Friday, January 19, 2007

Racing to the Oscars - A Report

It's worth reading Mark Harris' last page column in Entertainment Weekly titled "An Oscar Season in Hell". Three years ago the Oscar nominations and subsequent awards were moved up by two months in order to combat

  • slipping TV ratings (the rationale was that other shows were using the beginning of the year to dilute the importance of the Oscars) and
  • to discourage the ridiculously expensive campaigns pioneered by Harvey Weinstein when he was at Miramax.

Harris bemoans that not only have none of purported advantages materialized (TV ratings still stink, campaigns just begin earlier and are more aggressive) but shortening the time to watch movies forces the voters to skip important films.

Here is a particularly entertaining excerpt from Harris' column:

As for the tighter schedule magically creating briefer
and more genteel Oscar campaigns, if there's a single person in Hollywood who
believes this, please drop me a line as soon as you get Wi-Fi in your
sensory-deprivation tank. This year, Fox Searchlight has done everything but
trademark the color yellow in its attempt to drive the Little Miss Sunshine bus
all the way to the Kodak Theatre. One of the season's ripest ironies may be the
company's mammoth effort to secure prizes for a movie that makes such acute fun of the American obsession with winning. (Another is the pretense that Jennifer Hudson is a supporting actress, not a co-lead. Wasn't the point of Dreamgirls that you shouldn't demote someone just because she doesn't look like Beyoncé?) And ad copy remains preposterously overreaching: Did you know Forest Whitaker's work in The Last King of Scotland is the ''most universally acclaimed performance of the decade''? I guess not using the word ''century'' represents the new spirit of restraint the Academy had in mind.

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