Also, the far back camera on the clips of passt winners gave us HALF a screen of them, and half a screen of their reflection on the shiny floor, lending the impression that all these actors were leaning up against neck-high tables. Folks at home couldn't get a FULL screen?

And no Oscars should ever show clips of Space Chimps or Mummy 3 ... those clip reeels to explaion to just-arrived Martian what "comedy" and "romance" were apcked with a bunch of 2008 dreck. Dudes, you're devaluing the brand: The Oscars doesn't reward ALL films, just the best.

Helene H. said...
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Steve said...

Rick,

I thought that it was actually a play on words, something about how we all want to "See More Phillip Hoffman."

But maybe sometimes an error is just an error.

jim treacher said...

Sounds like it was alright, as garish orgies of self-congratulation go.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone that the necrology was the most disappointing part. I really couldn't see/read it very well, and the best parts of those things are the people who you recognize or whose films you recognize but you didn't know their names or didn't hear they'd died. The way they filmed it really took away from that.

Overall, though...I kind of liked it. I laughed way more than I usually would at an award show. Fey and Martin were hysterical. I may be in the minority but I liked the one-on-one introductions by former winners. I think it was because the nominees really seemed to appreciate it.

I loved Sean Penn's speech and also Dustin Lance Black's. I know it's sometimes a bit of a downer to veer into politics, but talking about Obama and Prop 8 when you've just won for playing Harvey Milk is worlds away from Penn's usual weirdo anti-social humorlessness. I'll take it over "Jude Law is the bestest actor evarz!" anyday. Actually, I really liked almost all the speeches, and I loved that so few of them seemed rushed.

I took Maher's comments to be the same type of thing as Hugh's bit about Australia getting him the hosting gig and Jack Black betting against Dreamworks. But I wasn't paying that close attention at that point so I won't defend him too strongly.

In stark contrast to the necrology, the supporting actor segment was filmed/edited beautifully.

Oh and the "Musicals are back!" number had me up through the all-boy chorus line, but then it just went a little nutso. The super-quick transitions from song to song reminded me of the monologue from the Hugh Laurie SNL which they reran on Saturday. "We're only going to sing 3 seconds of each song so that we don't have to pay royalites!" Way clumsy.

christy said...

oops, Anon 12:59 was me, christy.

Steve said...

The Necrology segment was done poorly because of the camera work... however, I thought Latifah sang beautifully, and did not oversing it at all

The Rush Blog said...

Jackman was good, and I'm glad Sean Penn is finally winning awards, but I think, overall, this was a hot mess.

What do you mean that you’re glad that Sean Penn is finally winning awards? He won his first Oscar, five years ago.


I didn't like the idea of having five formally victorious Oscar winners coming out to kiss ass and deliver long monologues to all the new actor nominees. Get on with it already.

God, how I hated that!


Oh and the "Musicals are back!" number had me up through the all-boy chorus line, but then it just went a little nutso.

That didn’t bother me. The musical numbers in the past ten years sucked big time – with one or two exceptions.

Anonymous said...

Sean Penn had the best acceptance speech. I'm glad when celebrities use their profile to try to get a message out about important issues, especially something as important as equal rights for all American citizens.

I remember when their cause was PRIVACY, rather than demanding that the government have a record of "who's gay," something I thought was "no one's business." But then I also remember when TV and the movies dismissed marriage as "just a piece of paper."

If celebrities want to use their status to promote causes, that's fine, but it always seemed inappropriate, presumptuous, and pretentious to me to do it while being honored for your work. (Do the words "Vanessa Redgrave" ring any bells?)

Carlos said...
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Steven Q Jackson said...

I was very glad to see Kate Winslet finally win her Oscar. I was glad Sean Penn won as well, and I loved his acceptance speech. It needed to be said. I figured Slumdog would win best pic but I don't know if it really deserved the Editing and Score and Sound wins...also why wasn't the Wrestler song nominated for Best song, especially since there were only 3 songs nominated and two of them were from Slumdog?

Also I'd like to say that if anyone hasn't seen In Bruges, which was nominated for Best Screenplay (original), you should check it out.

The show itself sucked, I'm sorry to say, and I like Hugh Jackman too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, and now we're done. No more political talk of any kind here. I don't care if you're pro-Penn, anti-Penn, whatever -- if it's political from this point forward, I'm deleting it. We're at the point we got to around the time of the "SNL" election episodes, and the only way to keep things polite is to be strict on this point.

