Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Monday, 13 February 2012

Hands up if you're Bored by the Awards Season

The Oscars have their thunder stolen every year, but maybe that's about to change

This year has featured one of the more interesting awards seasons of recent times. It has still become very boring before the real event. We all know that The Artist is going to win big at the Oscars in a fortnight’s time, and, after the endless awards ceremonies, it is becoming increasingly hard to care.

This is a shame because the Oscars should be really special, but year-on-year they are having their thunder stolen by everybody else. This has been reflected in the perennial challenge that the producers of the Oscars telecast face in trying to recover the show’s floundering ratings. It is true that the lack of wildly popular films is another cause for lower viewing figures, but why would the passingly-interested watch an overlong show which takes forever to get round to telling you results that you already know?

How has this happened? How has the world’s greatest awards show become such a formality; a rubber stamp at the end of three months’ worth of ceremonies? Well, firstly there has been the rise of guild awards. There are now more awards ceremonies from the individual guilds than ever before, and they have become very good indicators of who’s going to win the main awards. This is largely because they are voted for by a lot of Academy members, and the votes by-and-large crossover from the guilds to the Oscars.

Then you have the sheer amount of time that the awards season takes. Critics associations, who get advance screenings of all the eligible films, give out their awards in December. At the end of December, initial nominations start for big awards like the BAFTAs and the Oscars. They announce their nominees in mid-January, by which point we’ve had the Golden Globes. At around the same time, the guilds hold their awards, having announced their nominees a few weeks earlier. By the time you get to mid-February, suspense has all but vanished, the awards bodies have fallen into line behind the anointed winners and enthusiasm from the general public has pretty much evaporated.

This is, potentially, about to change. There is nothing that can be done about the over-proliferation of awards ceremonies. If the guilds want to give out awards, they should be allowed to. However, something can be done about the timings.

The Academy recently announced that, next year, it was going to allow its members to vote electronically and, as The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg pointed out, this could make a big difference. E-voting would be far quicker and the Academy could be able to shorten its process, bring its awards ceremony forward and shorten this overlong cavalcade. That way, the Oscars could be returned to their rightful place as the King of all awards ceremonies.

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