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Academy to Cut Honorary Awards from Telecast…

I’m going to give the expansion of the Best Picture category the benefit of the doubt and I don’t really care about the Original Song rules, to be completely honest, but I am a little ticked off at the announcement that the Honorary Oscars are being shunted back stage. Talk about completely missing the point – the Academy doesn’t seem to get that most viewers aren’t clamoring for that extra High School Musical song so badly that they’re shunt off someone who has made such a massive contribution to popular culture as to warrant the Honorary Award. I just don’t get this decision.

We want the Academy to take its hat off to Charlie Chaplin...

We want the Academy to take its hat off to Charlie Chaplin...

Well, actually, I do get this decision. I just hope I’m wrong. The Academy probably believes that the Honorary Oscars are the dullest part of the evening for the Americans who tune in for the awards and cutting the five minute speech from a lifetime legend will win over a few thousand viewers. I don’t believe that – if you want to cut awards the viewers don’t want to see, I’d recommend cutting the technical awards. But you don’t have to cut anything at all. All the changes being made to the ceremony seem to be side-stepping the actual crisis that the Academy Awards are actually undergoing at the moment. People aren’t watching because the show is dazzling or cool, they’re watching because they want to see their film win big. Obviously if people don’t know any of the bloody films – or found them overrated and pretentious – they aren’t going to bother to tune in. And the only way to change the films being nominated is to make a conscious effort to embrace the mainstream as part of the Academy’s recruiting strategy. Start embracing mainstream talent instead of fringe artists that no one has heard of. The maid from Babel is a member of the Academy, but not the lead actress in Juno?

But that isn’t going to happen, so they’re going to try to solve the problem with judicious application of Zac Efron. Another musical montage! Some wacky set design! Get rid of those old fogies! Big! Louder! Hugh Jackman-er! I actually enjoyed the addition of Hugh Jackman and the opening song, but everything else was a bit much – especially the choice of people giving out awards (look kids, we’ve got Sarah Jessica Parker… and Ben Stiller – you love Ben Stiller, right?). In the meantime, the Oscars are slowly being stripped of their prestige. They’re meant to appreciate great cinema – and the Honorary Award perhaps does that better than anything else.

Just to give you an example of the pedigree of the award, here are just some of those to receive the award. Keep in mind that for some, this would be the only Oscar that they would receive:

  • Actor, Director, Legend Charlie Chaplin (1927/28 & 1971)
  • Actress Shirley Temple (1934)
  • Actor Bob Hope (1940 & 1965)
  • The film Fantasia (1941)
  • Writer Noel Coward (1942)
  • Actor Laurence Olivier (1946 & 1978)
  • Director Cecil B. DeMille (1949)
  • Actress Greta Garbo (1954)
  • Silent Actor Buster Keaton (1959)
  • Actor Gary Cooper (1960)
  • Actor Stan Laurel (1960)
  • Actor Cary Grant (1969)
  • Actor and Director Orson Welles (1970)
  • Comedian Groucho Marx (1973)
  • Actor Paul Newman (1985)
  • Actor Sidney Poitier (2001)
  • Actor Robert Redford (2001)
  • Director Robert Altman (2005)
  • Composer Ennio Morricone (2006)

I don’t think that five minutes of a several hours long telecast is too much to give to talent of that calibre. In fact, I think that the Honorary Awards is one of the rare areas where most of the film community has been relatively happy with the decisions made by the Academy. In an institution that seems set on changing in the hope reclaiming lost esteem, it seems illogical to cut the five minutes of the show that nearly all film enthusiasts are happy with.

Particularly if you’re simply going to replace it with a Zac Efron song. Maybe we can compromise and have Zac Efron serenade the recepient? On second thoughts, no.

4 Responses

  1. You are absolutely correct. This is a ludircous decision. They do not know what they are doing. Especially since the deserving Cary Grant stepped up to get his only oscar and made such a great speech. here are several things that can be cut from that show; namely, stupid songs and foreign awards.

  2. […] The Oscars attempted to rejuvenate the formula. I don’t care about the Best Original Song, I’ve mixed feelings about the doubling of the Best Picture field and I don’t like cutting the Honorary Awards. […]

  3. […] things. I was indifferent about the expansion of the Best Picture category, and a bit miffed about the demotion of the Honorary Awards to an event outside the regular show, but today’s list of new members of the Academy gives me a little cause for hope. These are […]

  4. […] up. While I love Hugh Jackman as host of the Oscars, the presence of Zac Efron insulted me and I don’t want to see the honorary awards go. But this is a situation where you have to cater to […]

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