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Don't move the Oscars up to January! Push them back to April!

June 23, 2010 | 10:54 am

The Oscars are foolishly considering a move in the wrong direction! They shouldn't be jumping up to January. Instead, they should move back to late March/early April where they used to be before the current "problems" popped up by their move to February in 2004 (for the 2003 film year). Previously, everybody loved where the awards used to be. And they liked the winners. So why not return?

The only reason the Oscars switched to February was because they wanted the ceremony closer to "TV sweeps" so they could draw more viewers and charge more for ads. The price they paid was a loss of suspense. Now it occurs immediately after a string of other kudos that inevitably influence and — worse — upstage the Oscar outcome. Even worse than that: TV viewership and advertising revenue didn't boom.

Oscars Academy Awards News-2

However, back when the Oscars were doled out in late March/early April, TV Nielsens were fine and the Academy Awards had more suspense. Voters often got bored with the early winners of Golden Globes and critics' and guild awards and ditched, for example, Javier Bardem ("Before Night Falls") and Tom Hanks ("Cast Away") for Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") in the best-actor battle of 2000 and Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") for Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") as best actress of 2001.

Ideally, there are two reasons for the Oscars to exist:

1.) Promote a discussion of great filmmaking

2.) Cast a spotlight on the nominees so everybody sees those films, which are rewarded financially

The longer the Oscar derby continues the more we will all be engaged in a worthwhile discussion of great filmmaking. That's a good thing.

In recent years, nominated films tended to be small art-house flicks like "The Hurt Locker" and "Precious." Those are just the kinds of films that need more attention and time in theaters.

Furthermore, with a longer derby season, voters will get more time to reflect on their choices. Invariably, that means they'll be less influenced by the precursor awards and more likely to disagree. The only argument in favor of moving up the Oscars to January is to satisfy the impatience of greedy Hollywooders, who confuse this award with an iPad. Just because they want to know the winners's list now, now, now doesn't mean we have to give it to them. Don't great movies build suspense and make the audience wait? When the grand finale is revealed, it's appreciated all the more. Hollywooders, of all people, are supposed to know that — and value that.

The iPad will end up in tomorrow's trash. The Oscar is supposed to be forever.

What do other Oscarologists think of the potential move? Here's a roundup of reax.

Illustration by Tom O'Neil

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Comments

I think you're forgetting that ratings were going down, already when the ceremony was held in March, but it is true that moving the date to February did not seem to help.
One of the arguments of moving the ceremony back to March is that voters will have more time to reflect, which I can see the logic in. However back when the ceremony was held in March people were complaining that voters had too much time to be influenced by very aggressive 'for your consideration' campaigns, which was also one of the reasons that the ceremony was moved to February.
You are saying that film like 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Precious' are the kind of films that need more time in theatres, yet both films got several Oscar nominations, for the February ceremony, so how is that an argument for moving the ceremony to March?
Actually it seems like more independent films has been nominated since the ceremony was moved to February. Maybe this has something to do with the shorter 'FYC' campaigns, in which case a move to March/April would not help.

Most people who aren't in the business of writing about all the award shows really get tired of the hoopla. I like the suggestion someone had last year of just having a two week
Award Season every spring. A Hollyood version of the Olympics, perhaps. Every day a new guild award or critics show. Leading up to the oscars the final night, like the closing ceremonies. Two weeks of frenzied excitement. The drawn out awards season is like the oscar show itself -- much too long.

I agree with you Tom -- voters simply don't have time to watch all the films, especially when years that they choose smaller films that no one has seen and will probably never see because they won't get released. Why do the Oscars want to push themselves earlier -- they just lose their prestige. Remember no voter is forced to watch every film, they can vote for whoever they want -- Let me ask all of you naysayers, do you see all the films nominated before the ceremony? So asking oscar voters to do the same is insane by Moving them to January which will not help with the holidays and such. If the oscars want a return to prestige, they would want to distance themselves from other awards shows, not once again bully it's way into january where all the awards shows will be coming at you all at once.

Don't Move The Oscars.'Bout time we started doing things that actually work! When did tradition become a dirty word? If judges need to the coat tails of the other nods for films maybe they're the wrong folks for the job. Hey, I'm no intellectual just a film lover. Let's stop rewarding eccentricity as if it were genius.

So Tom you want to reward undeserving performances like Gladiator and undeserving Actors like Halle Berry over the great and superior Sissy Spacek!?!?!? Cr@zy who you izz!! bwahahahahaha!!!!!!

Add to my last comment: It was the 1940 LA Times leak that caused the Academy to abandon pre-show winner's press releases and adopt the now-famous sealed envelopes. Every year since, only the one or two high-level partners of PwC (or Price Waterhouse before it) who seal the envelopes know what's in them before they're opened; the Academy wants to keep it that way.

Some of thw folks pushing January are also using their 15 minutes of fame to take potshots at the lack of technology in the Oscar process--they say "PwC still counts the ballots BY HAND???" as if it were something barbaric. It's not; PwC intentionally conducts the Oscar balloting old-school because only that way assures 100% secrecy, and has for 70 years. (The last Oscar leak was from none other than the LA Times, who broke a press-release embargo in 1940 to trumpet GWTW's Best Picture win in its evening editions--visible to celebs arriving on the red carpet.) If they move to January, either (a) PwC would have to change the voting system (think how much the tabloids would pay for leaks) or (b) the Academy would have to abandon the calendar year for an earlier awards year (thus the Oscars would commit one of the Grammys' greatest sins). NO WAY!!!

You want the Oscars moved back to April so you get more money. The longer the Oscar race goes, the more you get to write about it and the more FYC ads you get to run The Oscars should happen as soon as possible, which would be in the last couple of weeks in January.

Good idea! It's right after Christmas.

Having the Oscars in February is just fine. The problem lies with all these other "guild" awards or senseless movie awards (except the Golden Globes) which end up killing the suspense come Oscar time. The nominees and winners end up being too predictable and we just end up losing interest. It's time to do away with so many critics awards and such. It hinders the Oscars, not helps it.

I disagree with the writer's statement -- "Ideally, there are two reasons for the Oscars to exist." 1.) Promote a discussion of great filmmaking 2.) Cast a spotlight on the nominees so everybody sees those films, which are rewarded financially." Really? Two reasons only? Maybe for you. For millions of viewers it's to see who WINS for Best Picture, Actor, Actress, etc. It may only be a popularity contest, but it's highly valued by the fans. They're not interested in "discussing great filmmaking" or casting "a spotlight on the nominees." The Oscars exist for them as a yardstick for what the industry sees as its best in any given year.

Rea

Amen! I am so sick of awards shows; 90 percent are unnecessary and just total ego-fests. The Oscars, at least, still carry a sense of real legitimacy and real sheen.
Please, Academy, we lovers of that event ask you to move it to back to springtime! It's quite fitting.

I do agree that the Oscars have been a little early sometimes in February, but I think pushing them back to late March/April is a bit much. When they aired this year is probably a good point to stick with, though I do remember the Oscar race losing some steam this year because there was a full two-week gap between the Golden Globe Awards ceremony and the announcement of the Oscar nominees. If the gap between the two isn't going to allow for the possibility for surprise Golden Globe winners to make it onto Oscar ballots, which it didn't this year, I don't think there should be a gap at all. The Oscar derby, for me, is something that really gets going around November and just keeps getting more exciting as time goes on, until Oscar nominations are announced and then winner predictions start. Having a lull right in the middle just isn't worth the wait.


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