As I compose this, today is October 3, 2018, the key dates for next year’s Oscar Ceremony are:
January 7: Nominations voting opens
January 14: Nominations voting closes
January 22: Oscar Nominations Announced
February 12: Finals voting opens
February 19: Finals voting closes
February 24: 91st Oscar Telecast
We are months away from awarding Oscars but everything I read and hear is A Star is Born will be the Best Picture winner for 2019. For example: ‘A Star Is Born’ Leads Off Strongest Studio Oscar Field In Years’, ‘A Star Is Born Is Already the Oscar Movie to Beat’, or ‘Review: ‘A Star Is Born’ Will Win Best Picture At The 2018 Oscars’.
A Star is Born opened in wide release on Thursday, October 4th. It has been screened for critics and journalist at film festivals around the world. Every trailer and snippet I have viewed of this remake of a remake of a remake show it to be a very good movie from first-time director Bradley Cooper. With its early fall release date mixed with the studio machine’s aggressive marketing campaign, this film is Oscar bait, and everyone is feeding into it.
Side Note to the media machine: We’ve known for over 10 years that Lady Gaga could sing. This is not news, please discuss her acting in relation to this project. Please and thank you.
These reviews are sucking all the air out of the room for other films released earlier this year or yet to be released this year. It’s as if they are birds sitting on Academy voter’s shoulders helping them fill out their ballots.
Critics, a question: What about films that came out earlier this year. A Quiet Place, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, First Reformed, Hereditary, The Rider? What about other movies premiering in the next 3 months Green Book, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk, Widows, The Favourite?
I conceded that the critics, pundits etc. have had the opportunity to see the all the movies contending for the Oscar and other awards. Maybe A Star is Born is really the best picture, however I just want this continued force-feeding to stop. If it’s a forgone conclusion that this is our Best Picture winner, why watch the telecast in February?
In the last 8 years, the only surprise has been the Moonlight win over Oscar favorite La La Land in 2016. There is usually no disagreement among the critics who will win the acting & directing awards, thus the acceptance speeches are canned. The hosts are hit or miss and the stunts are not that amusing. The only interesting sections of the evening are the red-carpet fashion show, the performances of the Oscar-nominated songs and the In Memorium (wait occasionally they mess that up too).
Early in August the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced some changes to energize the ceremony.
First, awarding some of the technical awards during commercial breaks and not during the live broadcast. I agree with this. Not everyone is into costumes, make-up or set design like I am so I’d understand not seeing those awarded. They could also do a separate event for those awards and air them earlier. Let those artists really have their day and moment.
Their second idea was a little more controversial: adding a new category for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film. In theory, this would award films that most movie audiences watched. This award feels like an Oscar with an asterisk next to it though: “Yes, this is a good film but not as good as the Oscar-bait, art house films that come out in the fall.” This idea was not fully thought out and has since been rescinded.
The last change the Academy announced is the best one: move the Oscars up in the awards season schedule. Starting in 2020 the Oscars will air on February 9th. It shouldn’t be the finale of the award season, it should be the opening act. However, some of the other shows seem to be moving their dates up as well.
What can the Academy do to make the show more appealing:
- Stop backloading the major awards to the end of the show. Maybe do some Best Actor/Actress awards in the middle of the ceremony.
- Offer two Best Picture awards like the Golden Globes one for Musicals/Comedy and one for Drama.
- Take the studio campaigning out of the process, no special screenings for Academy voters.
- Ensure that the Academy voters have watched all the movies in contention. (Black Panther is a great film, but I wager that most of the voting Academy haven’t seen and will not see it.)
I know the conversation around the Oscars can’t be controlled or contained, however having it start so far in advance of the show makes the show anticlimactic and unnecessary to watch.
Maybe all the chatter is due to the film’s recent release date, maybe A Star is Born is the best picture of 2018, but no one outside of Hollywood will get to make the determination themselves when all the air is taken up by one movie
What are your thoughts? Will you be watching the Oscars this year? Or have you already decided they’re not for you? Let us know in the comments!