New from Jeff York on The Establishing Shot: THE LAST WORD ON OSCAR BY YOURS TRULY

I’ve resisted writing anything about the Oscar ceremony this past week as I read so many assessments from colleagues, critics, and other journalists that captured most of what needed to be said about them. Still, a number of my readers and friends have asked for my two cents, and now with the perspective of almost a week under my belt, I have a few things to add to the mix. 


My thoughts veer more towards the constructive for the awards’ future, not strictly a review of the show or an assessment of any particular winner. Fortunately, the Academy put on a good show this year, so that saves a lot of time kvetching. Still, it might be worthwhile to take a few moments to showcase why this show was particularly memorable in so many ways this time. 
Perhaps with all the misfires leading up to the ceremony by Academy leadership and ABC executives, audiences were prepared for a disaster of a show, but thankfully, that never occurred. This go-round the Academy ended up showing sound judgment in what went on-air, making for a crisp and clever entertainment. Here are my final thoughts on the show:
  • The ceremony didn’t need a host and if anything proved that past shows spent way too much time catering to the particular schtick of a singular comedian. Let’s keep it host-free for a few years, shall we?
  • Giving presenters the opportunity to do more individual bits that highlighted their strengths paid off handsomely. James McAvoy did well with levels of sound an actor can project while presenting awards in that category, and Melissa McCarthy showcased her abilities with physical comedy to give the award for Best Costumes. 
  • The songs were showcased properly without being over-produced.
  • The single clip package at the beginning highlighting the year in movies rather than the history of film was so much better than all those egregious clip packages of the past.
  •  The couplings often made for bizarre and adorable funny duos like Jason Momoa and Helen Mirren. When their interplay makes you wish someone would write a comedy for them to star in, the writers of the show are doing something right. 
  • Newcomers like Elsie Fisher, Stephan James, John Mulaney, Kiki Layne, Bryan Tyree Henry, and Amandla Stenberg were stars that shone brightly in 2018, and they provided fresh sparkle to the show by being included. 
  • Diversity was also well represented across the board in the presenters, the films, and the winners. Bravo!
  • Whoever came up with the one-take, intimate way for Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper to perform “Shallow” from A STAR IS BORN deserves their own award. The staging and camera work was astounding, giving the actors and the song gravitas and a searing romanticism that made that number one of Oscar’s best ever.
  • It was great that the winners were allowed to speak without that exit music creeping in too quickly. Bravo for the patience to let those called have their time in the sun. And by and large, most of the speeches were terrific, save those awful and disorganized makeup winner for VICE.
  • Thankfully, the producers knew to let big winners like Spike Lee and Olivia Colman go on and on in their acceptance speeches. They deserved to be heard, and what they had to say was smart, moving, and witty.

Where the Academy erred this year is where they err every year – in some of their ridiculous balloting practices, especially since they’ve gone to a vote that allows for up to 10 Best Picture nominees. It is here where changes are needed to restore luster to the gold. 

The entire Academy should only vote for Best Picture
Editing awards being voted on by anyone other than editors doesn’t feel particularly informed, especially when too many voters admit to not watching what they’re voting on, and even worse, that they don’t know how to judge areas that aren’t their expertise. Case in point? The Oscar for editing this year went to BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY with utterly atrocious cutting as highlighted here –  https://bit.ly/2En1v5I

For the final ballot, experts should be the only ones voting, just as they nominate. Actors pick actors, costume designers choose costume designers. That way, both the nomination and winners will be more informed and correct.

Best Picture should go back to five films
The more do not make for the merrier. While the length of the list was increased to try and get more commercial hits squeezed in, they haven’t all that much. Having an inconsistent and floating number of possible films lessens the credibility of the list too. The category should go back to five, a very exclusive shortlist.
If you’re going to stay open to 10, however, then nominate 10
Such foolish inconsistency makes a mockery of it all.

Get rid of that weighted ballot for Best Picture
It’s a silly numbers game with too many rules, too much of a complicated point system, and too many rounds of balloting to anoint a winner. Enough with all that excessive number crunching. Every voter should get one vote. They choose the one film they’d pick for Best Picture, and the movie with the most votes then should win. Simple. Easy. Period. End of sentence.

Get out in front of the other awards shows
 The world has changed, and the Academy is not doing itself any favors by coming so late after all the critics’ awards and other shows. The later the Oscars, the more they appear as an also-ran. Let’s get them done by early February from now on, shall we?
There. That’s all I have left to say about the Oscars this year. Now onto the films of 2019. 

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