OPINION: The More the Oscars Change, the More They Stay the Same
Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced a few new changes to all upcoming Oscar ceremonies that will be in effect over the next couple years. All of which can be summed up in the following bullet points.
They will now be only three hours long. (presumably to make more room for cringe-worthy comedy schtick and unnecessary political commentary while shoving smaller things like the Technical Awards to the sidelines, much to my chagrin)
The introduction of the new “Best Achievement in Popular Film” category.
Future shows will aim for earlier broadcast dates starting on February 9th, 2020.
All of those are fairly interesting and are worthy of discussion. By now, the news of a new award category has spread like a California wildfire. Okay, brief history lesson: when the Oscars first started back in 1929, the Best Picture award was divided into two categories: Most Outstanding Picture (i.e. Best Blockbuster Release) and Most Unique & Artistic Picture. When the following year’s ceremony came around, this was quickly scrapped for a more concise Best Picture award. As someone who’s been rooting for the Academy Awards to get off their high horses and give more clout to more genre films, this news should have me jumping for joy. Sadly, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it appears to be little more than the Academy being condescending old farts giving what amounts to a “Participation Award” to what they see as low art only consumed by the filthy common-people.
Aside from smugly undermining popular art under the guise of celebrating it, don’t expect this to open the gateway to stuff like Upgrade or A Quiet Place. A common truism is that the Oscars are less about actual quality; instead, it's more about the standard cliches that please out-of-touch Academy voters and the amount of money any given prestige studios will fork over for highly coveted awards season gold. So, don’t be surprised if the only films that win these awards are new products from the Star Wars or MCU assembly lines. Disney practically owns the Best Animated Feature category. This might as well be a new addition to their ever-expanding empire.
Frankly, this just feeds into my decreasing amount of goodwill for this pretentious circus. They won’t take the time to recognize underappreciated fields such as stunt work and color grading. But, with God as their witness, they’ll be sure to fawn over Bland Over-Praised WWII Film No. 976 or Paper Thin Actor Showcase No. 6,900! Then again, there are always exceptions. Outside of a couple of missteps (Baby Driver was robbed, I tells ya!), I was pretty happy with how the Oscars turned out this year. So, who knows? Maybe, I’m just being apprehensive and this will turn out to be a positive development; yet, I shall stay trepidatious going forward because I’ve been given very little reason to believe otherwise.