How great was that Oscars telecast? Two sponsors got punked, Harvey Weinstein shelled out $200 for pizza and John Travolta introduced us to someone named Adele Dazeem.
And those movies … wait, what movies?
For a show that purportedly honors filmmaking, I am perpetually amazed at how little the Academy Awards broadcast seems to care about movies. Sunday’s version was particularly void of clips, insight or discussion of the craft. Instead, it relied on stars sitting in seats – not performing on screen – as its major selling point. Look, there’s Meryl Streep sitting in front of Liza Minnelli. There’s Laura Dern sitting next to her dad, Bruce. There’s Amy Adams checking her text messages.
It is long past time for the Oscars to reform and take a cue from – gasp! – the Grammys. Yes, that sounds a bit like asking Cate Blanchett to take fashion advice from Miley Cyrus. After all, the respected Oscars are the aesthetic monarch of popular awards and the ditzy Grammys the court jester. But we’re not talking about the awards themselves; we mean the TV show where the awards are given out.
The Grammys show celebrates contemporary music. Trophy distribution has been pushed into the background in favor of a concert full of performances from some of music’s biggest stars, often in combinations we will never see again. It’s simply fun to watch.
The Oscars seem less a celebration of the movies than of designer dresses and black bow ties. Sunday’s show didn’t even bother with extended clips from the Best Picture nominees; instead, we were doled out what looked like the 15-second commercial reels.
Couldn’t – shouldn’t – we see some film on Oscar night? Would it be so terrible to watch extended clips from these honor-worthy movies? To hear some nominees talk about their craft? To sic the best director nominees on one another with a camera? To take some of the comic energy spent writing jokes for the monologue and invest it in a funny short film or two for the event?
On Sunday, the show lined up the six winners of a student contest to produce 60-second films – perhaps giving us a glimpse of future Oscar winners. Maybe next year, the telecast could spare 60 seconds to show us one.
Of course, none of this will happen as long as the viewers keep tuning in for the same old boring Oscars show. Sunday night’s tedium boasted an average of 43 million viewers across its 31/2 hours, up from last year and making it – as usual – the most-watched TV show of the year that isn’t a football game.
Why spend the money and take the risk to change, when the viewers will turn up no matter how little effort is made? Instead, we’ll get more discussion of Jennifer Lawrence’s klutziness and more presenters fumbling over unrehearsed lines. Adele Dazeem thanks you.
Pepsi and Samsung shelled out money to have their products featured on the Oscars show, only to be upstaged by competitors who got in for free.
Pepsi replaced Coke this year as an official sponsor of the Academy Awards, but when those three pizzas were delivered during the show, they came in boxes with prominent Coca-Cola labels. And host Ellen DeGeneres spent a lot of time taking selfies with a carefully product-placed Samsung phone, then headed backstage and started Tweeting on her iPhone.
I’m betting somebody is going to want some money back.
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