How to improve the Oscars

Like (based on the evidence of my Twitter feed) a lot of people, I watched some of the Oscars on Sunday night. It was a pretty horrible telecast, as is standard. The hosts were desperately unfunny, the “in memoriam” forgot Farah Fawcett, the dance number was cringe-worthy. And yet, somehow, listening to the winners give their thanks, whether pointed & cogent (Mo’Nique), touching (Jeff Bridges) or so sweet I assumed a team of Hollywood’s best writers had been hired to craft it (Sandra Bullock), it rises above all the crap to be touching. The Twitter back-channel chat, like all live “communal” events I’ve watched recently (with the exception of the super-bowl – apparently football fans are not witty), greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the show.

aside: Given how much I love the twitter back-channel chatter, I would love some way to show my twitter feed on my TV for certain events – as a sidebar, perhaps. Not sure if that should be a cable-provider interface or built into the TV, but I could see it being fun.

But, as always, the middle part of the show sags. And there’s a very good reason for it: None of the recipients of the mid-show awards are celebrities. Virtually none of the tv audience knows who these people are, and they, as a rule, don’t know how to deal with the limelight. So here’s my (by no means original) suggestion for the Academy for upcoming awards: Only televise the acting/directing/music awards. Don’t let screenwriters, editors, designers or even producers speak. These are the behind-the-scenes heroes of cinema, not whom the public associates with the films.

There’s already a technical Oscars. Why couldn’t either that show be expanded, or there be a third show, for the “technical production staff”. This show could be expanded to include all sorts of vitally important on-production technical work that isn’t currently awarded (my vote for first new award: Credits design). These technical production people could then have an awards show that is truly about them, where they can actually invite their friends and family, not just be the one guy in the crowd no one recognizes. By getting rid of all of the categories that don’t highlight the celebrities, the show itself could be shorter, tighter. There’d be room for special recognition for lifetime achievements, letting recipients speak, rather than just standing & waving as Roger Corman did on Sunday night. Much like they have a presenter talk briefly about the technical awards, someone could talk briefly about the production awards, highlighting the winners there.