Review: Oscars, Why So Serious?

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Daniel R. Durrett


Now that film fans all have red carpet rug burn we turn our bloodshot eyes past the flashes of cameras to the granddaddy of the industry “Oscar”.

The Golden Globes, Grammys and Screen Actors Guild awards brought their own surprises and accolades.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awards has had a tough road as of recent years with lower ratings and expects to set new lows this year.

In a bewildering choice the Academy, after having fired Kevin Hart, is going to broadcast with no host.

Historically, not a good choice the last time the Oscars ran host-less was the epically bashed 61st Academy Awards opening with a 25-year old Rob Lowe singing a musical rendition of “Proud Mary,” changing its lyrics to, “Keep the cameras rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ in a duet with Snow White.

The Oscars that year was so bad it was believed to have ended the career of ‘Grease’ Producer Allan Carr who helmed the show’s broadcast. When watching the broadcast, on YouTube, I found the cringe plastered across Robert Downey Jr.’s face view worthy.

Aug 8, 2018 the AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson announced the addition of the “Achievement in Popular Film” Oscar category. Bringing attention of the mainstream theater-going crowd to raise Oscar broadcast ratings.

However due to the backlash from Academy members and social media the decision was made to postpone the new categories’ addition to this Oscar ceremony.

Viewership dove by 20 percent from last year, when nearly 33 million people watched the 2017 Oscars. The 2017 Oscars saw was the lowest number of viewers since 2008, when the broadcast drew in 32 million viewers.

Have the Oscars become the award show equivalent of hanging out with your grandfather? He is full of medication to deal with depression, anxiety and might be a little drunk.

The Academy has become so politically correct, that ten-year-old Tweets and performance material of a comedian require his dismissal as host.

Billions in box office revenue and the top thirty-four films earning over $100 million during 2018. It seems to me that celebrating that level of accomplishment for your industry would be a simple task. However, the Academy is being tasked by ABC to keep the broadcast under three hours

Originally, the Academy had selected four categories to shorten by cutting Cinematography, Film Editing, Make-Up/ Hairstyling and Live Action Short Film from the live broadcast.

Just like the live broadcast, I will provide you with an overview of the major nominations and those hits and what I feel were some major misses.

Starting with Best Picture where many were surprised to see Black Panther in the mix for the Best Picture other than Black Panther and all eight films are standouts in their own way. These films do provide the reason to add a Popular Film category because in many ways the popular film followed typically close to the Oscar-winning film for Visual Effects.

Just as the front running film that is expected to win the Oscar for Visual Effects, “Avengers: Infinity War”, but in the past decade the level of a film has jumped to where the visually stunning films are a complete picture with vast storylines and unique characterizations.

Providing recognition to this level of a film is not a misstep, but Achievements in Popular Film is a suspicious title that feels levied by film snobs who are jealous of the billion dollars brought to bear by the film’s winning box office totals. Almost any other title would be better Popular Film, Best Box-office Movie, anything… The Bodhizafa Blockbuster would be a better title.

However just as the industry backlash to the announcement of the Popular Film category addition the Academy has reversed the decision to reverse the four categories from the live broadcast.

Much like an elderly grandfather, Oscars will classify Actors and also Actress’ Awards from the professional working term actor which has been declared unisex. Making award shows Hollywood’s only acceptable place for gender discrimination.

The Academy is in a unique place with the box office totals are so successful, standout Actor portrayals like Rami Malik as Freddy Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice”, were dependent upon of the Make-Up and Hair Stylist to succeed in their respective nominations, those Oscars should be celebrated as part of the live broadcast.

The live broadcast will also not including the awards for Costume Design and this action is ignoring the accomplishment that garnished the Best Supporting Actress nomination to Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz as well as their leading lady’s nomination for Best Actress where Olivia Colman’s characterization was heavily partnered with her wardrobe within “The Favorite”.

Glenn Close, however, did it all on her own including probably running all the craft services on the set of “The Wife”, and after seven Oscar nominations and currently no wins. Give her the damn statue.

The Academy awards having been an annual affair for nearly a century, all changes will have to be slow, much like long walks with your own grandfather.

My plea to the Academy for this host-less ninety-first Academy Awards is to accomplish three tasks for this year’s Oscars to succeed;

The audience doesn’t get a single host they are provided many, “A” list stars who can skillfully remind us why we went to the movies this last year.

Melissa McCarthy is in the running for Best Actress for her work playing a deceptive biographer in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and she has also received a nomination for a Razzie, which celebrates the worst of the Hollywood box-office, for her work playing a Muppet homicide detective.  Such distinctive effort provides the framework of a superlative presenter for this year’s Oscars.

McCarthy’s double nomination has only ever been achieved by her “Heat” Co-star Sandra Bullock, the year she won the Oscar for “The Blind Side” and the Razzie for “All About Steve”.

I’m sure the Academy is required to hire at least one Baldwin, Franco or Hemsworth.

Secondly, blockbuster presentations of the Oscar-nominated songs by the artist you love to hear. If the presenters jokes fall flat and the expected winners are disappointed. The show can still thrive with the performance of the music nominated.

The real reason Lady GaGa no longer wears a meat dress to awards dinners, Oscar. If she brings her musical talent to the performance, she will head home a winner even if she wins an Oscar or not. She is twice nominated for Best Actress and Best Original Song. Music in many of these films is the soul within the story and it’s that intersection that is special for film fans. These live musical recitals should capture the unique intersection story and song to present these films in a visual manner on stage that will provide a memorable Oscars.

And deliver the third accomplishment to fulfill the lives and hearts of most every film fan by awarding Spike Lee the best director award for “BlackKklansman”, since he should have received it for his best film “Do the Right Thing”.

My big question is for the Oscars why worry about adding new movie categories just add more fun. The Oscars maybe making a step in the right direction by removing the host but they must add big productions numbers of the music of that year’s nominated songs.

Otherwise, film fans would be best to view a television broadcast to the Razzies. They may be considered the worst films of the year but that show would have a great sense of humor, as the

Razzie motto goes ‘Own Your Bad’. “We’re hoping to have it broadcast next year for our 40th Awards Ceremony”, stated Mo Murphy Razzie Awards Co-owner.

However, if the Oscars continue to proceed in such an arthritic manner then the attendees may require the Golden Globes open bar policy.

15th Dallas International Film Festival