Steve said...

regarding the song nomination process. I read that the nomination process for songs is different from other categories. Instead of the voters choosing the song nominees based on preference (ranking favorites to create the 5 nominees), each song is graded on a sliding scale from 6-10. In order for a song to get a nomination for Best Song, it's average score has to be at least an 8.25.

http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2009/01/story-oscars--1.html

Links to the LA Times... hope this is kosher, Alan.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Explanatory links are absolutely cool. Even linking to your own thoughts -- or another critic's thoughts -- on the show is cool, so long as you contribute to the discussion here along the way.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably in the minority, but I loved the different 5 person award presentation (although they didn't really need two montages to introduce them).

In a world flooded with celebutards and celebutantes, it pulled at my heart and made me gasp with excitement at the overpowering presence of real Hollywood celebrity.

maura said...

What do you mean that you’re glad that Sean Penn is finally winning awards? He won his first Oscar, five years ago.

But he's been doing award-worthy work for much longer than that, and it's only been recently that he's finally won. That's what I meant.

It's always nice when actors who win acknowledge the actors who have just been passed over, but it often comes off as insincere. I thought his shout out to Mickey sounded very sincere.

I agree Anysuzanne. I sometimes doubt I'm hearing anything sincere, considering there's a room filled with some of the most talented performers in the industry. (As much as I love Meryl Streep, her humble act can feel a bit put on.) But Penn's shout-out really did seem to come from the heart. And good for him for making fun of himself. He made me laugh.

Karl, thanks for the info on Jack Nicholson. It just seemed wrong for him not to be front and center. :)

ym said...

I think Hugh Jackman was wonderful as the host - I actually found his absence in the middle part refreshing. It's much better to do that than to come up with some stale one-liner. Alan, You mentioned that Tina Fey and Steve Martin were funnier than when Martin was on 30 Rock - I think the addition of Ricky Gervais to the scriptwriting team really helped this year.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think the addition of Ricky Gervais to the scriptwriting team really helped this year.

I believe Gervais was specifically writing material for Jackman. I'd be shocked if anyone but Fey and Martin themselves wrote their stuff, as it sounded very much like a blending of their work.

Ebeth said...

I couldn't help but watch Hugh Jackman and think:I hope Dr. Cox (Scrubs) will reference this before the end of the season/series. His hatred of Hugh Jackman is hilarious.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sadly, Scrubs wrapped back in August, long before Jackman was even named the Oscar host.

LA said...

Put me down as loved having the 5 previous winners present the actor awards. The nominees seemed touched, and I thought it was rather poignant overall.

Low points for me were Ben Stiller and the camera work during the Memorial segment.

I was really impressed at how composed the Ledger family was. You could see they were on the verge, but they kept it together beautifully. Can't say the same for us watching.

I'd give the show an A for effort, B- for execution. There's still too much in the middle that is boring beyond belief. Hope Hugh Jackman's back next year.

drake lelane said...

Third most unexpected pop culture reference of the night: Danny Boyle referencing Tigger from Winnie the Pooh during his acceptance speech for best director.

The show on the whole was definitely was a mixed bag...

Anonymous said...

Anyone else find it strange that they didn't put Heath Ledger in last year's In Memoriam saying he missed the deadline, and then didn't put him in this year's either?

Stephanie said...

I enjoyed it overall. I like Hugh Jackman and I thought his song and dance numbers were great. The joke about being contractually obligated to mention Brangelina cracked me up.

Count me in as hating the In Memoriam segment. The people who passed deserved better. Hopefully the producers will change that for future years.

I was excited for this year's awards because of Slumdog Millionaire, but the lack of surprises made it somewhat disappointing, particularly since I was practically nodding off at that point.

As touching as I found some of the presentations of the acting awards, it took way too long. I say scrap it.

Loved Rogen laughing at Franco's pronunciation of the Short Film winner. That's one of those spontaneous moments that makes an awards ceremony.

And I just want to add, it was Alan Arkin and not Adrien Brody, that messed up Phillip Seymour Hoffman's name.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And I just want to add, it was Alan Arkin and not Adrien Brody, that messed up Phillip Seymour Hoffman's name.

Yeah, Brody was the one who more or less said he had to Google Richard Jenkins to figure out who he was giving a speech about.

(I kid, I kid. But Brody could've phrased that bit better.)

Steve said...

Alan, again, are you sure it wasn't a pun that we wanted to "See More Phillip Hoffman?" I don't remember the context.

Also, one of the commenters Nate Silver's running blog from FiveThirtyEight.com made a very interesting observation about Best Picture.

