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David Poland

By David Poland

Patrick Goldstein’s Good Oscar Idea

You don’t hear this from me much… but Patrick Goldstein offered up a really smart idea recently.

In 2012, why wouldn’t The Academy do the nominations announcement as a prime-time special?

Yes, there is a certain weird tradition of nominees being woken up to the good news. And it would be easy – some of Patrick’s specific suggestions included – to turn the whole thing into a grotesque cheesefest. “Who wouldn’t want to see “The Help’s” Viola Davis relishing the moment or “Moneyball’s” Jonah Hill getting a congratulatory call from costar Brad Pitt?” Me. I could deal with, say, live feeds – after nomination – of gatherings of folks from various films and a quick interview or two. I don’t want to see George Clooney in his living room in Lake Como trying to win the moment because he’s been put on the spot.

But that’s detail work. What I would love to see is packages for Picture, Animated Feature, Doc, and Foreign Language of 5 minutes each, showing why, essentially, they have been nominated. In a celebration of the movies, why not turn the nominations event into a national ad campaign for all of the films.

I don’t need pundits to tell me who they think was snubbed or what the supposed Academy logic was. I need, “Here’s a clip from In Darkness, which you will never see a TV spot for, but now you are seeing a minute.” Or If A Tree Falls.

I need to see the below the line team from Hugo contextualized by Scorsese or War Horse by Spielberg or The Help with Tate Taylor… “these are the people who come together to create the images you love watching on the big screen.”

Or something like that.

The 5:30a thing is silly. The only problem with a primetime show is that it would, in theory, be on one network. The goal is for it to be on every network at the same time. I get it. I just think we may be past that.

And I agree with Patrick that this would be a chance for something looser… something more fun. We disagree, I think, that the awards themselves should be more fun. I think stodginess is the brand and that if you break with that on Oscar night, you suddenly are really competing with The Globes and the others. And that, I think, would be a mistake.

14 Responses to “Patrick Goldstein’s Good Oscar Idea”

  1. Alex S. says:

    The first difficulty I see with a well produced special would be how to prepare for the show without it leaking out who the nominees are. At least if it includes demo reels highlighting the reason for specific nominations.

    Maybe instead of announcing category by category, announce the movies that are nominated instead.

    “Our first nominated movie tonight is Transformers 3.”

    Then show a quick reel and announce it has been nominated for Editing, Special Effects and Lame Screenplay.

    Then on to the next movie. Have graphics showing all the slots as they fill up. Build the suspense for a specific movie by not announcing up front how many nominations but just announce, a graphic of the movie taking a slot on the chart a pause for applause and then announce the next or, to the disappointment of somebody move on to the next movie.

  2. sanj says:

    they could make a 1 hour show thats done in a way thats repeatable worldwide no host – just a voiceover .. abc needs to drop the logo / branding for this to happen they can give this to amc or e! – bbc / pbs = more repeats

  3. movielocke says:

    The post end of that would be quite difficult and expensive. The primary logistical difficulty is security. You’d have to have incredible security at your post facility and you’d need to have a lot media ingested for editing as well as an editor working on the project. Right now, the Oscars probably have a post team working for 16-20 weeks and editor(s) working 8-12 weeks, having packages ready for a primetime special would add significantly to that timeline and budget.

    You’d have to have all local storage, no accessing a high end editing server solution like Baselight that the Oscars probably use.

    And what would your deliverables be like, who secures your deliverables before air, who stays with the deliverables while they’re ingested into the network server for air, who oversees the security of the ingested assets to make sure that no curious busybodies try to call up the asset to see what is slated to be nominated before the nominations are announced? How many “extra” assets do you prepare to try to throw off the attempts to leak info?

    American Idol and the other live competition shows manages to do this, but they only provide one-two goodbye packages per results show, depending on how many people are going home, and they can turn that around in a night and a day of editing, and don’t need to have an asset ready for broadcast until an hour before air (they don’t need it ready for dress rehearsal). By putting together packages before hand for 24 categories you’re looking at a process that is several orders of magnitude more complex than a simple live results show that requires secrecy.


    I think it is probably too risky and too expensive for the academy to take this step.


    However, it would be completely reasonable for the academy to live stream the broadcast online and include all the nominations. Do the TV announcements and then continue to announce all the remaining categories, which are broadcast online. Newsstations would appreciate this because it would give them announcement footage to cut with later for when they might discuss some controversy or unexpectedly interesting category.

  4. bulldog68 says:

    Well the same way that the studios put out ‘For Your Consideration’ ads, the onus wiould be on the studio to put together the Nominating Show Reel for their specific movie and send it to the Academy.

    They won’t know whether their movie would be nominated or not. The reel will contain no advertisng, no hype, just a predefined show reel for your movie with commentary on the work involved for the specific category. In case of acting, the best movies the studio wants to highlight.

    They already put together massive amounts of extras for DVD’s on costume design and set decorations and all that. Why cant that be a showreel for the specific category? The Academy would have it ready to role when nominations are announced, and the onus would be on the studio to send it in. It wont go to voting members, just the production team for the Nominating Show. Would that work?

