Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2015 POST-OSCARS ANALYSIS: THE TOP TEN THINGS THE A.M.P.A.S. NEED TO DO TO IN ORDER TO STAY RELEVANT!



The Oscars are over, and-eh,...- yeah, we're not doing the normal post-Oscars analysis this year. First of all, I'm already two days late for it, and I don't feel like going over what everybody else has probably already said in great detail, so, here, real quick, here's my thoughts on this year's Oscars.

As to my predictions, and everyone's predictions, nobody did great, I got 16/24, I correctly predicted "Spotlight" winning Best Picture, despite most predicting "The Revenant", and I correctly got right Mark Rylance winning Supporting Actor, so I'm pretty happy despite getting Director and Supporting Actress wrong, those were my faults anyway, I just couldn't believe they'd really give Inarritu two in a row, and I knew I am was being stupid with picking Winslet. I have no idea how "Ex Machina" won Visual Effects, if you picked that one, go to Vegas dude. As to the show, Chris Rock, was, good not great. While his material was mostly good, especially the opening monologue, and I liked the bit with the Girl Scouts cookies, but the Stacey Dash joke, was terrible, not the least of which the fact that nobody got the joke, much less the fact that it was a pretty terrible joke once you try to explain it to everyone. (And explain who Stacey Dash is, why was that even really her, wouldn't the joke work a little better if it was, say, eh, Maya Rudolph doing a Stacey Dash impression?) As to the show, the Awards themselves were exciting, if for nothing else, the fact that, for most of the show and most of the categories, we didn't know who was going to win, and that was fun. When Best Picture came up, there was legitimate confusion and unsuredness over who would win, so that was fun, and I know people who don't normally watch or like the Oscars, found it surprisingly entertaining. Chris Rock, I don't think is actually that comfortable at hosting the Oscars. He's good, and competent, and he was funny, but I think he's typically uncomfortable at that job, he's not as natural at it as he is in other circumstances, you can tell that when Louis. C.K. came in and told the best joke of the night while giving out the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar.

Okay, that's what I thought about the Oscars. I don't know who deserved to win or who should've won, I'll let you know about that when I give out my own made up awards at the end of the year. Here's the thing, this has been a strange and awkward Oscar season, on multiple levels. The unpredictable Awards that we normally look towards as prognosticators were erratic as hell and no help at all, the #OscarSoWhite controversy put a dark stain over the whole show, and making it, basically the only thing that could've possibly be talked about throughout the show, the new rules about voter eligibility next year, and every article and thinkpiece and stupid things Stacey Dash/Charlotte Rampling/10 or 20 other people said during this whole thing..., and the ratings are in, the broadcast, despite the inevitable fact that Leonardo DiCaprio did indeed win the Oscar, which apparently everybody was waiting feverently for, for some reason (Shrugs, seriously there are many other people who haven't won that are more overdue; I literally have no idea why we've chosen to focus on DiCaprio) the ratings were down again this year, mostly due to the protests I guess from the African-American and minority community, but still, this is, getting out-of-hand, and the Oscars, well, they're pretty out-of-touch. Not in the sense that they aren't nominating films that everybody likes or has seen, that's, actually probably more of a problem with everybody else not watching good films, but there's other issues and yes, there's things that need to be sorted out, and one or two rule changes or voter eligibility standards, they ain't gonna fix everything. They need major internal surgery, not a couple bandaids.

But there's a few things that the A.M.P.A.S. can actually do and help them improve themselves and the Academy Awards. And we're gonna talk about them. Yes, this is a Top Ten. The Top Ten Things the A.M.P.A.S. needs to do to keep the Oscars relevant. I thought of more than ten things, but we're just going to do ten, 'cause who knows if they can do everything, and even with these things, we might not see the entire full effects of these changes for years, some we'll see sooner but, these are things they can do and should do, and start doing them, as soon as possible. So, here we go, this is our Oscars Post-mortem folks, the top ten things the Oscars Need to Do to Stay Relevant, here we go.


THE TOP TEN THINGS THE ACADEMY AWARDS NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO STAY RELEVANT

10. Either perform all the nominated songs or perform none of them.


Okay, I wasn't gonna include this one, but since there is such talk about people, so upset that "Fifty Shades of Grey" got nominated for Best Song that there's some people insisting that the category be removed entirely, (Seriously, it wasn't that bad a film, don't get the outcry; I'm still mostly pissed they picked the wrong "Fifty Shades of Grey" song.) I'm okay with the category and it should be there, but it's difficult figuring out exactly how to handle the category. This year, they performed some of the songs and not all of them, which is annoying. Now, I didn't think the other two songs were that great, admittedly, although I didn't like two of the songs that they did perform, including the winning one. But, yeah, what if one of those songs did win, that would be embarrassing, (And it wasn't unthinkable, I saw a lot of people predicting the song from "Youth" could've won) Look, I don't want the Oscars to turn into the Grammys, but it's not that hard, either perform none or perform all of them. Doesn't have to be full performances, it could be a medley or something, but yeah, if you're worried about time or running long, just say, "We're the goddamn Oscars, we'll go as long as we want!" (My number 11 would've been "Stop Apologizing for being the Oscars and act like you're important and the be-all and end-all of films, even if you know you aren't, but I decided to leave that off, but sometimes they should throw their weight around, and this is an instance where they should.) 

