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The Oscar awards are in crisis, there is no doubt. Is it because they are trying to make everyone happy?
News these days regarding the Academy awards have proven that they are in crisis. Rumors surrounding the guests, the order of the transmission and the categories have made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have to justify every decision it makes through its Twitter account. Many professionals in the film industry have spoken about these changes at the Oscars. Let's review them and check out why they mean a crisis of these awards.
Leer en español: La monedita de oro o la crisis de los Óscar
The past of the Oscars
Given that the Academy awards them, the Oscar awards have been taken seriously by the industry and by the audience since its first edition. In addition, they are the awards of the oldest media, even older than the Grammys, Emmys, and Tonys. Due to the trust that the audience places in the academic entity, as it is an institution with credibility that is supposed to study and criticize the cinematographic productions, the public can always take the nominations as movie recommendations.
However, just take a look at the past to see how many times the Academy has awarded easily forgettable films. The great award for Best Film has been awarded to films that nobody would remember if it were not because they won the Oscar. Today nobody would recommend seeing the 2012 winner The Artist, nor the chick flick that won it in 1998, Shakespeare In Love, much less Argo, winner in 2011. So, although the Oscars have undoubtedly a strong influence on the industry and in the audience, because we measure the actors and directors through them, we can not really see through them the history of good cinema. As Sean Fennessey says for The Ring, in his article "The Oscars Are In Crisis, Do They Know It?", "The Oscars are not a permanent record of movie history—they’re a permanent record of the Oscars".
In recent years they have changed their style and tone a bit. After campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite, in which more diversity was claimed in the Academy Awards, the Oscars have begun to reward more diverse productions in terms of race, sexuality, and gender. However, this has been a bit forced since it has been the result of complaints from the public and industry professionals and has not been born from the heart of criticism or the Academy. Thus, these awards have become a parade of political correctness in which there seems to be a checklist of positive discrimination: films with a female protagonist, films about race in the United States, films in which Meryl Streep appears, etc. While the visibility and representation on the screen and in the most important awards of the industry must be celebrated, it is a pity that it has not happened organically and that it is done only to leave a good impression.
Moreover, it seems that the Academy is taking all its decisions just to leave a good impression. A few months ago they had announced the creation of a new category that rewarded "popular" films. Many took it as a division between quality and commercial cinema, as if one could not also be part of the other. So the Academy canceled the creation of this category. Then, a controversy was unleashed by the resignation of Kevin Hart as host of the awards. This happens because there is an impossible expectation to fulfill regarding this aspect: the Oscars promise to improve each year with a funnier and more adorable host, and thus it has become more and more difficult each year to full the expectations. This is how the Oscars have run out of host.
A few weeks ago a third controversy arose around this year's version: the five nominated songs would not be presented but only two: "Shallow" by Lady Gaga and "All the Stars" by Kendrick Lamar ft. Zsa. Given this, Lin-Manuel Miranda, co-star of Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns, whose song is one of the nominees, was very annoyed on Twitter:
The 1st time I stayed up to watch the Oscars, it was because I LOVED The Little Mermaid & they were going to sing songs from the movie I loved on The Oscars.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) 25 de enero de 2019
If true, and Poppins’ song won’t be performed, truly disappointing. Hostless AND music-less?
To quote Kendrick: Damn. https://t.co/BEXOy7JCId
Finally, the latest controversy that the Oscars have launched these days is the cut of transmitted categories. To shorten the transmission to three hours, the Academy has decided not to transmit the award of some categories and, among them, has considered the award for Best Cinematography. Faced with this, other professionals in the industry have complained, among them the last-year winner Guillermo del Toro:
Reposting, revised: I would not presume to suggest what categories should occur during commercials on Oscars night, but, please: Cinematography & Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical or literary tradition: they are cinema itself.— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) 13 de febrero de 2019
The New York Times then asks in an article if the Oscars are ashamed to be the Oscars. The article says: "Instead of apologizing for the show’s length, the academy should resolve to pack the Oscar broadcast full of major moments, no matter how long it goes." It seems that the Oscars are apologizing for every decision they make, because they want to please everyone: the nominees, the public, the critics, etc., instead of assuming themselves as a commercial film or cult cinema awards. Because of this, they have lost all credibility. They fail in their attempt because nobody is such a pretty penny to please everyone.
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodriguez Pabón
Translated from "La monedita de oro o la crisis de los Óscar"