  5. bulldog68 says:

    That should read “In case of acting, the best scenes the studio wants to highlight.”

  6. Jason says:

    It works for the NCAA Tournament selection. I don’t think secrecy is the issue. If they need to show video, just use one of the trailers. Obviously the shorts, etc do not have trailers, but they could put something together or they could skip over and just show a picture/poster/etc, I’m sure people would understand.

    Also, they would need to find the right amount of time. An hour might be too bloated. They could do this in 1/2 hour and get everything across. Best to not have both the awards show and announcement show too long.

  7. Triple Option says:

    Going by just David’s article, as I have not had a chance to read the original source material yet, I’d say it could be like Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tourney. You have some prognosticators handicap some of the main categories, weigh the probability “Well, this film did really well at Seattle and Telluride. Plus, it’s got a producer with a proven track record. I think we’re looking at a Best Pic seed.” Then some Verne Lunquist type harp on how little the small festivals don’t matter and production values really should be weighted heavier and the small films don’t belong in the Best Pic categories…

    Of course, you’d need to send some camera crews out to some of the potential nominees houses to capture their reaction. That’s always the first question when they talk to people. What did you do when you found out you were nominated? Who told you? Where were you? Maybe put a camera in w/the production crew for like Team Descendants and Team The Artist and a few others that might be borderline like Mary Marcy May Marlene and Shame and Drive. Get some reactions from like the losers locker room. “Yeah, kind of a bittersweet moment. We thought we had a really strong film and good cast and good marketing campaign. Don’t get me, we’re happy for whatsherface down in sound mixing. Editing? Sound editing, whatever that is, but we really think the voters as a whole somehow missed us.”

    Part of me would want to turn in to watch that, but overall, I could just see 3/4th of people watching across the country saying “WHO?!” through 98% of the show. It sounds a bit self-aggrandizing, which, how many air kisses can we seen blown to Meryl Streep in one award season? The Oscars are so long and tedious, I don’t know why people would turn out to watch who made the cut just to wait another 6 weeks or whatever. Having a buncha clips ready I don’t think would be an issue. Logistically, sure, the live prod would have their hands full but what film isn’t going to release five, digital clips for promo purposes? To me, though, it’s more along the line of Hollywood showing their world its baby pictures assuming everyone believes they’re as cute as they think they are.

    ETA: Jinx Jason! I had started to write before you posted.

  8. JS Partisan says:

    Yeah I am going to be that guy: these movies don’t draw enough to garner a prime time special. If the Academy are going to continue to ignore almost the entirety of popular film, then there’s no reason what so ever to hype the event at night. If they decide to accept that a popular film, low and behold, is good enough to reward, then they might as well try it. Until then, their snobby asses can keep on waking people up at 5:30 in the morning.

  9. JS Partisan says:

    My associate Lex P. Man has led to this revised point. I am all about a prime-time show now, IF THEY LET MC KEYS HOST IT! PETER COYOTE CAN BRING IT ALL TOGETHER!

  10. Krillian says:

    I like it, and I like the comparison to the NBA lottery reveal. They start the show with revealing Best Original and Adapted Screenplays, then get through all the technical ones, the Shorts, then it goes Foreign Film, Animated Film, Documetary, Supp. Actress, Supp. Actor, Actress, Actor, Director, Movie.

  11. movielocke says:

    The instant reach to compare the oscars to sport is perhaps the best reason the academy will NEVER go for it. They hate comparing the oscars to sports.

    And JS Partisan is right, in the Weinstein era of the oscars, 95% of popular films are instantly eliminated from the categories the rest of the country cares about. The days of films like Rocky, the Fugitive, and Raiders of the Lost Ark getting important nominations are long gone.

  12. yancyskancy says:

    What recent studio films compare to Rocky, The Fugitive and Raiders, in your opinion? Both in terms of quality and box office. And I ask this with no snark, just honest curiosity.

    I assume Dark Knight is one.

  13. JS Partisan says:

    Yancy, Batman Begins, TDK, Curse of the Black Pearl, Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2, and Wall-E. I am sure if I go back and delve deeper, there can be even more middle level films that were popular which could have been thrown in there. Hell, a ton of comedies that could have been thrown in there. Sure, Inception got in there, but how rare is that?

    It’s just odd that the movies that everyone sees, the ones that have critical praise, are ignored. It’s a confounding thing but these people have hitched their wagon to a silent film hardly anyone has seen with their biggest award. This is the Academy right now and it’s still pretty weird.

  14. sanj says:

    if 90% of movie goers aren’t ever going to see the artist cause its in black and white / no sound – oscars should
    show 10 full minutes of the movie …a free preview –
    people still might not go but catch it on dvd if the promote it . plus they need to get some super old actor with a cool voice saying how amazing old movies are.

    or they could show 10 minutes of jack and jill and people
    will laugh at anything Sandler does .

    take your pick.

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