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Five reasons why the Oscars didn't work for me



Jackmanhathaway Why is it so hard to turn Hollywood's most prestigious awards ceremony into an entertaining television program?

Each year, I feel a little like perennial Oscar nominee/rare winner Meryl Streep; it's nice to get invited to the ceremony, but in the end, you're usually stuck in a seat, wishing you had curled up at home with DVDs of the nominated films, instead.

ABC released preliminary ratings figures Monday showing an average 36.3-million viewers watched Sunday’s broadcast, making it the most-watched entertainment program of the current 2008-09 TV season.

(It was also, however, just 4-million more people than last year, which was the least watched Oscars ever. If estimates hold, Sunday’s show will be the third-least watched in its history.)

Locally, an estimated 428,000 people in the Tampa Bay area watched the show on Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28.

Here's why this year's Oscars ceremony failed for me this year:

Hugh Jackman forgot to be entertaining through the whole show: He started so promisingly, with a smoothly-delivered opening, including an amazing opening number with razor sharp choreography, cheeky humor and a surprise singing cameo from nominee Anne Hathaway. But somebody forgot to tell Jackman that he had to stay entertaining through the entire show -- and a limp musical number with Beyonce does not count.

Actresses Five past winners stroking five nominees equals awful television: Having the five past winners come out and read interminable introductions/compliments for nominees in certain awards ranks up there with having Rob Lowe in a dance number as Worst Oscars Idea Ever. The fans get five times the amount of self-congratulatory blather and the nominees must sit there with smiles plastered on their faces, dying inside as they wait for word on who won.

Why are sound editing and costume design awards televised? I get that Hollywood wants throw a bone to the hordes of people who make their overpaid stars look good. But that should come in the form of one or two obscure categories -- say, special effects and makeup -- which can serve as a nod to the non-stars in the house. By cutting set design, costume design and sound editing, the program can shrink a bit and maybe offer a little more time for performances and star turns -- they way this year's much better received Grammy awards did.

Boyle Winners were too predictable: I'm not sure what can be done about this, besides de-snobbing the Oscar academy so it actually considers honoring crowd pleasing films that were made well, such as The Dark Knight and Gran Torino. But pre-show handicapping predicted just about every major winner last night, except, perhaps, Sean Penn's Best Actor win. Time to surprise us in nominees and winners to make for a more suspenseful ceremony.

What happened to the diversity? I'm sure I'll be accused of oversensitivity, but at a time when a film about India was the biggest Oscar winner in many years, it seemed really odd that all the people actually holding Oscars were not Indian. Other than Penelope Cruz, no people of color were major winners this year, perhaps because -- outside of the supporting actress category -- few people of color were nominated for any big awards. Time for the Academy to show a bit more range, helping their show by getting a better collection of nominees onstage.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:55pm]


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