Oscars trimmed, and add a 'Popular Film' category

taraco
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taraco
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August 8th, 2018, 6:57 pm #1

Hollywood abuzz today as the Academy vows to trim show to 3 hours, hand out less popular awards during commercials, and adding a 'Popular Films' category. A reaction to record-low ratings.

That would mean, obviously, that BLACK PANTHER or MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, for example, would be confined to a Popular Film category while what the Academy considers, ahem, serious films vie for Best Picture.  In the past, this migfht have meant E.T. won Popular while GHANDI won Best Picture. Etc.

What constitutes 'Popular' -- box office? Rotten Tomatoes? anything with a spandex suit? LaLa Land? Mama Mia? Wonder Woman? Fast and Furious 12? -- will be revealed later, the Academy says.

But seems to me this is ghettoizing science fiction, action, comedy, musicals, feel-good, horror...

Here's The Hollywood Reporter story
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taraco
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August 8th, 2018, 7:08 pm #2

Here's the Hollywood Reporter story in full:


August 08, 2018 8:17am PT by Scott Feinberg

Oscars Won't Televise All Awards Live, Adds Popular Film Category


The Academy's board of governors has approved several major changes to the tradition-bound ceremony's format in the hope of retaining the dwindling number of Oscars telecast viewers it still has and luring others back into the fold ahead of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2019.

Major change is coming to the Oscars.

On Tuesday night, just five months after the lowest-rated Academy Awards telecast on record (a mere 26.5 million viewers tuned in), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors not only re-elected cinematographer John Bailey as its president, but also approved several major changes to the tradition-bound ceremony's format in the hope of retaining the viewers it still has and luring others back into the fold ahead of the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2019.

To address the concerns of those who find the show to be too long and boring (thanks largely to the current existence of 24 competitive awards, of which the general public only cares about a few), Bailey and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a letter to members that the board has "committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours."

They explain that this will be achieved partly by "present[ing] select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined)." Those categories will not be removed from the telecast; instead, "the winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast."

This new format is similar to the one employed at the Tony Awards, which are annually broadcast on CBS, to recognize some of its lower-profile categories. (The Tonys present those awards and record acceptance speeches of them during a pretelecast portion of the ceremony, rather than during commercial breaks. Presenting them during commercial breaks is probably intended to make nominees in those categories feel more integrated into the heart of the telecast.)

The fact that this change has been endorsed by the Academy's board of governors, which is dominated by representatives of "below-the-line" branches whose Oscar winners could be impacted by this, is a testament to how dire the situation is, as far as the telecast's ratings. Still, one can safely expect a groundswell of protest from some of the members of those branches.

At least as important, in terms of improving the ratings of the Oscars telecast for ABC, the Academy also said in its letter that it "will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film," adding that "[e]ligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming."

Some will complain that adding such a category cheapens the prestige of the Oscars, making it more like the People's Choice Awards or MTV Movie & TV Awards, but that is old-world thinking. More than the length of the telecast or the name of the host, Oscar ratings have been shown to correlate with the popularity of the nominated films among the general public. And the gulf between what the public buys tickets to see and what the Academy nominates and awards has never been greater.

If the popular film award (likely to be nicknamed "the Popcorn Oscar") is implemented in time for the 91st Oscars, then there is little doubt that ratings will improve, since blockbusters like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again — and their fan-favorite stars — will be guaranteed a presence at the ceremony. (One can safely assume that their backers will not have to decide whether or not to enter in competitive categories or for the popular film category, but will automatically be eligible for both; Black Panther already was expected to seriously contend for competitive nominations and awards.)

The Academy also notified members that the date for the 92nd Oscars — the one that will take place in 2020, honoring the films of 2019 — has been moved up from the previously announced Feb. 23 to Feb 9. In all likelihood, this is to combat the sense that the Oscars have become anti-climactic, coming, as it does, at the end of a months-long season in which it is preceded by dozens of awards ceremonies. Those ceremonies won't fade away as a result of the calendar change, but people inside the industry will certainly be less burned-out by the time the Oscars finally come along.

Below is the full text of the Academy's message to its members.

* * *
The Academy's message to members is below:

Dear Member,

Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast.

The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show.

Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.
To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.

2. New award category

We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.

3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars

The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process.

The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.

We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.

We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.

John Bailey and Dawn Hudson
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taraco
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August 8th, 2018, 7:09 pm #3

Oops. I mistakingly typed in 30 minutes as the length, and have since corrected it. It will be a three-hour broadcast. They said...
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Blaster
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August 8th, 2018, 7:12 pm #4

The Academy Awards is basically a joke now - and sadly, it's even presented as joke, focused on comedian presenters and put-down humor, completely losing sight of its original purpose which was to award filmmaking excellence.  I'd like to see the Awards go in the exact opposite direction, sober up and become more reverent.  The Oscars should be about our love for film and film history.  But that's pretty much lost now and I don't think there's any way to go back.  

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taraco
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August 8th, 2018, 7:17 pm #5

I'm in the minority because I love the Oscars. The longer the better. (And I hardly watch any other awards shows).

But this seems a move in the wrong direction. Better to recognize all films as eligible for Best Picture than to confine 'popular' films to a stepchild category.

Hamlet was 'popular' in its day, too.

I wonder if this will stand.

david
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TomWeaver999
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August 8th, 2018, 7:26 pm #6

<<  The Oscars should be about our love for film and film history.  <<

Mega-dittoes.

But nowadays it seems like everybody flocks to the movies with the most action, the ones designed "For Ages 6 and Up" -- and when the Oscars honor serious movies made for grown-ups, they're honoring movies that a small fraction of the Oscar audience has heard of, and a fraction of THAT has seen.

