To Academy CEO Bill Kramer and President Janet Yang.
What’s more exciting? An actual Best Performance acting race between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett which Yeoh deservingly won? Or the Academy door prize prematurely celebrating whose career is more over between Jamie Lee Curtis and Angela Bassett?
It’s ridiculous because that’s what it feels like now. Of course, Curtis won between the two. Not because she is more loved, we love them both equally (although Jamie Lee is all of us). But between the two Bassett is more likely to end up on stage competitively. Jamie Lee in her speech said as much. The iconic films she has starred in which, still get good use in montage after montage at the Oscars, are never nominated. What’s more, it’s entirely beside the point. The 95th Academy Awards with its rash of new nominees and sweeping win for Everything Everywhere All At Once with the largest haul in a decade represented a sea change, out with the old, in with the new. So the Academy should adapt and look to their future. Here are some of the ways they can do that.
Become Available on Streaming (somehow):
It’ll be 2024 by the time the 96th Academy Awards come along and if the Oscars want to make it past 100 they better get online before their current television contract with ABC ends in 2028. I don’t care what deal they have with ABC who seems to drag down the show every chance they get. A simple change of broadcast provider would go a long way but isn’t happening. However, streaming rights are a different story. If they could find a way to negotiate live streaming rights to Hulu or Disney Plus or somehow get out of their existing agreement with the company that:
- Devoted an entire segment last year to performing a song that wasn’t even submitted or nominated, with a rap remix version [We Don’t Talk About Bruno]
- Inserted advertisements into the ceremony where for the second year in a row we have to watch Chloe Bailey threaten us with the kind of content she admits “is something adults [have to] endure”. Last year included a pre-recorded message from Chris Evans promoting his future bomb Lightyear. This year we were presented “in ceremony” as if it were to be an actual reward with a trailer for the dim-looking CGI garbage-fest, which is a far cry from the classic it inspired.
This even comes down to hiring their own late-night host for the festivities; Jimmy Kimmel whose hit-or-miss jokes can be very funny but never rises to appreciate the occasion. In short, although he has the right sense of humor and cynicism to not be too poisonous to the ceremony (his Babylon and slap jokes were A+) he doesn’t really care about the awards. So why should the audience? No more Jimmies of any kind, and no more Television hosts. Get someone who has had a starring role in a popular movie this decade to host, please.
Select A Very Dynamic Host:
For years ever since his infamous Golden Globes stints, it seems like Ricky Gervais was destined to host the Oscars. Other comedians like Kevin Hart or Eddie Murphy can’t seem to host without their hosting gigs getting pre-canceled; Hart for his past homophobic tweets, and Murphy on his insistence on only doing the show without homophobic director Brett Ratner. It has been heralded as the most thankless job in Hollywood. Looking at the last 15 years of highlights. Ellen DeGeneres and Hugh Jackman performed best. So a song and dance person with a sense of humour seems to be a recipe for success. Or just someone really funny who feels like they want to do it. Does that count Bill Burr out? The Rock would also do a great job hosting and I bet his busy schedule has lightened up after the performance of Black Adam.
As for how Kimmel performed, he’s fine, but leave it at 3 gigs, same with Billy Crystal at 9. I felt Kimmel did better before even though his individual comedy worked better this time. He addressed the slap perfectly and hilariously damned the audience as well as people who didn’t show up: namely Cruise and Cameron. But as I said before, when your greatest contribution to cinema is voicing the foster father of Alec Baldwin, The Academy should look elsewhere for hosting duties. Most of all pick someone funny. Not someone who will attract a new audience, not someone who is young and hot right now, just a skilled tough quick-witted jester.
Ways to cut down the run time
Time is actually the least concerning. Book for a 3-and-a-half-hour show with the aim of doing 3. And own it. It was great including all the categories and haters are going to hate. But the thing that would save the most time is cutting down the musical performances. The Academy was smart to air abridged performances of its nominated songs, but if Gaga isn’t scheduled to perform, don’t worry about representing Top Gun. The movies win the awards they win. That’s enough.
Often times like famously in 2003, the show can drown itself in montage. Given there is already an in-Memorium segment that gets more and more crowded each passing year it would be an ideal moment to be placed in the middle of the show along with whatever the Academy President has to say in order to serve as an intermission of sorts. The inevitable Academy Museum spot can show the people who actually bothered to buy a ticket to it win a chance to attend the Oscars and sit on the balcony as a form of regular audience interaction.
We don’t need every Oscar-nominated song to perform. If a singer (like Lady Gaga) is too busy, don’t force them to perform. Save time. This is a category introduced strictly for famous pop stars and writers to win an Oscar. So unless the academy institutes a hard rule that only songs that play *before the credits start are eligible for the award it’s unreasonable to expect viewing audiences to listen to it as well.
