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