Hogan's Alley

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogging The Oscars - In General

Brave bloggers did live blogging last night while the event was on. I am not so brave, nor so capable of staying alert during that endless, boring paean to self. Now that I've slept, I'm ready.

First a confession. I love the Oscars. I have not missed a broadcast in 40 plus years. I'm not sure why. For now I'll postpone the self-analysis to another time. Suffice it to say that I have loved the broadcast even while recognizing its many faults.

Last night was different. It was the most boring show I remember. I felt like I was going to scream if I had to listen to yet another winner thank everyone they ever met, or sit through another self-congratulatory speech about the wonderfulness of Hollywood's social conscience. The opening was fun and Jon Stewart's monologue was amusing, but from then on it went continually down hill. Stewart tried, but he was just not able to produce the brilliant "ad lib" reactions of some of his predecessors, especially, Hope, Carson and Crystal.

The truth about the Oscar spectacle is that the only things truly of interest are the actors, writers and directors. They are the only people involved in making movies whose contribution to a film is clear and understandable to outsiders. They are also, not coincidentally, the only people capable of expressing themselves in ways that are interesting, or amusing, or touching. The endless parade of editors, scenic designers, sound editors, etc. is unbearable. For some reason, these technical awards seemed to last longer than ever. The sequence in which the awards are given was at fault. After tempting us early with the supporting actress award, we were then forced to endure a good hour and half of tech awards and Chuck Workman montages before the next significant award was given.

Don't get me wrong. I know that the skills and creativity that go into the technical aspects of filmmaking are essential to the process and to our enjoyment of the films that result and are deserving of merit. I also understand that Hollywood is essentially a big freelance market and that no one wants to anger their benefactors and collaborators. It could hurt future jobs on future movies. But to give them equal time and weight to the awards that the outside world is interested in is foolhardy for a show that needs to draw an audience and that purports to be entertainment itself. Can anyone but a sound editor possibly explain the difference between the award for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? It can't be done.

It is not a fluke that the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the BAFTA, Director's Guild, SAG shows are all more watchable. The only significant difference, aside from the presence of alcohol and cursing, is the absence of boring technical award winners.

I have a suggestion for the Oscars. They are, in the end, the only big show in town. The Academy must either eliminate the technical awards from the show, or at a minimum not allow the tech winners anywhere near the stage. Perhaps they can stand up, be acknowledged with applause, handed their Oscars and sit back down. Such a radical step may produce an endless number of lawsuits, but it would be well worth it to the Academy in regained viewers.