This week, there was a meeting at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that produced a few new changes that will, ostensibly, remold how the Oscars are handled from here on out.
President John Bailey and CEO Dawn Hudson announced that three key alterations have been made for future ceremonies. These changes were outlined in a brief letter sent out to members, letting them know what to expect from the Academy Awards moving forward:
Last night, the Board of Governors met to elect new board officers, and discuss and approve significant changes to the Oscars telecast. The Board of Governors, staff, Academy members, and various working groups spent the last several months discussing improvements to the show. Tonight, the Board approved three key changes:
1. A three-hour Oscars telecast. We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide. To honor all 24 award categories, we will present select categories live, in the Dolby Theatre, during commercial breaks (categories to be determined). The winning moments will then be edited and aired later in the broadcast.
2. New award category.We will create a new category for outstanding achievement in popular film. Eligibility requirements and other key details will be forthcoming.
3. Earlier airdate for 92nd Oscars. The date of the 92nd Oscars telecast will move to Sunday, February 9, 2020, from the previously announced February 23. The date change will not affect awards eligibility dates or the voting process. The 91st Oscars telecast remains as announced on Sunday, February 24, 2019.
We have heard from many of you about improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world. The Board of Governors took this charge seriously.
We are excited about these steps, and look forward to sharing more details with you.
John Bailey and Dawn Hudson
Let's address these changes one by one:
- A three-hour Oscar telecast. Fine, whatever. While it seems like bullshit - as we already know more technical achievements will be cut from the "live" broadcast in order for Seth MacFarlane to tap dance a second time with Paddington and the TuPac hologram - a compact show really isn't a terrible thing at all. In essence, it shouldn't take me less time to watch Doctor Zhivago than it does to witness this parade of self-congratulatory nonsense where everybody's just tennis clapping while an eight ball burns a hole in their pocket, yearning for the after party and what drunken shenanigans it holds.
- Best Achievement In Popular Film. Obviously, this is the largest alteration announced, and also the funniest. The dirty (not so) secret of the Academy Awards is that they've never really been a benchmark of excellence to begin with. Really, what's being awarded is the best media campaign by a studio, and how they manuvered their movie in front of Academy members, who probably haven't even watched 85% of the entries in the first place. Adding "Best Achievement In Popular Film" is, in actuality, the Academy being fucking honest for once. Regardless of whatever "criteria" they end up outlining, the AMPAS might as well just slap a dollar sign on the trophy's forehead and call it "Most Money Earned" (or "Best Cape"). Future winners include whichever Star War was released in a calendar year.
- Earlier airdate of February 9th, 2020. While this may seem like another "who gives a shit" update on the surface, a closer look at the calendar will show you that this places the Oscars on the weekend immediately following the Super Bowl. Then, the next weekend is Valentine's Day. This now marks February as the most exhausting month for those of us who enjoy sports, movies, and sex.
All jokes aside, here's another thing that rubs this writer the wrong way about the new "Popular Film" category: it's inherently condescending toward whatever ends up winning that year. It's a way for the Academy to include movies they probably wouldn't recognize in the first place (see: genre pictures). So, while they're being straight up about "this is the movie that y'all voted for the most with your dollar this year", the Academy's also telling you that whatever movie you liked best probably wasn't going to win without them being "generous" enough to invent a new slot. It's a Participation Award for the general populous; a poo-pooing of popcorn/multiplex fare that actually keeps the industry alive.
While we're at it, let's get more categories added and go full blown MTV Movie Awards up in this motherfucker. How about best fist fight? Best stunts (I'm being real on that one)? Best kiss? Craziest kill? Sound off in the comments below with what you'd like to see at the new and improved Oscars. Party at my place come next February (but fair warning: I only drink whiskey and Lone Star).