You may know it, and you may not believe it, but Oscar season is officially upon us. The nominations are out, the ceremony’s host has been confirmed, and corny speeches are being prepared. Few events encapsulate an industry, and a city for that matter, quite like the Oscars ceremony. Its latest, 90th installment is to be held on the 4th March at the Kodak theatre, in Los Angeles, as per tradition. Inevitably, the ceremony will attract huge media hype. Questions will be asked about the nominations: Are they diverse enough? Are the films good enough?
Moreover, following a number of high-profile blunders in the past few years, questions will be asked about the Oscars’ legitimacy. Have they lost their way? Are they overhyped? This year could make or break the film industry, and with the integrity of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on the line, they need to adapt, if they are to stand any chance of survival.
Are The Oscars Overrated?
The Oscars are, traditionally, the pinnacle of the film industry. A film that is awarded an Oscar, in any category, will generate worldwide fame and fortune. Its cast will be made into superstars (if they are not already), and anybody associated with the movie will have something to brag to their grandchildren about for decades to come. But recently, things have been a little different.
With the rise of TV series’ and online streaming platforms, other award ceremonies have threatened to conquer the coveted summit of film critique. The Golden Globes have been more diverse and interesting in the films and actors/actresses they have chosen over the past three years.
Furthermore, the Golden Globes host this year, Seth Meyers, set the bar high when it came to handling awards ceremonies. His jokes were relevant and funny, which is something that a number of Oscars hosts have failed miserably to achieve over the last few years. Jimmy Kimmel will return as the Oscars host this year, and hopefully he will have taken a leaf out of Meyers’ book, especially when it comes to handling sensitive topics. Kimmel handled the ceremony well last year, but he must not overuse themes, and keep the event flowing nicely. For starters, Kimmel could do well to begin with a joke on last year’s (in)famous Oscars moment: the Moonlight/La La Land mix-up.
The Academy was not directly responsible for the change in envelopes, which resulted in the Best Picture mix-up. Nonetheless, it took some criticism for the way that the mistake was handled, and they will have to prove to audiences around the world that they can organise such an event seamlessly. The mix-up was also the third consecutive time that the Oscars ceremony stood in the limelight for the wrong reasons. The previous year had been blighted by a lack of diversity among the nominations, and the two years before had had poor hosts. For the last three years, something has gone wrong with every Oscars ceremony, and audiences are getting fed up.
Interestingly, one aspect of the Oscars ceremony that has often received criticism has, in recent years, been its greatest asset: the acceptance speeches. Gone are the days of crying Gwyneth Paltrow in 1999, or George Clooney saying he was ‘proud to be out of touch’ in 2006. Granted, the political climate that the ceremonies find themselves in and the issues regarding the film industry have given stars plenty of issues to speak out on.
Nonetheless, the fact is that powerful acceptances speeches, such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s in 2016 and Patricia Arquette’s in 2015 have used the awards ceremony as a platform for highlighting important issues. Hopefully, with the advent of the ‘thank you scroll’, audiences will even be treated to speeches that eventually refrain from thanking a neverending list of contributors and helpers. Actors/Actresses, we know you’re thankful, but think of the poor audience!
The Oscars undoubtedly offer memorable moments. Between speeches, dresses, suits, or jokes, the ceremonies always leave us with something to talk about. Are they overhyped? Absolutely. This may be why people love them, but the Academy need to change things up soon if they are to survive as an institution. In an age of sound-bites and short video clips, the ceremony clearly needs shortening, and the speeches need to be more interesting. More DiCaprio, less Paltrow.
The Oscars are fun. They are the epitome of the size, glitz, and glamour of the film industry, but they have become stagnant. They have to evolve, to become more relevant, and appeal to a wider audience if they are to compete with the likes of the Golden Globes or even the Baftas. Only then can they truly deserve the hype that is bestowed upon them.