My Thoughts on the 8/8/18 Changes to the Oscars!
A lot of people are curious to hear my thoughts on the Oscar changes, so here goes:
My primary response: it's easy to be like "wtf no", but when I really think about it, I'm not mad about any of it.
I hope every person who's upset that they won't be airing the smaller awards live (but instead covering those during commercial breaks & playing highlights later) remembers every time they've heard their friends bitch & moan about how long & slow & boring the show gets due to watching all these unknown people slow-walk to the podium from the back row. They can't satisfy everyone, and they surely satisfy more people with this change - I support it. I bet more viewers will pay attention to their 15-seconds-of-fame since they'll be snappy soundbites rather than swaths of time when people are going to take a piss anyway.
And I hope that every person who's upset that Best Popular Film is a hokey AF category that cheapens the prestige of the Oscars and creates an unnecessary and potentially mutually-insulting rift between different types of movies (a thoroughly valid response that I largely agree with) remembers all the times that their friends have complained that there aren't enough movies that THEY'VE cared about represented (but also don't want to cheapen what Best Picture represents by throwing a movie like Mission: Impossible - Fallout in there, as outstanding as that movie is). Wouldn't it be great if Get Out could have won a bigger award last year than Original Screenplay? I bet it would have won this award. (Actually, Wonder Woman probably would have won - either way, cool!)
Of course there's the downside that a movie like Black Panther will be less likely to be nominated for actual Best Picture than it would be if this change hadn't happened (which would be a shame - I personally wouldn't nominate it as there are inherent-to-Marvel facets to that flick that I wish had been different; but I still would root it forward for the cultural impact that would make), but that is a RARE situation: can you think of a time that it would make more of a cultural difference for a top-grosser to be appreciated as high art as well? If it weren't for Black Panther, it would be easier to see that this change isn't that different than adding Best Animated Feature, which, sure, in a way made it harder for an animated feature to be nominated for best picture, but the REALITY is that that wasn't happening much anyway beforehand! (Only once EVER before the category addition, and twice since, albeit due to category expansion in best picture.) Same is true for popular films - sure movies like Inception & Mad Max: Fury Road have made it in (since category expansion of course, fewer before then), but it's not terribly common and they never win. It will change the race, and sure it'll make popular movies less likely to be nominated & win the top prize, but I think the degree to which that's true is small enough that it ought to be eclipsed (and hopefully will be in people's minds) by the upside that, for example: Black Panther will almost surely win a big award now, when it otherwise would surely not have. And isn't that cool?
I do lament the fact that the difference between a "popular" film and an "artistic" film has grown so greatly in the past two decades (remember when Forrest Gump was one of the top 5 grossing films of all time?), but it's the reality of the world now, and to ignore that reality has its downsides, especially when so many people want movies like Avatar and The Dark Knight and Mad Max and Black Panther represented, not just as nominees but as WINNERS.
I'm mainly playing devil's advocate here because someone should - I'm actually quite on the fence about how I feel about this. I don't directly disagree with any of the dissent - I just really see the upsides & downsides BOTH quite clearly, and kind of don't feel like it makes sense to have an opinion until after this year's Oscars. I just hope that people look at the justification of these changes a little more closely, so wanted to give them an unbiased voice here.
Because at the end of the day, viewership is quite problematically declining, putting the very Oscars themselves in jeopardy. And the top things that people complain about are: it's too long & boring, and the movies I love aren't represented. I can't currently think of better solutions to these two problems; and yet their attempt to fix them is met with instant knee-jerk anger. I just ask that people be patient for a hot second and put yourselves in the between-a-rock-&-a-hard-place shoes of the Academy's Board of Governors.
Meanwhile: yay movies!