Opinion: Are the Oscars Awards even aware of the industry they are trying to celebrate?

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I’m not the biggest fan of awards shows, least of all the Oscars. While I do like to see who wins each category out of interest, I haven’t watched any actual awards ceremonies in years. Do you know who also doesn’t appear to be a big fan of the Oscars? The organisers of the awards show themselves, ABC, as all they seem to be doing this year is sabotaging it with one poor decision after another.

The joke that is the 2019 Oscars started last year with the Academy wanting to appease the masses – who would likely demand that Black Panther get a nomination – by creating a category for Best Popular Movie. Unsurprisingly, it was an idea that went against the whole concept of the ceremony itself and this award was cancelled just as quickly as it had come about. Thankfully, for the academy, Black Panther still got a host of relevant nominations, though there is still debate if some of these are truly justified.  

We have also seen controversy around the host for this year’s show with Kevin Hart initially scheduled to host the show before he pulled out following backlash from the Academy around old, controversial tweets. With Hart refusing to apologise for these tweets (as he claimed he had already done so enough in the past) that left the Academy with a gap they’ve struggled to fill, despite it supposedly being the hottest gig in town. In the end, it was decided that this year’s award show won’t have a single host, but will rather see different people presenting different segments at each time. This was followed by a flip-flopping over which musical performance to play in the event, with initially only two Best Song contestants chosen to perform, before realising that’s a bad idea as every song deserves a showcase. A compromise was eventually achieved by reducing the length of each song performed.

There were also the controversial decisions made around who would present certain acting awards at this year’s show. Every year it is usually a tradition for the previous year’s winners to present the awards to their gender opposite category. So, for instance, the winner of last year’s Best Actress award will present the award for this year’s Best Actor and so forth. However this year they initially made the decision to break with this tradition and offered it up to other people to present these categories.

And I’m all for breaking tradition and trying new things, but they forgot one important thing: this is something that previous winners actually look forward to. However it gets worse because the reason given for this change is because they wanted to get bigger name stars to present the awards – again something of a kick in the face to last year’s winners. And when you consider that those winners are Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Alison Janney – some of the most recognisable thespians in the industry – then you have to ask what on earth the academy is thinking? Thankfully sanity prevailed and they have reverted this decision. Sanity which didn’t last long as the Academy is apparently bullying actors to only present at the Oscars and nowhere else.

Lastly though, and perhaps most shockingly, the awards organisers, in the hopes of trying to make the ceremony itself shorter, decided to present four of the awards during the broadcasts ad breaks. Those four unlucky categories were to be Best Editing, Cinematography, Live-action Short Film and Makeup and Hairstyling. The problem with that is why should we deem one award more important than the others? Are not all equally vital components to the filmmaking process and worthy of their chance to be on camera in the limelight? Not to mention that you could argue without editing and cinematography, we wouldn’t have movies in the first place, so sidelining them is incredibly insulting. Some conspiracy theorists would postulate that the only common thread that could be found as to why these four categories, in particular, were cut is because there are no Disney nominees in them. Considering Disney owns ABC, the official broadcaster, this would not be surprising.

Thankfully, this last decision has been overturned as well by the Academy, though only after heavy complaints and backlash from the rest of the film industry. But with so much flip-flopping from the organisers of things to do and then not do, you kind of get the impression that not only do they not understand what the audience wants, but they’re also oblivious to the very industry they are claiming to represent. So while it’s had a good run for over 90 years, it might be time for award shows like The Oscars to finally start losing the limelight.

No matter what they do though, I probably won’t watch the award shows. It’s long been said that the Oscars are really for filmmakers and not necessarily for the people who watch films, as the disconnect between awards recognition and public popularity widens. So you have to wonder, with an institution so intrinsic to the industry failing so much at being able to recognise it successfully, if there really is any worth in Hollywood continuing with it as it stands or if they should just find another way of presenting these awards instead? Or perhaps not presenting them at all? After all, with more public-friendly awards and opinions like the (shameless plug alert) Critical Hit’s Best Movies of the Year, why would you want to win anything else?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: February 19, 2019

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