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Stop, Oscar -- you're heading in the wrong direction!

October 6, 2010 | 10:30 am

As the L.A. Times reports, the motion picture academy continues to investigate how to move the ceremony up into January so the Oscars can "steal back some of the thunder from other award shows and boost TV ratings."

Oscars move academy awards newsAcademy President Tom Sherak, who heads a committee weighing the date switch, says, "I think we would like to do it. Progress is being made, but we don't have it all right just yet .... In today's world, everybody wants it now. People don't want to wait. You need to stay relevant."

Chiefly, the Oscars are worried about the thunder issue. They appear less relevant nowadays because they seem to be just rubber-stamping the choices made earlier by the critics' awards, guild prizes and Golden Globes. Well, the reason that's occurring is because the Oscars are bunched so close together with other kudos and are -- thanks to herd mentality -- hugely affected by them.

This wasn't such a big deal when the Oscars took place in late March/early April. Academy members got bored with what the critics and Golden Globes picked in December and January, and academy members chose "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), "The Sting" (1973), "Chariots of Fire" (1981) and "Braveheart" (1995) for best picture instead. In the battle over best actor of 2000, Javier Bardem ("Before Night Falls") and Tom Hanks ("Cast Away") led the early rounds, but then Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") slayed all rivals in the Oscar coliseum. One year later, Sissy Spacek ("In the Bedroom") swept the early trophies for best actress, but then Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") suddenly dashed ahead to win in the home stretch.

That was because there used to be lots of lead time ahead of the Oscars -- time for voters to change their minds. But then academy chiefs wanted to push up the ceremony date into February sweeps so they could boost TV ratings and hike ad dollars. The Oscarcast moved there in 2004 (for the 2003 film year) and, alas, Nielsens didn't jump.

The Oscars suddenly began agreeing with precursor awards more than ever. It looked like all they were doing was rubber-stamping the Globes, guilds' and critics' kudos. Now, to resolve that conflict, the Oscars want to do what everybody does to everybody else in competitive Hollywood -- upstage them. That's not going to happen. The critics' groups and Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. are small and feisty. They'll always find a way to stay out front and, when they vote, their results will become widely known and copied, given how human nature works. That means copied by Oscar voters.

Oscar is running in the wrong direction. He needs to head back to late March/early April.

There's one more big advantage to the Oscarcast occurring then: nominated films stay in theaters longer. Since those tend to be the quality-art house kind, they need the extra exposure and revenue.

Photo: AMPAS

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Comments

There really isn't a solution to this issue. If the show is held in January, then a lot of late released smaller films will be overlooked as there won't be enough time for many to see them. If they stay as they are, it seems as though there are a lot of awards shows all crammed together in a short period of time diminishing the revelance of all of them and if they go back to March, as in the past, there will be less interest in them as people have moved on. And remember, when the Academy moved them to February, all the others just moved up there awards presentations to still be revealed prior to the Oscars. Who's to say that won't happen again if they are moved to January and it becomes and even tighter log jam of awards? They all want to come before the Oscars as they all know they are yesterday's news after the Oscars. If I had to pick, I'd say keep them the way they are. January is too soon & will hurt some film's chances and March is just too far away from the year that they are celebrating, but again, there is no real answer to this. And just to add in my two cents, I think Hanks was wonderful in Cast Away, but so was Crowe in Gladiator. It is one of the most impressive physical performances I've ever seen. He deserved it more the following year for A Beautiful Mind, but that's the Academy!

No matter if the Oscars are held in Janury or in March, voters SHOULD actually watch the nominated films and decide for themselves and this will change a lot. The Emmys are full of surprises because voters DO watch the submissions. Oscar voters (most of the time) copy the winners of the Globes/guilds/critics awards. While I wasn't around when the Oscars were held in March (my childhood memories include only the early 2000's Oscars), I agree that there were surprises back then. A Roman Polanski win wouldn't happen these days, because there would be no time for it to happen. Back then, Todd Haynes and Almodovar won most of the critics, Scorsese won the Globe, Marshall won the DGA and Polanski won the BAFTA & Oscar. He had some critics as well. Nowadays the winner is clear right after the Globes. In the acting categories we don't have variety. Last year: Mo'Nique all around. 2008: Cruz won most of the critics and with Winslet out of supporting, she was unbeatable. 2007: The ONLY variety we got. 2006: Hudson all around, with some foreign actresses taking some wins.
But take a look at 1998 for example: LAFCA - Joan Allen, NYFCC - Lisa Kudrow, NSFC - Judi Dench, BFCA - (tie) Allen & Kathy Bates, Golden Globe: Lynn Redgrave, SAG: Kathy Bates, OSCAR: JUDI DENCH. They had at least a few really strong contenders. Take 2000, take 1995, 1996... Even 1997. Today we don't have time for voters to actually watch the movies, for the climate to change. And I think it works against the Oscars.

I think the best solution would be (if not to move the Oscars back to March) to allow voters to vote in only the categories they're experts in. And this will change one thing - voters will have enough time to actually watch the nominees in this categories and decide for themselves. Think about that. You have the best cinematography category. AVATAR is the front-runner. But you actually watch all five and you think that it should be THE WHITE RIBBON. And if enough voters actually see it, it could win. Because, believe me, if voters have to decide between the buzz and what they think, they'll go with their own idea of what's best. Juliette Binoche, Marcia Gay Harden prove that.

Call the Berry/Crowe wins mistakes if you will but at least it led to some exciting moments and surprises instead of the same old, same old winners at every award show (except for Mo'Nique last year -- any other winner for any of the awards would have been dumb since hers was the finest performance across the board).

March is best. Gives people plenty of time to see the nominated movies and build some interest in what is going on. Plus, it spaces out the all the awards and gives non-award junkies a break.

They seem to forget that for viewers to be interested, they need to be given the chance to see the movies nominated. For those of us who live outside LA and New York, we don't get some of the films until late January, and even early February. We won't have the time to get to them all.

Yes, the Oscars may be moved to January and February and be more relevant. I would also like to see more dancing and choreography.

I dunno what the answer is to be honest. I know as a film fan I enjoy the other awards shows much better. But I don't know if that's just because the Oscars are a foregone conclusion by the time they come around or because of all the changes they've made in the last decade, like kicking the oldies off the show. Maybe being in March would be better. It would also give Academy members more time to see the movies because you know they vote having only seen a handful of the nominees, if that.

The Oscars should have kept their broadcast in March. By moving them to February, it just made them "one more award show."

Keeping them in March, The Oscars would have distanced themselves from everybody; as it should be. They are not like the other awards, they're not even in the same league.

Now they want to move it up even further? Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

seems to me a rather valid argument. The other award shows will always find a way to stay before/ahead of Oscar; that is simply b/c Oscar is the final word in movie awards, so other shows need to be earlier. As the article notes, a later award date would give voters time to think about the awards & performances rather than jump on the bandwagon. Not a bad idea & there is a tv sweep month in May --- Oscar could try for that. Plus as it stands now, the Oscar telecast is boring b/c it is so predictable.

If voters changed their minds from Tom Hanks to Russell Crowe and Sissy Spacek to Halle Berry then let's move the Oscars to January so as to avoid any more huge mistakes.


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