9. Get rid of Cheryl Boone-Isaacs as Academy President.

Okay, I recognize that this might seem a controversial pick here, but she's been a terrible President. The fact that she's African-American, and the first president at that of the A.M.P.A.S. is admirable and in all honestly, a lot of the problems that she's had to deal with, most of them are probably not her fault, but that doesn't make her any less clueless into how to deal with them. Since she took over, she's had to deal with multiple #OscarsSoWhite protests, not just in nominees but in films, she's still failed to overhaul a Best Song category, that was already under problems, and this included having to disqualify a nominee that involved impeachable offenses by a member of the Board of Governors, she's made multiple mistakes in just naming the nominees when they're being announced, something that she certainly doesn't need to do, she's continually bringing in very short-sighted and shallow new rules for the Academy to fix these problems, but they're not really fixing the problems, and in many cases they're causing potentially more problems, and she's basically just a deer in the headlights in general. In case you're wondering what movies she's made that made her eligible for the Oscars, well, she hasn't. No, seriously, she's not a filmmaker, of any kind. Her background is in marketing and public relations, and it's clear. She's good at making everything seem okay, and that she's actually getting things fixed, but she's not actually good at fixing them herself. Look, I'm sure she does good things outside of the Awards, 'cause, yes the A.M.P.A.S. does things outside of just giving out awards, look them up, but I'm sorry, it's clear to me that, she's not the right person to be in charge of the Academy, or at the very least, there's got to be one or 50 people at high-ranking positions in the Academy who can do a better job as President than her.


8. Stop living in the "Glamorous" past and live in the Dirty Present

Eh, actually I might as well tackle #7 at the same time here.


7. Deplete the focus on the Red Carpet and more on the films, and/or make it more intellectually analytical on the films and the fashions.

Okay, look I'm sure E! and other networks are different and better with their coverage, but I don't have cable, so I end up watching "On the Red Carpet" or OTRC, which is terrible! Really terrible. Being fashion-obsessed is bad enough but they're not even good at that, they're just bland. They all seem like they're trying to be cliched entertainment reporters, the kind that are so impressed at the glitz and glamour and fashions of the Oscars and of Hollywood, but they don't even fake it well. Okay that's them, there's something that needs to be done about the Red Carpet in general.

And look, I do know that this is the biggest night of the year for the fashion industry and believe it or not, I do like the fashion side of the Oscars, there's is a well-deserved place for that here, but it shouldn't be, just about the fashion; it shouldn't even be the main focus, and even then, even the fashion coverage can be approached with a more analytical sense. I watch "Project Runway", I know that's more-than-possible, but the night is about the movies, and the many accomplishments and achievements in the industry. The reason I actually have such a negative reaction to that fame side of the Oscars that, "Who are you wearing?" "Can you believe you're here?", "What's it feel like being at the Academy Awards?" schitck is that it all feels so unachieveable, like there's a sense of wonderment with all these stars. like it's otherworldly the stardom and fame and the craft of filmmaking and being movie stars, but...- look, I don't know how else to say this, but making movies is dirty, gritty, hard-as-fuck work! Seriously hard, it's dragging cameras and tripods and laying down tracks and light kits and stunts and whatnot, it's making costumes, getting deals done, it's 8-12 hours days, often at hellish godforsaken locations that nobody would ever normally voluntarily be, it's hours and hours and hours upon hours and hours and hours of editing and scoring and recording sounds in post....- very little of filmmaking is truly glamorous. We make it look glamorous and back in the days when you can just post a picture of two stars eating ice cream together and suddenly there's a made up story about their worldwind romance that everyone believes, instead of the fact that one of the stars is actually gay and whatnot. It's not glamorous and we shouldn't be projecting that it is anymore, it's outdated. It should be  "How much work was it getting here?", or "What was the hardest or more difficult parts?"..." and then, "What's it's like being here" and instead, that's all I'm saying. The journey is more interesting than the destination, so let's learn about the journey. Like how the Oscars kinda did the show in the order of how the film was made this year, start with the writing and the the costumes and cinematography and ending with sound and visuals, get into that, make us care about them, and show us why we should care, especially since those are all really difficult skills. Show and talk about them as much as anything else and then we'll care. I swear it.


