February 23, 2009

How To Fix The Oscars

Time Magazine has an article out called "How To Fix The Oscars."

Based on waning popularity of the event, they suggest (among other things) making the vote tabulations public, so that people can know how close a race every award was, who came in second, etc. I can see how that would increase the excitement of the event, but it's not the problem I have with the Oscars.

My problem is that I rarely see the majority of the movies that are in contention. We've got kids and we rarely have time during the school year to get out and see the nominated films.

So my suggestion for fixing the Oscars would be some deal that allowed easy home access to all (or nearly all) Oscar-nominated films. Make them available through Pay-Per-View on cable. Make them available for rental via Amazon's Video on Demand. Strike a deal with Netflix. I'd pay to see them.

I no longer have time to seek these films out at small theaters. And Maggie and I aren't always in the mood to see the same sort of film at the same time, so we default to things we both can relax with when we do go out. if I haven't seen the films, why would I want to see a bunch of cute references to the films, put to lousy music? Already I'm not a big fan of awards ceremonies.

So, if anyone cares, there's my solution. I didn't have any stake in the Oscars this year because I had very little feeling about any of the films in contention. If it were easier for me to see the films, I might be interested in watching the Oscars.

Posted by James at February 23, 2009 9:48 AM
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We're in the same boat. We almost never get to see a movie until well after it's left theaters.

I am really down on the whole entertainment industry awards thing as it is. Part of it is that I'm in the same boat as you. Another part is I think they have become way more important than they really are. A third part is my general disdain for today's "celebrity" class.

The three things I took away from last night:

1. What an incredible talent Hugh Jackman really is.

2. The Japanese animator saying "Domo arigato Mr. Roboto" in his acceptance speach rocked.

3. The part where they remember those who died this year is typically the part of the show I enjoy the most. This year it pissed me off the most. I don't want panoramic views of multiple screens while someone sings "I'll Be Seeing You". I want the images of the passed to fill my TV so I can see them up close and read their names.

Posted by: Bull at February 23, 2009 11:44 AM

I think you've hit on some other reasons the Oscars are a miss with so many folks.

The entertainment industry is self-focused, but really that's part of who they are. Most groups or industries overestimate their own importance, and it's perhaps inevitable that show business is going to make a bigger show of themselves rather than an accurate reflection of their place in the world.

To be fair, they're about fantasy and escapism, so an accurate reflection is not part of their goal.

But something else you said reveals a problem that threatens these ceremonies and all of the entertainment industry.

The spectacle you describe in the tribute to those whom we have lost seems more focused on spectacle and not focused on the individuals. But perhaps more of a problem is that it's not considerate of you, the viewer.

Entertainment is an art, and if art is going to be meaningful, it has to connect with the audience on a personal level. They need to use the medium to make the experience *more* personal, not less so.

Posted by: James at February 23, 2009 12:20 PM

I just wrote a long comment that got pooched b/c I forgot my email address, so I'll be brief.

I wish the Oscars were brief. One hour is enough, and let's limit it to the stuff people care about and understand. If the actual event has to be much longer so these show biz people can have their big night, then do it earlier in the day and just show us an hour of the best fun.

And I agree with everything you guys said, too. (Except I didn't know Hugh Jackman was talented.) I don't watch the movies, I like books better, and think these people, the actors especially, overvalue themselves.

But it's easy to remedy, I just don't watch it. :-P

Posted by: Maggie at February 23, 2009 1:11 PM

I agree with everything you guys have said thus far. The only things I go to see in the theaters are stuff with the kids (rarely), and stuff that is not likely to win an Oscar (even more rarely).

Wolverine and Watchmen are both out soon, so I'll try to get to those. But I'll likely have to see those on the small screen like I will for Dark Night.

Posted by: briwei at February 23, 2009 1:15 PM

I haven't been to the movies in over a year, so I was especially uninterested this year. But I'd be up for more time on the awards and less time (like, none at all) on "spectacle."

Generally, I care more about the Emmys, but my complaints about those are similar.

There are many awards, mostly technical, that aren't even mentioned during the televised event. (Sometimes they mention a few technical awards but never all of them.) When I do watch, I always wish I could see more of those.

I really don't care about who people are wearing, red carpet BS, etc. nor the hours of pre-show coverage and the weeks of hype, but most people find that stuff more interesting than the awards themselves. Maybe the people who put on the awards show should focus more on that. (Which would make it even less watchable for me... oh well)

Particularly painful last night was that Fox devote the evening to NASCAR racing. So, no cartoons. Blech. What's Sunday without the Simpsons?

That would be my advice on how to improve Oscar night: I'd ask other networks to run something I want to see.

Posted by: Julie at February 23, 2009 2:01 PM

You know, it's odd -- I don't think I remember ever watching the Emmys. The reason I say it's odd is because I do watch TV shows, some of which have won Emmys.

Posted by: James at February 23, 2009 2:08 PM

I never see the movies either, so I don't even see the point of tuning in. James, I LURVE your idea of having them all available on Pay-Per-View or HBO On Demand or something like that so people can check out the ones that got all the Oscar buzz before the awards.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at February 23, 2009 6:29 PM

I'm in the opposite camp: I go out to the movies about once a week, usually alone (more frequently during film-festival season), and dislike watching movies on TV, but I still support your idea. They could even incorporate a popular-vote mechanism into the Oscar channel, like People's Choice.

Posted by: Nancy at February 23, 2009 11:44 PM

AMC Movie Theaters offered an Oscar Movie Deal this past Saturday (2/21). You were able to watch all five Best Picture Nominees and fill your face with unlimited popcorn for 30 bucks a person.


Unfortunately, the closest AMC location that was offering this was in Framingham...

It still doesn't solve your dilemma of what to do with the kids for 13+ hours, but I guess it's a start...

FYI - The Visitor (Richard Jenkins - Best Actor Nomination) is already available via Netflix "Watch Instantly".

Posted by: bigsam27 at February 24, 2009 1:21 AM

Ah, thanks! I will add it to my Watch Instantly queue.

Posted by: James at February 24, 2009 7:44 AM

How do you watch your Netflix Watch Instantly movies? I'm thinking of getting the Roku...


Posted by: bigsam27 at February 24, 2009 12:14 PM

I use a Roku, which Maggie got me for my birthday. Before that, we would gather around the computer and darken the room. Not the most convenient.

Posted by: James at February 24, 2009 12:20 PM

Some new Blu-Ray players come with streaming Netflix movies. A friend of mine bought a Samsung BD-P2550 which can also play Pandora music.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2009 8:55 PM

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