The besties review
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I believe it is possible to empathize with the Academy’s woes while still being critical of their attempt at a solution.
It is no secret that the Oscars’ ratings have been steadily declining for a number of years, and this is not the Academy’s first attempt at a solution. The push from five Best Picture nominees to ten was meant to include more popular films and pull more people to the broadcast. But even that drew criticism, as some believed it lessened the prestige of the night’s biggest category. And in the end, the ratings declined anyway. The Academy’s latest changes come amidst pressure from ABC regarding their ratings. Because in today’s world, ratings are everything. And if you can’t get people watching, you don’t matter.
Now, I have to make it clear that I don’t even agree with this way of thinking. The quality of the awards and the Academy itself should not be based on television ratings, and the fact that they have to alter their standards and structure to account for that is sad. Yet, in an effort to combat poor ratings, the Academy has decided to implement three changes to their regular program. In their words:
The details on the new Popular Film category are sparse, but we can safely assume it is meant to draw more viewers by giving attention to blockbusters like Black Panther or whatever other Disney megahit makes a billion dollars. Academy snobs tend to get riled up when these kinds of films are mentioned because they are not “Best Picture material,” and maybe they’re right. Not every blockbuster deserves a Best Picture nomination. I’m not even sure Black Panther does. But does that mean they need to give it a consolation prize? It’s basically “the best movie that people actually saw” award. Is the Academy so afraid of the backlash that will come if they don’t nominate hits like Black Panther, or are they just hoping the millions who saw the film will also tune in if it’s guaranteed a nom.
The earlier airdate is not a big deal for now, though it may mean a shortened “Oscar season” with different deadlines later on.
The ambiguous “three-hour telecast” is perha
ps the most worrisome of all the changes. Sure, the Popular Film award sounds like something you’d see Vin Diesel present at the MTV Movie Awards, but the shortening of the broadcast is much more drastic. The Academy has specified that this telecast will result from the removal of certain awards from the live show, with them instead to be presented during the commercial breaks. These “less interesting” awards will likely consist of the technical categories such as Sound Mixing and Editing, Film Editing and maybe even Production Design.
There is a lot to dissect about these changes and what they mean, how long they’ll last and whether they’ll even affect the ratings. But after just one day since the news broke, here are my main three concerns:
That’s enough rambling for me. Truth be told, the Oscars is my most anticipated day of the year, even more than my birthday or Christmas. It is a day I spend preparing the Besties with my girlfriend and a night I spend watching the awards intently and eating microwaved appetizers with my mom. It’s something I (somewhat irrationally) care a lot about. If you care about it too, let me know what you think of these changes. Could they actually be a good thing for the Oscars? Or is this just a pathetic attempt to keep the masses, who never cared about the Oscars in the first place, interested in the awards? I guess we’ll have to wait until February to see…