6. Go back to 5 Best Picture nominees

Yeah, some of you may disagree with this, but I'm not a fan of the 6-10 Best Picture nominees every year. Never was, still not sold. And I get the initial reasoning behind it, to include more movies that might not normally have gotten in, but that's still stupid. Seriously, this film will finish 7th, but since it's nominated we'll confuse people in thinking it has a chance? What?! No, no. First of all, screw the audience for not seeing all the movies, but it's just wasting time at this point. I mean, look at this year, where there were four clear frontrunners for Best Picture, and let's say, "The Martian" was the fifth choice, or "Room", perhaps, wouldn't this race have been even more exciting with only five nominees this year? I mean, we moved it to ten, and then got films nominated that had absolutely no shot, and now we're still getting the same complaints, just more nominees. I mean, I do ten nominees for my made up awards, but I'm not the film industry, and thank god, I shouldn't be. I'm promoting other films as much as honoring them, the Oscars are supposed to be prestigious, so, it should be harder to be nominated for Best Picture. And fine, you want the preferential ballot, so that we get a more consensus winner, fine, but you can have that with five films, you don't need 6-10 for that? So, there's no real point to have more than five, and based on the ratings and we're still having problems getting films everybody's seen nominated, so why still have it. It's time to get rid of this experiment, it's not working. If you want the Academy to more accurately represent the populace at large, then you don't change the number of the nominees, you change the makeup of the Academy. And that's why most of the things I ranked higher than this, deal with that problem.


5. Get rid of the Sponsorship voting rules

Yes, in order to become a member of the Academy, in most situations, you first have to be sponsored by a current member of the Academy in order to be accepted. Look, that made sense back in the days of old, but now, that's just stupid. That's the big problem, the Academy isn't really inclusive. It's trying to be, but it's not in it's nature, It dates back to a time when the Academy was intended to be an exclusive limited group of fellow filmmakers and artists within the industry, originally to combat unions in Hollywood, so yeah, that didn't work. Look, I'm not saying everybody should be a member of the Academy, you should earn it and prove your qualifications, but why a sponsorship? This isn't the Elks Lodge of the Skull & Bones Society. You'd be amazed who is or isn't in the Academy, or how long it took for some people to get asked to join the Academy, especially when there's an easy and better way to figure out who to invite and who not to invite in.


4. Use IMDB Credits to determine new Oscar invitees

Yeah, why isn't this the standard? Seriously, it's the standard everywhere else. How to get invited or determine who should be in, use IMDB, and/or IMDBPro.com, Look, it's not 100% accurate, but it's pretty damn accurate enough, it's the standard for which everybody in the Academy uses when determining whether somebody is actually in the industry or a lying fraudulent hack, so why can't it be the thing that determines Academy membership? Just get in contact with IMDB, and when they confirm somebody has enough legitimate credits, to join a Branch, have them then join the Academy automatically. If would automatically increase voter membership, voter diversity, etc. etc. This is so simple, take membership out of sponsors and the Board of Governors and get it into the hands, truly, of the movie makers in Hollywood. There, done, solved. If they want to join, they get an invitation when they become eligible and they can accept or decline; there, done. Why is this so goddamn hard that you need to take years to do this? It's really, really not. The Academy needs to join with IMDB for helping to increase memberships. I'm a little surprised this isn't number one, but.....-


3. Add more acting categories, including Ensemble, Alternative Performances and Stunts

I'd also add Casting Director to this myself, (And personally I'm not actually sure I like the idea of adding Alternative Performance category myself for CGI and Voiceover performances, but....) That said, while I think you can promote more of the below-the-line categories better, people do like to see the stars and see them win most of all. I mean, look at this:



I stood up and clapped and cheered when, Ennio Morricone won for the Original Score for "The Hateful Eight". I didn't react much at all to Leonardo DiCaprio winning, mostly because, it was unbelievably obvious that he was going to win one of the only categories that was inevitable, to any/everybody who even remotely looked at the odds and the Oscar precursors, but also, Morricone was in his eighties and had been a legendary in his craft for six decades and had never won a competitive Oscar before, and frankly I thought he would never win considering how old he is, and the fact that they already gave him an Honorary Oscar years earlier. But, I'm a film person, not everybody actually knows that. You want to get more people to care about the Oscars, and to promote those below the line people, then you have to get more actors involved somehow, and the best way to do that, is more categories they can be eligible for. They hinted at that by showing the montage for Andy Serkis before he announced the Visual Effects category, so have a catch-all "Alternative Performance" category for Best CGI or Voiceover performance. This also would include more animated films, which will get the young kids engaged, so that's more people watching. Also, especially this year with films like "The Big Short", "Spotlight" and "Straight Outta Compton" that maybe didn't have an obvious nomination singular performance, have a category for the Best Ensemble Performance category, (and I'd recommend giving that award to the cast and to the Casting Director btw, one of the few Academy Branches that doesn't have a corresponding award) so that a whole cast could win an award. I'd also include Stunt Coordination here, 'cause I think the public would also be intrigued by having Stunt Coordinators finally given an award, I might be wrong on that, although they should probably get one too. Anyway, Two, maybe three more categories that will get more people to watch the Oscars, right away. Time to begin putting these categories on the show as well. This is simple to do, should be done right away, and will automatically get more people watching and interested. Why isn't this just automatically done?