I get that too be honest no one wants to sit through the “short” categories, even though every award matters equally and the shorts also represent future filmmakers of tomorrow like Domee She, Martin McDonagh,
Kobe Bryant, and Riz Ahmed, but if you’re going to cut off winners acceptance speeches, please be consistent and cut off the white winners as well as the winners of colour. Also please give the multiple winners a plan for accepting their award rather than having one drone on forever and cutting the time of the other.
The easiest way is to actually televise The Governors Awards and create two television events. Look at how SAG was hosted on Netflix’s YouTube page. If visibility is the issue make sure regular joes have the opportunity to see it and place them a few weeks before the Academy Awards.
Represent Other Genres including Horror
One of the reasons ratings are down from the last decade isn’t strictly because of cable cutting. The ceremony is available to watch for free Over the Air with a digital antenna (purchasable here). It is because, even though everyone loves movies, they are not represented. A hit film like Barbarian was #1 in theaters and popular on streaming is thematically rich and appropriately critically lauded. (It was better reviewed than Best Picture Nominees Elvis and Triangle of Sadness). Can the Academy do anything to prevent pundits from excluding these films in their endless analysis? It is a film deserving of Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Makeup, and Sound nominations, and yet isn’t in the academy conversation because it doesn’t fit the bill. It was a miracle Top Gun got as many nominations as it did despite being an action movie.
Give the Visual F/X and Sound People Their Due
This year the AVATAR people who are the keystone for making the third highest-grossing film of all time worldwide got played off in order to set up for Rihanna’s musical performance while Jimmy Kimmel did a comedy bit in the audience that didn’t work. Can you really blame James Cameron and Tom Cruise for not showing up given the Academy’s disrespectful attitude towards the films they make which have been said to have saved movie-going? It’s obvious the Academy and the rest of the movie industry at large don’t care about special effects or sound, two things that are often done so shoddily that audiences for the last 3 years have done nothing but complain about. Given their shabby state something has to be done. And recognizing and exemplifying when they are done correctly is a good place to start.
Make Better Use of The Governor’s Awards and Honorary Oscars
Maybe introduce new categories like stunt choreography and casting there too, it would also help to increase the number of honorary Oscars given out and emphasize that they count just as much as a competitive Oscar. This way we can avoid a Jamie Lee Curtis-style upset. I love Jamie Lee Curtis and she and her parents have worked their entire careers to provide guys like me with movies people actually enjoy and watch other than Oscar fare. But a career win like hers or if Angela Bassett won highlights the snowballing issue of awarding career Oscars. It’s no longer about who gave the best performance, but rather just who put in the best work and whose time it is. Awarding Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant because he lost a bunch of times mitigates his previous nominations as seeming less important when really only being in his forties has afforded plenty of time for him to win competitively which he could have far more legitimately as early as Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Were he to have a career like the great Peter O’Toole who was awarded an honorary Oscar late in his career (and getting nominated one more time competitively) would that be so bad? To win one Oscar is a lifetime achievement that people should work really hard at. If Leo were to spend the rest of his life trying to top his performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape for our benefit, would that be so bad? No, it wouldn’t. An actual race like the one between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett is way more exciting than pre-maturely celebrating whose career is more over between Jamie Lee Curtis and Angela Bassett.
Back up the camera PLEASE…
One of the more uncomfortable things about last year’s slap continued this year is the claustrophobic close-up of the actors winning. Please give the audience breathing room. Remember three years ago when COVID started and we were encouraged to stay six feet apart. It would help if the audience at home felt that too. It’s uncomfortable for the stars as well. In the best of times or worst of times, it’s equally uncomfortable.
Hire the crew who did the Grammys
Similar to Jimmy Kimmel hosting, I love Glen Weiss, his proposal and awards show mastery is unparalleled, but like the academy award winners have indicated, it’s time to move on. Although it wouldn’t hurt to put an elder statesman celebrity everyone knows who is not afraid to be laughed at in the front row.
Hire a rules referee
Hire somebody who can reach out and make statements during awards season so we don’t have to see the academy scramble after every crisis or do nothing when an actor like Michelle Yeoh possibly breaks academy rules on her Instagram page.
(see last year’s review)
10 Possible Future Contenders
A THOUSAND AND ONE (Focus Features)
DUNE: PART TWO (WB pictures)
THE HOLDOVERS (Focus Features)
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Paramount/ Apple)
OPPENHEIMER (Universal Pictures)
POOR THINGS (Searchlight)
PAST LIVES (A24)