"Something changed after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Best Picture for 2003. Not one of the 25 movies nominated for best picture since has grossed $150 million domestic and only a handful have surpassed $100 million. Juno, I believe, is the top grosser among the 25 and will likely remain so since Slumdog is just about to surpass $100 milion domestic and Benjamin Button won't win any major awards."

Linda said...

Heath Ledger was in last year's "In Memoriam." His death occurred just before the..uh..deadline.

Anonymous said...

Alan has a serious crush on Anne Hathaway...but so do I, so it's cool. And I think Hugh Jackman deserves another chance because maybe like Jon Stewart, the second time will be more complete.

Nicole said...

I was wondering how much television movie actors watch because I would have thought that Richard Jenkins would be well-known from his role in Six Feet Under.

I was happy to see him nominated, because I recall seeing the film at the Toronto Film Fest, and during a Q&A afterward, one of the audience members said that he deserved an Oscar for the role. I can't disagree.

I wasn't surprised that Penn made a political comment at the end. I normally am not a fan of when an actor has to make a statement on a random human rights issue, but in this case, it fell in line with the spirit of the movie and the role in particular.

I have mixed feelings about the 5 previous winners giving intros to the nominees. It worked when there was some sort of connection to the nominee, but otherwise, it felt like fake flattery... e.g. Nicole Kidman's speech to Angelina Jolie was basically a description of the film's trailer.

Also, I for one will not complain at the lack of Jack this year..

Anonymous said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

Am I speaking Esperanto? No political comments.

Michael 8-) said...

I found the show much more enjoyable then some other recent years -- but that could be because I was really happy with many of the nominees this year.

Still, the show seemed a little schizophrenic to me. One moment it's like the Tony Awards in its performances, another it's comic banter, and another it's clips.

And, while I thought the Pineapple Express piece or young presenters/performers like Pattinson, Efron, and Hudgens were fine... isn't it a little silly to highlight movies and performances that the Academy clearly doesn't find worthy of actually nominating for anything?

mosaica said...

All in all, I was really happy with it. I found myself really wanting to watch most of it and that in and of itself is a gigantic improvement over the last several years.

I'll throw my hat into the already crowded ring of hating the way they did the In Memorium piece - loved Queen Latifah singing, hated the camera work.

I liked the personal intro's of the actors by previous award winners - I thought for the most part that it was really sweet and heartfelt.

And Ben Stiller's schtick was annoying. Especially after watching the Spirit Awards and seeing the excellent spoof they did with the Christian Bale/Joaquin Phoenix impersonations!

Matthew L said...

I still would move some of the technical awards (sound editing, etc.) to an earlier ceremony, and replace with Best Debut Performance and Film (for actors and directors), and perhaps a Stunt award.

Absolutely agree with you about the stunt award (they really do deserve an Oscar to acknowledge excellence in stunt work), but otherwise absolutely disagree with you. The thing I love about the Oscars is that they do acknowledge every stage of the film process. There are people who do excellent work in costuming, design work, sound construction, cinematography, and never get acknowledged. Their work is invisible, never acknowledged. But at the Oscars, for one brief moment, their contributions are acknowledged as an essential part of the filmmaking. Relegating their awards to an separate untelevised ceremony just reinforces that their contribution isn't as important or worthy of recognition as those of the film stars - who to be honest already get more recognition and return than they really deserve.

And (like I explained in the other post) that's why I hated the "final five" presentation style for the acting Oscars. Because that said that "the stars" are deserving of special treatment for the presentation of their awards that no behind-the-scenes workers (not even the directors) received.

(It offended me just as much as the time a few years ago when they had a microphone in the middle of the auditorium for the "lesser awards", with the nominees standing right by the mike - which in effect denied them their big moment of triumph, walking through the crowd to the applause of their peers.)

The thing people forget is that this is the Academy's night. This is (in theory) about the Academy acknowledging fine work by its members. It's not meant to be entertainment for people at home. We are lucky to be able to watch the show, and they do work to put on an entertaining show for those of us at home, but we should not be the intended audience. The moment they start moving some awards to a lesser ceremony or treat one type of award differently to another to keep us entertained is the moment we have too much control.

Tyroc said...

Matthew L writes...
"The thing people forget is that this is the Academy's night. This is (in theory) about the Academy acknowledging fine work by its members. It's not meant to be entertainment for people at home. We are lucky to be able to watch the show, and they do work to put on an entertaining show for those of us at home, but we should not be the intended audience. The moment they start moving some awards to a lesser ceremony or treat one type of award differently to another to keep us entertained is the moment we have too much control."

