Oscars suffer from outdated show style

The 80th annual Academy Awards took place last week, breaking the record for the lowest number of viewers from the past three decades, and we can hardly bring ourselves to care. As the blogosphere spews analysis of viewership, market share, and ratings, we wonder how much these numbers really matter.

While it’s possible that the writers’ strike has led viewers to stray from watching TV, we think it’s more likely that the model needs to be re-thought. Award shows frequently suffer from excessive speeches, awards that to most feel like filler (like Best Live Action Short Film), and clips from the same “classic” movies every year. This last problem was only intensified this year by shortened script production times caused by the writers’ strike and a glut of montages in honor of the awards’ 80th anniversary. Maybe instead of recapping eight decades of past shows, the producers of the Oscars should’ve considered if using basically the same format as they did when our grandmas were watching the Oscars was a good idea. Instead of filling the show with antiquated montages and irrelevant awards, the Oscars producers should respect their viewers’ time and give awards pertinent to the audience.

One shift we like that seems to be occurring naturally is a larger number of independent and often darker movies. Mainstream viewers may have tuned in less to this year’s awards had they not seen the movies nominated, the mass of summer blockbusters being largely excluded. So perhaps a movement to attract a different demographic, say, college kids, who are out seeing smaller art-house films, is a possibility, albeit one not exactly thrilling to advertisers. While the Oscars do have such awards as Best Documentary Feature and Best Short Film, maybe these should be featured more prominently in the televised show, alongside more awards for independent films such as Once and Juno, in addition to darker films like No Country for Old Men.

At least, it seems that people have generally noticed there was a problem with the structure and length of this year’s show, and at best we can hope for the academy to swing to action, and create changes so compelling that next year’s 81st show is actually worth the watch.