I like to CHFBoast about this once in a while, even though I know I'm repetitive: I haven't seen the Oscars in decades and I bet I haven't seen ten new movies in a theater so far this millennium. Hollywood makes an average of about three cents a year off of me, and that's the way I like it.
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InnerSanctum
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August 8th, 2018, 7:43 pm #7

Just tweeted by the Hollywood Reporter:




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Colossus Rex
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August 8th, 2018, 8:38 pm #8

Not sure how this will help the show. Because viewers who want to see AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS win a top Oscar will be get their wish?
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thehorrorboy
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August 8th, 2018, 9:09 pm #9

I'm not trying to sound like a snob, but I haven't taken the Oscars seriously in years.  Haven't seen the show in years, either.
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will
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August 8th, 2018, 9:10 pm #10

It is dumbing down the Oscars.
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August 8th, 2018, 9:19 pm #11

If this helps ratings at all, then inevitably there will be Popular Actor and Actress Oscars.  Somewhere Burt Reynolds is putting his fist through a wall.
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Crow T Robot
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August 8th, 2018, 9:30 pm #12

For years they've been wasting time on the stupid scripted "comedy" bits by the award presenters.  And then they had musical numbers - remember the dumb Snow White fiasco?  And what's with giving out all the "biggie" awards in the last half hour of the show?  sometimes they'd even have a celebrity come out to introduce the people who would actually give out the awards.  

I've always felt that they should break up the awards - 1 biggie every 20 minutes / half hour.  Cut out the comedy bits, cut down on the opening monologue, get rid of any musical numbers, and decide what awards to present that day, and move some of the awards to the technical awards show that that do a day or 2 earlier.  

If not, then cut the show down to an hour, and just televise the ones people care about / Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Actor and Actress, Best Director and Best Film.  

And go back to no more than 5 films in each category.  

Just my 2 cents.  
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August 8th, 2018, 9:35 pm #13

In 1972, I wanted the Oscars to be a little more about film merit.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa. The things we think when we're young.
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Crow T Robot
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August 8th, 2018, 10:07 pm #14

Maybe they should just announce the winner, and then toss them the award down to them in their seats.  Cut out all the jibber-jabber.
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amanaplan1
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August 8th, 2018, 10:17 pm #15

Cher won Best Actress for MOONSTRUCK.

I stopped watching before then.

I haven't watched since then.
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August 8th, 2018, 10:48 pm #16

I barely notice the Oscars. Been that way for 20 years or more.


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Colossus Rex
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August 8th, 2018, 11:49 pm #17

amanaplan1 wrote: Cher won Best Actress for MOONSTRUCK.

I stopped watching before then.

I haven't watched since then.
You shoulda been there a couple years ago when they handed out the Best Picture award to the wrong movie (MOONLIGHT)... and had to ask for it back from the celebrating cast and crew. Not a high point.
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Rick
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August 9th, 2018, 1:32 am #18

Well, once again the Academy can't win for losing. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

Of course, as the reports note, these changes are for the sake of ratings. There's no doubt about that.

But there's another aspect. Every year, every stinkin' year, people complain -- including people around here -- that the Academy has nominated a bunch of films they never heard of, a bunch of films nobody went to see. So now they add a category which will give a better chance for popular, well-known, widely-seen movies to get some award attention, and they're cheapening the award, they're selling out. Gimme a break.

As noted above, being a "popular" film does not make a movie ineligible for any other category. Just gotta get the votes, like always.

In 1991, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was the first animated film nominated for Best Picture. EVER. Not SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, not PINOCCHIO, not HOPPITY GOES TO TOWN. Then in 2001, the Best Animated Film category was created. Since then, both UP and TOY STORY 3 have gotten nominations both in the Best Animated Film and Best Film categories. So, in a numerical sense, cartoons are being nominated for Best Picture at a much, much higher rate now than they were before the Animated category was born. The new category certainly hasn't hurt cartoons in the other categories.

This doesn't even consider WALTZ WITH BASHIR which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, or AVATAR which was nominated for Best Picture and which is a cartoon in almost any sense.

People will go on dissing the Oscars because they didn't give the award to the right person or the right movie, totally overlooking that their personal opinion of Best is no more valid than anyone else's. Also overlooking the fact that the Oscar nominations are not spat out from a monolith called the Academy. They are voted on by membership and most votes wins. 

So whattya got against democracy, anyway?

Personally, while I seldom agree with the winners, and while I often feel there are egregious omissions amongst the nominees, I think the Academy actually does a quite good job of being close. Of being in the right neighborhood. Seldom is a bad movie nominated, seldom is a great movie ignored. Of course, if you think JOHN CARTER was a great movie, then you think the Academy screwed up big time. Then again, if you think JOHN CARTER was a great movie, you got enough problems, you shouldn't be worrying about the Oscars.
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amanaplan1
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August 9th, 2018, 1:52 am #19

If I agree with the votes, then democracy wins.

If I don't, why, then, it's mob rule.
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Crow T Robot
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August 9th, 2018, 2:28 am #20

I usually watch the 1st half hour of the show, mainly the opening monologue and an award or 2.  then I get bored and turn it off, and will catch the major winners the next morning on the news. 

Looking over the list of nominees for 2018:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Darkest Hour”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Saw Lady Bird after all the hype.  Didn't like it.  WAY overrated.
Saw Get Out.  Didn't like it.  Can barely remember it today.
Saw The Shape Of Water.  It was good.  Not great.  VERY surprised it was even nominated and SHOCKED it won.

The rest, never saw.  I saw the trailers for Dunkirk, and Three Billboards.  They looked a little interesting but just never had any real desire to see them.  The others...never heard of them at all.    

I STILL think they need to go back to nominated only 5 films for best picture.  Should be the cream of the crop, not films that they hope can make some extra money by being nominated.  
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