The Oscars were last night, maybe you heard. CODA took home Best Picture, Kenneth Branagh somehow won for Belfast’s screenplay, and Will Smith won Best Actor. He also slapped Chris Rock across the face, which was probably the best thing that could have happened for producer Will Packer, who had put together an awful show up until that point.
Up until The Slap, the awards show had been equal parts snooze fest and fever dream. DJ Khaled introduced the night’s hosts, three athletes introduced a tribute to James Bond while at least three Bond actors sat in the audience, Megan Thee Stallion did a verse during “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” and the cast of Juno reunited. Even if you didn’t watch the ceremony, you can probably tell that none of that was good or interesting.
The Oscars should be a night for people who love movies, or at least watch them. Instead, it was a night for Steve, a person made up by the Academy and ABC who hasn’t watched the show in years but loves seeing his favorite skateboarder stumble through jokes for two minutes. As ratings have plummeted over the last two decades, people have been trying to make the Oscars must-see television again through some combination of out-of-the-box presenters, shameless fan service, and comedy bits that don’t land. It has never worked.
Luckily for the Academy, I am both delusional and have been watching the Oscars for most of my life, so I am fairly certain I know how to fix the whole thing. Here are my suggestions.
Show Every Award
The Oscars should be mostly awards. In fact, they should show more awards. Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Ullman, Elaine May, and Danny Glover all won special Oscars at the Governor’s Awards earlier in the week. You would think that people might enjoy watching Jackson take home what is likely to be the only Oscar of his career, or seeing May do what she does best (talk). Instead, the only footage we have from those moments is via iPhone clips from journalists who were in the room. That’s a shame.
This year the Oscars made the confusing decision to deliver eight awards before the show started, and then air the winners’ pretaped acceptance speeches during the night. This was not only disrespectful to the craft that the Oscars ostensibly celebrate, but it also took some of the drama out of the night. Dune won a majority of those awards, and if we had seen them scattered throughout the night we might have felt like there was a possibility for it to take home Best Picture. That would have been exciting!
Additionally, the pre-taped clips were supposed to be a time-saving measure, and the show was one of the longest I’ve ever sat through. Which brings me to my next point.
Let the Oscars Be Long
You get one night a year with some of the most famous people in the world under one roof and you want it to be short? Come on. Let every winner talk for as long as they want. People who win Oscars are usually freaks, and we should let them riff off-the-dome for at least three whole minutes and just see what they come up with.
A Montage Should Mean Something
This year was the Godfather’s 50th anniversary. That is something that should be celebrated at the Oscars, but not with a boring clip package that for some reason is scored with Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing.” Then you have Francis Ford Coppola come out with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, and the latter two say nothing? It’s all wrong.
If you must honor the magic of cinema (which you should at the Oscars), tell me something new. I’ve seen The Godfather, I know what it looks like. What I would rather see in a pre-taped segment is its living collaborators reminiscing about what it was like to actually make the movie or younger filmmakers talking about what the movie means to them. At the very least get a better editor — there are at least five good ones in the audience that might be able to help.
Cut the Best Song Performances
You heard me. They take up time and it’s rare that anyone has heard the song before. The songs are rarely ever in the movie anyway; they’re credits songs that are reverse engineered to be Oscar contenders. Get ‘em out.
One Host, No Physical Comedy
I am not an Amy Schumer fan by nature, but the best hosting moments of the night came when she was alone on stage cracking jokes. That is what a host’s job should be. I do not need to see her dangling from the ceiling dressed as Spider-Man; I need to see her making a good joke every 45 minutes or so, ushering the show along at a smooth pace.
No Fans Allowed
I never want any input from a normal person at the Oscars again. No Twitter polls, no man-on-the-street content, none of it. This is a night about famous people. The fans are already online talking about the famous people, they don’t need to be part of the ceremony. When you let the fans in you get an homage to a Johnny Depp movie no one saw and “The Flash Enters the Speed Force.” Keep them out.
One Slap a Year
One man should get slapped every year. You don’t know who it’s going to be until it happens. It’s like the slime at the Kids Choice Awards.