Volume 92, Issue 71

Wednesday, February 3, 1999


View behind bars

Fiddlin' through history

Tuck overcrowds master

Academy Awards need to get in shape

Academy Awards need to get in shape

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could learn a thing or two from The Golden Globe Awards – an awards presentation which is increasingly stealing Oscar's thunder.

It is imperative to understand the Academy Awards are still the American film industry's most prestigious gala but the glitz is fading and the reasons are clear. The present day Academy Awards are dated and the spotlight seems to be out of focus.

The most common complaint Oscar receives is his show is too long. Yet the brain trust at the Academy feels the best way to cut down on the show's lumbering format is to "subtly" cut off people's acceptance speeches by firing up the background music. This idea strikes me as stupid. Instead of cutting fat, the Academy is slicing into the sweet meat of their biggest stars' shining moments. This leads me to believe they are not honouring the artists for their achievements but patting themselves on the back.

This fact was never more glaring than when Jack Nicholson accepted his Golden Globe for lifetime achievement. His speech was easily over 10 minutes long and he spent half the time talking about his friends and relating funny situations. On paper it sounds long, but in reality it was absolutely intoxicating. The Academy rarely allows even their greatest stars to speak to their heart's content – preferring instead to labour through introductory fodder at the expense of these just desserts.

The point here is not to let everybody speak endlessly, but to restructure the Oscars to allow these kind of moments. Yes, Nicholson probably is the most popular man in Hollywood so anyone would let him speak, however, if they are going to hype up all the big Oscars such as Best Actress or Director all night, then let the winners have their moment, even if it's a long one.

My advice is to cut the crap. Here's a thought. Why not trim up all the pre-meal mumbo-jumbo? For most awards there is an introduction to the presenters, a long elegant walk to the pedestal, some tacky cue-carded intro, a razzle-dazzle clips segment, the selection of the winner and a short often cut-off acceptance speech.

What if the presenters just popped from behind a small partition right beside the pedestal, or started introducing the candidates while they walked to the stage like a good news reporter? What if the clips of the nominees were brief and only the winner got a full length one? Or maybe some more of the less prestigious awards could be abbreviated to just a list of the nominees and then a quick cut to the winner. These are simple ideas which could give Oscar a little zip of smelling salt because there really has to be an improved pace to this awards show.

The problem is Hollywood is happy stroking its own ego to the determent of modern entertainment values. The younger generations don't want to sit through endless out-takes of past winners or a gala of all the people who have ever won anything – like at last year's Oscars. This show is going to slide if the old guard doesn't invest in some bold faced reconstruction which is not afraid of real life in the '90s.

The Golden Globes have honoured such cutting-edge acting performances as Jim Carrey in The Truman Show and Courtney Love in The People vs. Larry Flynt, while the Academy has just gotten older. The Oscars definitely have their golden moments but the Academy needs to trim the fat before they trim their reputation. Tradition is a good thing but the Oscars are betting on Beta.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999