Another Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone, so it's once again time to consider how it could be improved.
- If you work in the film industry, winning an Academy Award is the pinnacle of your career. Therefore, you should be allowed to speak for more than 30-45 seconds. Give the winners a full minute, at least. And give all the winners a full sixty seconds. That is, if the visual effects award goes to a team of four people, all four of those people should be given the an opportunity to give an acceptance speech. If that means we have to hear speeches from every member of COunting Crows, well, that's a risk I'm willing to take.
- The Oscar statuette is one of several types of awards given by the Academy, and by far the most prestigious. That's why the Academy has always made a point of presenting all the Oscar statuettes during the annual Academy Awards ceremony. Whoops, make that almost all the Oscar statuettes; the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, recognizing "an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry," is presented at the Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony. Oh, and in cases when an honorary Oscar is given for achievement in the scientific and technical fields, those Oscars are likewise handed out at the Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony. This is altogether inappropriate. Repeat after me: All Oscars are equally prestigious. If Sidney Lumet deserved to get his Oscar statuette during the Oscar ceremony, so too did Takuo Miyagishima, Horst Burbulla, Jean-Marie Lavalou, Alain Masseron, and David Samuelson. They certainly deserve better than to be trotted out onto the balcony like show ponies.
- The Academy needs to establish some new awards. There should be an award giving for achievement in casting. Just yesterday, I read that Barry Sonnenfeld originally wanted to cast Danny DeVito in the lead role in Get Shorty. Whomever convinced him to cast John Travolta instead deserves an Oscar. The Academy also needs to bring back the award for Best Song Score. Tell me, what film in 2000 had the most memorable and effective score? No question about it, it was O Brother, Where Art Thou? But that score wasn't eligible for an Academy Award, because it wasn't an original score. How is that fair? It's not, that's how.
- They need to bring back the tradition of showing clips from the Best Picture nominees. I missed them last night. And they need to be real clips. None of those stupid montages we sometimes see. And I'm talking whole scenes here. They don't need to be incredibly lengthy scenes, but they need to be long enough to tell you something about the movie.
- My friends Philip and John convinced me of this one last night: the Best Director award should be eliminated. Instead, directors and producers should share the Best Picture award, much as art directors and set directors share the Art Direction Award. It really doesn't make much sense to give the Best Picture award to the film's producers, because in many cases the producers don't do much other than pay the bills. Back in the day, when the studio system was in full force, that may not have been true, but nowadays it's the director who's really responsible for the movie. Besides, as I've noted before, Best Picture is the only "best film" award that doesn't go to the director. Animated Feature, Animated Short, Live Action Short, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Foreign Language Film: all are awarded to (or accepted by) the director, not the producer. So why should Best Picture be different? I don't think you should cut the producers out of it altogether, because they can and sometimes do have important roles to play in getting the film made. But I don't see much of a reason to have two separate awards for producing and directing.
That should do it. I, for one, would have enjoyed the Oscars much more with these changes. Granted, it would have made the ceremony a little longer, but who doesn't want that?