Monday, March 08, 2010
The Academy Award show gets worse each year
The ratings for the Academy Award show has been slipping over the past few years. Although the largest audiences occur when a blockbuster film is favoured to win best picture. More than 57.25 million US viewers watched in 1998, the year of Titanic. The 76th Academy Awards ceremony in which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King received 11 Awards including best picture drew 43.56 million viewers. The most watched ceremony based on Nielsen ratings to date, however, was the 42nd Academy Awards (best picture Midnight Cowboy) which drew a 43.4% household rating on April 7, 1970.
By contrast, ceremonies honoring films that have not performed well at the box office tend to show weaker ratings. The 78th Academy Awards which awarded low-budgeted, independent film Crash generated an audience of 38.64 million with a household rating of 22.91%. More recently, the 80th Academy Awards telecast was watched by 31.76 million viewers on average with an 18.66% household rating, the lowest rated and least watched ceremony to date, in spite of celebrating 80 years of the Academy Awards. The best picture winner of that particular ceremony was another low-budget, independently financed film (No Country for Old Men).
Last night's show had good ratings because Avatar was considered one of the favourites even though in the end The Hurt Locker was the big winner. The telecast was watched by 41.62 million viewers on average with an 26.75% household rating. It shows a lot of people have seen Avatar.
The organizers made some changes to attract more younger viewers and will take credit for the high ratings. They should thank James Cameron. The expanded field of best picture nominees (10 instead of 5) was intended to attract more viewers. I thought there were more younger presenters than usual (Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner). The horror movie and John Hughes tributes had to be aimed at younger viewers. Though I thought that was all negated by using Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin as hosts.
The format is so stale and dying for a face lift. Within 20 minutes I was ready to walk away. The song-and-dance opener by Neil Patrick Harris was painful to watch. Martin and Baldwin were not funny at all. Calling out celebrities in the audience was lame. Somebody get Billy Crystal on the phone ASAP.
Each year you are painfully endure presentations to people you don't care about for films you know nothing about. In attempt to entertain they try various dance numbers, film montages and special effects. Who's stupid idea was it to have a dance number to the score of The Hurt Locker? The night just drags and then suddenly the last 20 minutes they blow through the major awards. When the best picture was awarded Tom Hanks didn't even announce the nominees. The envelope was opened and the winner announced.
There are absolutely no surprises either and the winners are totally predictable. The Hurt Locker swept most critics groups awards for best director and best picture including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas film critics association. Sandra Bullock had previously won 5 best actress awards for her role in The Blind Side including the Crtics Choice Awards. Jeff Bridges had already won 4 best actor awards including the Screen Actors Guild. So there wasn't much drama last night. I suspect most people are just watching to see what the rich and famous are wearing.