I just had a conversation with someone last night about going to awards shows. Though I AM a member of AMPAS — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that hands out the Oscars, I can think of nothing that would be so boring as to actually attend the Oscar awards. Frankly, if I can’t be shouting at the screen at how stupid the result is, or how ugly a dress is, or how moronic a dance produciton number is — well, then, what’s the point of watching the show as opposed to simply reading about it on the web?
Not all shows are like that, of course. When I look at the Golden Globes, where people are drinking wine before, during and after the ceremony, that looks like a damned fine awards show. The A.C.E. Eddie Awards isn’t as free-flowing with the vino, but comes equipped with food and desserts.
But the Oscars are you father’s awards show. And they wear that tedium proudly (and I say that as a proud and happy member of AMPAS, who has attended many events there and serves on a committee or two when asked).
Now, with a set of cojones that staggers me, the Academy has announced that the Oscars will expand the best picture race to 10 films. Citing history (apparently that category “usually spanned 10 films” back between 1932 and 1943, according to Daily Variety), President Sid Ganis was quoted:
“After more than six decades, the Academy is returning to some of its earlier roots, when a wider field competed for the top award of the year,” said academy President Sid Ganis. “The final outcome, of course, will be the same – one Best Picture winner – but the race to the finish line will feature 10, not just five, great movies from 2009.”
Wow. Now we get to have our own Top Ten List. And fewer surprises, of course. And a larger pool of people spending money on “For Your Consideration” ads. And more screenings and screeners.
And, I’m sure, a few more pictures by major studios in the list. Which is, I’m sure, what is largely driving this change. After all, it is the major studios who most actively support the Academy during the year, and it must sorta kinda suck that they get so few movies nominated for Best Picture. It always seems to be those pesky indies who are stealing the nominations. Wouldn’t it be great, they must have thought, if we could make sure that we get some more of our movies into the nomination list.
But then they took at look at the films that they want to release and realized that the films that they do best are those that are guaranteed NOT to be liked by us (take a look at today’s major opening — TRANSFORMERS — if you’re looking for validation of that claim). “Hmmmm,” they must have said to their collective imaginary selves. “How can we beat that reality?
“I KNOW!!! Let’s have more films in the nomination list!! And then, even if a few more indies sneak in there — at least we can get our usually horrible Oscar fodder in there as well.”
Voila, today’s announcement was born.
The biggest question that I have, of course, is whether that, with the clips and speeches, means that the Oscar show is going to be six hours long.
Or just feel that way.