Discuss: Suggestions for Improving the Academy Awards Telecast
by Joey Magidson
March 4, 2014
I'm sure you everyone out there is shocked to know that as much as I love the Oscars (the results of which can be found here) and more or less everything that comes with it (including my paycheck, of course), the show itself is something that I think could stand to be improved in many ways. Yes, the Oscar telecast can more often than not leave something to be desired, regardless of who you are, even if everyone involved in the production of the show always has their hearts in the right place. Some years we have better shows than others, with the same going for the winners for that matter, but I can't ever remember watching the telecast and thinking that they absolutely nailed it, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this way.
In an effort to help the Academy have the best awards show that they can possibly have, I've come up with some possible suggestions that might just improve Oscar night. It would potentially turn the show into one that appeals both to die-hard Oscar nuts like myself and the casual viewer as well, the one who watches as much as anything in order to have something to say around the water cooler the next day. In a perfect world, everyone would be equally pleased with the Super Bowl of film (as it is known in the television world).
Some of the changes I'm proposing have to do with making the nominees/winners slightly more satisfying than they sometimes are, while others have to do with just the televised ceremony itself and the production thereof. The goal here is to keep the Oscars feeling like the Oscars for those among us who truly love them, but to do so in a manner that would be perhaps more pleasing to everyone. I've got five specific ideas in mind, and I'll share them with you all now. For a recap of this year's show, see Ethan's video breakdown.
Suggestion number one involves the Best Picture lineup. A total of nine nominees just seems odd to me, so I'd propose either going back to a firm five or ten. I'm far more in favor of the latter since I like the expanded lineup, but we really gain nothing from the supposed suspense about how many nominees the category will have. The math suggests that ten is almost impossible and only a very specific sort of year will invoke the lower numbers, so we're basically locked into eight or nine nominees each year (both years with this sliding scale we've had nine nominees, in case you didn't know), and that's not very satisfying to me. Plus, if we had a mandatory ten this year, we might have seen Inside Llewyn Davis make it in (though more likely Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine would have taken the final slot) to the lineup.
Next, I'd keep something that the producers of the show seemed to be trying out this year, and that's not playing off the winners while they're giving their acceptance speeches. By and large, the speeches were better than usual (you can see the best of them here), and I think at least in part it had to do with not having to worry about the music drowning out their conclusion. Yes, some merely thanked a ton of folks, but that was lighter than in previous years, so please keep this up!
Suggestion number three is that I'd like something more for the segment honoring the deceased. Every show does a montage, but this is the Academy Awards, so can't a little something extra be done? I don't have anything too specific in mind, but perhaps some of their friends could talk a bit about them too? Bill Murray made sure to make mention of Harold Ramis when he was up as a presenter, so having him say a few words in addition to the aforementioned montage could add a touch of class to things. It might add a little time to the show, but they always go over anyway, so would this really matter all that much in the end?
Another suggestion of mine centers around effectively integrating the Oscar host. Lately, the host mainly is there for the opening monologue, and it can be awkward after that for them, and all of us too. Instead of eliminating the host altogether, as some have suggested in prior years when the host didn't blow anyone away, I think finding an appropriate fit for the year's theme will exhibit a better overall show. As a recent example, I actually think that Seth MacFarlane turned out to be a pretty good choice two years ago for a telecast that factored in music heavily, even if he wasn't the best host. By the same token Ellen DeGeneres probably did better on the whole than he did but she didn't fit the theme the show was going for.
A final suggestion is to time the show better on the whole. I hate how most years we have to rush through the final categories, when that's what we've all been waiting hours to see. It makes no sense to me that the least care is given to the Actor, Actress, Director & Picture categories. Those should be the ones with almost a whole show to themselves, right? Maybe I notice this more than most, but I do, and it bugs me a lot. They always run long, so embrace the epic nature of Hollywood's biggest night! Go all out with these ones!
Overall, there's really nothing out there that would stop me from ever watching the Oscar telecast like a hawk, so these are more loving suggestions than anything else. Last year we ran ways to Improve the Oscars for Cinephiles & General Audiences. That being said, the show could always stand to try and better itself. I have some serious doubts that it'll ever be anything close to an ideal ceremony, but that doesn't mean that the effort can't still be made on the part of perfection, right? Regardless, these are my humble suggestions and I'm sure you all have your own, so why here's a great place to discuss them. Have at it! Thoughts?