But they do already give out a whole bunch of awards beforehand (the night that Jessica Biel hosted this time around.)

I have absolutely no problem giving out the awards for Short Films another night (for all of them -- live action, animated, and documentary.) No one in the theater nor at home has seen these films or even had an opportunity to do so (unless you happen to go to film festivals or be an academy member.)

And honestly, I don't think making a short film, no matter the artistry involved, is as deserving as a feature length film. And even if it were, they have no place in the telecast. Give them their own night, and then release them on a special Oscar DVD. But don't waste twenty minutes of the show, completely destroying any pacing in the process, celebrating the best of something no one can see.

Matthew L said...

But they do already give out a whole bunch of awards beforehand (the night that Jessica Biel hosted this time around.)

As I wrote that, I remember thinking someone would mention the technical awards. But those awards are fundamentally different - they aren't so much for achievement in a particular year or for a particular film (like with the regular Oscars), but for technical developments and innovations that developd over a long time and are applied more generally. (Just read the list of people honoured this year - http://www.oscars.org/awards/scitech/winners.html.) And they do get an acknowledgement in the main show. So there's a world of difference between the Scientific and Technical Oscars and creating a second award ceremony for "lesser awards".

I have absolutely no problem giving out the awards for Short Films another night (for all of them -- live action, animated, and documentary.) No one in the theater nor at home has seen these films or even had an opportunity to do so (unless you happen to go to film festivals or be an academy member.)
And honestly, I don't think making a short film, no matter the artistry involved, is as deserving as a feature length film. And even if it were, they have no place in the telecast. Give them their own night, and then release them on a special Oscar DVD. But don't waste twenty minutes of the show, completely destroying any pacing in the process, celebrating the best of something no one can see.


Everyone knows that there's a difference between making a short film and a feature film. That's why they don't have the "Best Short" awards at the end of the ceremony. But making a great short film has its own challenges (as Jack Black said, it's hard to make America fall in love with your panda in only 15 minutes), and it deserves recognition - even if people at home haven't seen the film.

And like I said, the Oscars aren't actually for us. They're for the people who are actually involved in movie making, and if the pacing has to slow down for five or ten minutes in a three and a half hour show just to acknowledge a couple of people who made great short films, then so be it. It's their moment, and I don't see why they should be robbed of it just so people can get to bed ten minutes earlier.

Tyroc said...

I can agree with you when it comes to makeup and costumes and sound editing and sound mixing (although I still don't understand the difference between the sound awards.)

But the shorts will never make sense to me. I get the argument but disagree.

I do wonder if ABC actually wants the show to be longer so they can make more money from all the ads?

They might veto going under three hours.

Mark B said...

The thing people forget is that this is the Academy's night. This is (in theory) about the Academy acknowledging fine work by its members. It's not meant to be entertainment for people at home.

Then why should it get 3-4 hours of prime time TV in what would normally be the ratings "sweeps" period?

(The show used to be in March or April, not February. Sweeps were moved this year so as not to coincide with the originally-scheduled digital conversion.)

It's because it IS meant to be entertainment for people at home.

Matthew L said...

Then why should it get 3-4 hours of prime time TV in what would normally be the ratings "sweeps" period?

Because people are interested in the Oscars. Because there is a lot of interest on what was "the best movie" of the year, and discussing how they got it wrong. And because they do try to put on a good show (with varying success) to entertain the viewers at home.

But there is a world of difference between them trying to put on some interesting entertainment for the people watching, and the awards actually losing their purpose (to recognise people who excelled in all fields of filmmaking) in order to focus solely on those at home.

(And I believe the reason for the move to February was not because of sweeps, but because there were so many award ceremonies that by the time the Oscars came around we were three months after the year ended, and the films had all been awarded already, so the oscars were increasingly irrelevant. However, by moving the Oscars up, they just condensed all the other award ceremonies into a shorter timeframe, so everyone just is sick of awards.)

Otto Man said...

Maybe I'm alone here, but I thought this was one of the worst Oscars ceremonies in memory.

Jackman and company might have been insisting that the musical was back, but those godawful performances killed it again.

Anonymous said...

Awful, awful, awful. Were you all watching a different awards show than I was? That made me miss the Rob Lowe and Snow White routines.

Greg

Michael 8-) said...

No, greg... Nothing could be as awfully memorable as Rob Lowe singing with Snow White.