2. Move the Academy Awards and Nomination Announcements to a Later Date. 

Um, with people complaining about having not seen any/all of the movies, eh, why not just, oh, I don't know, "MOVE THE GODDAMN SHOW TO LATER IN THE YEAR SO THAT EVERYBODY HAS MORE OF A CHANCE TO SEE THE GODDAMN FILMS!" Seriously, these are the simplest things they can do, and can fix so much wrong with the Oscars. I have no idea why people immediately think "Ew, Oscar nominated film, I don't want to see that," those people are useless, but anybody else who actually could care, give them as much time as possible to see the films. I remember back when the Oscars were giving away in the middle-to-late March, why are they given out so early, there's no reason for that. Seriously, none. Get more opportunity for nominated films to be in theaters, hell, more time for the voters to see more films as well so they can judge them more thoroughly, more time to think about your choices, more time to see everything and actually have a rooting interest, etc. etc. There's really no need, to ever rush the Oscars. Yes, it means Oscar season will last longer and forever and yeah, I want to get rid of and/or curb the Oscar campaigning and pandering, (Hey, quick question to Oscar voters, eh, it's a secret ballot right? Why don't you all just, accept all the campaigning from all the films and say you voted for whatever and then vote for whatever you actually think is the best anyway? Or just say you voted for it afterwards even if you personally didn't? No really, seriously, like, what's-, it's not like your votes become public, just vote for whatever you want, enjoy the bribes and then just say you voted for whatever afterwards? Sigh), but that's not gonna completely end no matter what, so, I don't think making the show earlier helps, and there's no reason for it to be so early, and it just ostracizes more viewers who haven't seen nominated films because they haven't had the time. Give them the time. Stop moving the Oscars date up and up and up. It doesn't really help anyone.

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AND NOW, the #1 THING THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES ARTS AND SCIENCES NEED TO DO TO KEEP THE OSCARS RELEVANT IS

(Drumroll ends)

1. Combine with the Television Academy. (Yes, turn the Oscars into the BAFTAS, sorta)  

Yes, I briefly mentioned this radical idea recently, on my blogpost about the Academy new rule changes, in light of Bill Mumy's article, you can see the article below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2016/02/oscar-voter-eligibility-rule-changes-in.html

And the more I thought about it, yes, this needs to happen. Now, I'm not saying, turn into the BAFTA and have one entirely overlapping awards that encompasses all filmed arts, including television and whatever, internet, video games, whatever., or that we get rid of the Oscars altogether, or that we combine television compared with theatrical motion pictures and then start having "Game of Thrones" compete against "Spotlight" or something, but in terms of your voter base, there's nobody, literally nobody that only makes movies anymore, or has only ever made motion pictures that get theatrically released in L.A. County. This is why some people who are genuinely still prominent working members of the Academy are getting kicked out, they're not able to get work in films, so they get work in television, or webseries, or voiceover work, or something else. Look motion pictures are separate and important, but in terms of the voting base, are you really gonna tell me that, Mariska Hargitay, an Emmy winning actress who's one of the most talented actresses in the industry and is from a legendary Hollywood family but who's made, what, two or three small movie roles this decade, isn't qualified to know who might be giving a good performance in a film? Yeah, bullshit. The reason the Motion Picture Academy has to start combining and joining with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (And perhaps even with N.A.T.A.S., the Daytime Television Academy, okay maybe not them) in order for finding qualified people to vote as well. It will expand and make the voting base of the Academy more diverse and more representative to the populace, and more importantly, it would be the first step in actually modernizing the motion picture industry by not simply recognizing that, yes, television exists, but to actually understand that television and other film outlets are just as legitimate and apart of the motion picture industry as motion pictures are. Plus, it allows people who might not be making motion pictures, but are still working regularly in the film industry to keep their voting eligibility. Eradicate the Hope Holliday's of the world who really do abuse their voting privileges but everybody else, who works regularly, even if it's not in motion pictures, expand the voting base, plus make it more diverse, 'cause television is more diverse than motion pictures, this is the number one thing that will help fix the most of the problems of the Academy and the Oscars. The Academy of Film and Television should come together.

Alright, Academy, here's ten things, it's a good start. Let's start fixing this thing.







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