Episode #232 of Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson‘s Screen Talk podcast series asks “Why Has This Year’s Oscar Show Ticked So Many People Off?” By all means listen away but I can save you the time. So far the three big Academy errors have been (a) the short-lived Best Achievement in Popular Film Oscar idea, (b) the Kevin Hart fiasco, and (c) the decision to hand out five Oscars during commercial breaks in order to keep the Oscar telecast down to three hours.
One, the Best Popular Movie Oscar was and is a good idea — it just needed to be based on ticket sales. A solution posted on 9.10.18 by Bloomberg’s Virginia Postrel made sense. Her idea was to not cast indirect shade upon mass-appeal films but simply create two Best Picture categories based on admissions — (1) a Spirit Awards-type Best Picture Oscar for films that have sold less than 10 million tickets and (2) a mainstream Best Picture Oscar for films that have sold more than 10 million tickets. Simple, no shade, and fully reflective of how the the movie-watching world is defined these days.
Two, as everything and everyone has to be fully vetted before it goes public, the whole Kevin Hart thing could have been avoided if the Academy producers had simply told the comedian to severely edit or better yet wipe clean his Twitter history before they announced his selection as Oscar host.
Three, the Oscar telecast will never be watched or supported by ADD sufferers who care less about movies than they do about their social media feed. The Disney ABC execs who pressured Academy honchos to shorten the telecast regardless of the implications or consequences are the enemy. They don’t understand that the most important element in Oscar telecasts over the decades has been the unruliness — the surprises, gaffes, emotional acceptance speeches, questionable choices. The show has always been a bit messy and long-winded, despite the 1973 Oscar telecast having run two hours and 38 minutes with no below-the-line Oscar winners getting the bum’s rush.