Every year the Academy Awards take what should be a glamorous, exciting night of celebrating the best in film and turn it into a long-ass, painfully slow, bloated night of smug self-satisfaction. The Oscars are boring, and dull, and even the wittiest comedians magically become un-funny when asked to host. Every year the producers (this year it’s Ben Mechanic and Adam Shankman again) say they’re going to shorten the show, boost ratings, bring the magic back. Every year we get the same flat, unimaginative, grating broadcast. So what exactly is wrong with the Osars? Why are they so boring and lackluster? I’ve identified the following three areas as the biggest trouble spots: montages, pacing, and speeches. Let’s break down what’s wrong and how to fix it.
There are too many of them. The Oscars will a show a montage for anything. Best kisses of the year, best explosions of the year, best movie old people of the year. The only montage needed is the In Memoriam. Everything else can go. Cut out everything but In Memoriam and you can shave a solid ten minutes off the broadcast. This also eliminates useless presenters. Typically when the list of presenters is released, you look at it and see some celebrities that induce head-scratching. You think, Why are they going to the Oscars? Answer: to introduce a montage. Eliminating montages not only reduces the running time of the show, it cuts out some of the pointless presenters and awkward patter.
The Oscars drag on and on and on. Every year they introduce new ways to speed up the show (this year it involves moving platforms), and every year they fail. I actually thought last year’s show was moving at a nice clip, montages and all, until they hit the acting awards. After much build up about a “surprise” during the broadcast, it turned out that five former winners of that award were to present it to the winner, to sort of “welcome them to the club”. It’s a nice thought and a touching gesture, but the reality is it killed the pacing of the show. Everything ground to a halt as the five presenters salivated all over each nominee individually. It took like ten minutes to present one acting award, not counting the speech. This year, they’re keeping the five-presenter format, but instead of past winners the group will be made of friends and peers of the nominees, to…I don’t know show off their showbiz connections or something. End result: the presentation of the acting awards will once again kill the pacing of the show. Stick with one presenter and cut out the stupid patter while you’re at it.
This is a little bit tougher because you don’t want to deny the winners the chance to thank those that helped them achieve this success. People work their whole lives to win an Oscar, and they do deserve to say their thank you’s. And we at home don’t begrudge this—while watching the Oscars, note how annoyed everyone gets when the orchestra starts cutting off the winner. The problem is, the famous people tend to talk too much. During the show compare the thank you speeches of the non-famous winners—the people who win for costuming, sound mixing, visual effects, et cetera, to the famous actors and directors. In the end, they’ll all thank the same people: God, their families, their friends, their producers/directors, and maybe their agent. Yet a famous person will take twice as long to thank the exact same number of people as the non-famous person. Why is this? I think it’s the smug. The smug overtakes everything. And also, the tears. Usually the famous winners cry and heave and sob, while the non-famous winners, though visibly excited to have won, somehow hold it together. Famous people aren’t articulate? I don’t know. I’ve just noticed over the years that generally everyone, famous or not, thanks the same number of people but it takes the famous twice as long to do it. Famous people should take a page from their non-famous peers?
A quick note on the matter of retaining one’s Oscar
I hate it when an actor wins an Academy Award and then goes on to make shitty movies for years after. (I’m looking at you, Nicolas Cage.) I would like to establish The Committee to Set Things Right in order to make sure the appropriate people are receiving the highest honor in entertainment. For instance, Cuba Gooding, Jr. won a Best Supporting Actor award for Jerry Maguire, but then he made Snow Dogs. So I am revoking his Oscar and giving it to Greta Garbo because I cannot believe one of the greatest actresses of all time never won an Oscar. Nicolas Cage actually gets to hang onto his Oscar for another year thanks to his performance in The Bad Lieutenant last year, but the instant National Treasure 3: Secretier Secrets comes out, I will be giving his Oscar to Johnny Depp. The Depp > Nicolas Cage. Always.
A really short addendum about ravening wolves
Everything is more exciting when there’s a pack of ravening wolves roaming about. Just saying.