Commentary: Don’t take an Oscar winner’s triumphant stage walk


In a desperate bid to shorten the Oscar show’s runtime, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that it will cancel the live presentation of the Oscars in eight categories from the show, which begins March 27 at 5 p.m. would shorten. Instead, the awards ceremony for Film Editing, Make-up and Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Sound, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live-Action Short presented the hour before at the Dolby Theater. At that hour, nominees, guests and presenters will be in the audience, and edited clips of winners accepting their awards will be woven throughout the television show.

Bad idea. Oh I see why they did it. These are not the awards won by glamorous actors and actresses and directors that most viewers would want to see. Those are the awards when some people take a toilet break. So why not sacrifice them to shorten the runtime of a show that regularly runs for more than three hours? But I suspect the move won’t save the show from its steep ratings drop, and it probably won’t save that much time.

Whether you win an Oscar for Lead Actress or Production Designer, you deserve a few minutes to get on stage, receive your Oscar, and deliver your acceptance speech on the show. You’ve probably been writing this speech since third grade (who hasn’t?) and dreaming of the really unlikely moment when you could deliver it to an audience to see it in person and on TV.

The five craft awards banned from the live show are all crucial to making a film. This is the one night when these artists are lifted from their “bottom line” designation in the Hollywood box system and given their rightful right as indispensable collaborators in the filmmaking process.

And do you find the short films inconspicuous? Remember that film about menstruation and the stigma surrounding it that won the Oscar for Short Documentaries in 2019? I certainly do, and I bet a lot of the women who watched remember, too. “I’m not crying because I’m on my period, I’m crying because a movie about menstruation just won an Oscar!” exclaimed director Rayka Zehtabchi upon accepting the award for Period. End of sentence.”

The Academy’s decision drew criticism from numerous Hollywood filmmakers, including directors Jane Campion and Steven Spielberg, who are both nominated this year. And more than 70 film professionals, including Oscar-winning directors James Cameron and Guillermo del Toro and Oscar-winning composer John Williams, signed a letter to Academy President David Rubin urging the decision to be reversed, saying that some disciplines to “the status of a second-class citizen.”

There is no doubt that television broadcasting is in trouble. Ratings plummeted to an all-time low last year and the show ran for 3 hours and 19 minutes. The show has been running for over three hours for decades. The 2002 Academy Awards, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, holds the record for the longest show at 4 hours 23 minutes. (The 2012 show lasted just under 3 hours and 13 minutes.) Academy officials said the show runs after 11 p.m. on the East Coast and they are losing a significant number of viewers.

But it’s an awards show, not a soap opera or sitcom. Yes, there should be some organic drama, but it’s the ultimate in real life television show where people will be amazing or boring or smart or silly. The most memorable show of the past few years was the 2017 show, which contained arguably the biggest blunder in Oscars history, when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the best picture winners as “La La Land,” only to end up with producer Jordan Horowitz to collaborate announcement on stage, “There is a mistake. ‘Moonlight’ – you won best picture.” The next few seconds caused a stir in living rooms and newsrooms everywhere – including this one. How long was this show? who cared?

Of course, the academy can’t count on a colossal mishap when it comes to the ratings. However, a shortened show cannot be expected either. It takes a great host. This year, three talented women are taking the helm. Let’s see if that works. It takes great presenters that viewers want to see.

A producer recently told me that winning an Oscar is more important for your career than accepting it on stage. True. But an Oscar winner should have the chance to do both. Commentary: Don’t take an Oscar winner’s triumphant stage walk

Caroline Bleakley

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