Will the Oscars get ratings?

I’ve always enjoyed the Oscars for what they were:  a prestigious awards ceremony celebrating the excellence from the past year in cinema.  I didn’t really care if the host was funny or not.  It didn’t matter to me if the ceremony exceeded over 3 hours in length.  Nor did I care when the disappointing ratings came in the next day.  All I look forward to is a night of rewarding the best of the best in film.

I would like to believe that there are many people just like me in this situation, but changes have been made to try and increase the viewership of the ceremony, and in my opinion the changes are for the worse.  The Academy wants ratings!  Ratings ratings ratings ratings!

The Oscars had its biggest audience of all-time in 1998 when Titanic was nominated for fourteen awards and won eleven including Best Picture.  Twelve years later, James Cameron is back in action with his enormous sci-fi movie, Avatar (nominated for 9 awards).  As you all know, Avatar is the highest grossing film of all-time.  So with a movie of this caliber in serious contention for Best Picture, will that attract the public to tune in on Sunday to watch the ceremony?  Does Avatar actually have a chance at winning Best Picture, or is it merely a gimmick to attract ratings?

All I can say is, having Avatar in the race for Best Picture will surely give this year’s Oscars ratings.  It won’t reach the 55.2 million viewers like in 1998, but I think it will be the rebound the telecast needs after their lowest viewed telecast in 2008.

For the first time in decades, there are ten Best Picture nominees instead of the usual five we’ve been accustomed to.  Even though they deny it, I’m sure that this was in a direct response for The Dark Knight being snubbed of Best Picture last year.  A lot of people wanted The Dark Knight to run for Best Picture.  It was one of the biggest movies of all-time and certainly beloved by the entire world.  And simply because of its popularity, the Best Picture race would’ve been a lot more interesting rather than the lock Slumdog Millionaire had weeks before the ceremony.

So to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again, The Academy doubled the nomination group to ten.  And this year we have Avatar in the running for Best Picture.  I’m almost certain that if there were only five nominees, Avatar still would’ve been in the mix, but The Academy aren’t taking anymore chances.

What can work for this year’s Oscars is the uncertainty of what film is going to walk away with the Best Picture of the year.  And it surely doesn’t hurt that Avatar is apparently one of the two top films who everyone thinks is going to win.  For the year that Titanic won, it was up against plenty of excellent films:  As Good As It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, and L.A. Confidential.

But what’s interesting about the race this year is how it’s seemingly The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar.  The Academy will be making a bold statement whichever direction they go.  If Avatar wins, that indicates The Academy is looking towards big blockbusters in the future.  The type of films like Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and Titanic that put up huge box office numbers and was able to beat out smaller films.  But if The Hurt Locker wins the big award, you can expect a long moan from the public and a grin on the faces of critics.  It’ll just strengthen how the public feel the Oscars separate themselves from the public view with winning films such as Crash and No Country for Old Men that many people haven’t seen.

Will this year’s Academy Awards be a success?  In my mind, it depends on who they award.  But for everyone else, it depends on ratings.  Getting rid of the performances for Best Original Song is probably a good idea.  They should also subtract those categories like Best Live Short and Best Animated Short… you know, those categories that NO ONE has seen.  But besides that, I’m really excited for this year’s Oscars.

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