Oscar History
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Tuesday
Mar012016

Oscar Telecast Ratings Hit Eight-Year Low

We’re currently awash in Oscar numbers and statistics, but there’s another Oscars number to be taken into account. After much discussion of the Academy as an entity leading up to Sunday night, it seemed like public interest would be high going into the ceremony, particularly given the Leo narrative and some high-grossing nominees like The Revenant, The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road. But numbers for the Oscars telecast for this year have come in, and the Chris Rock-hosted show fell 6 percent to 34.3 million viewers in preliminary numbers and an eight-year ratings low...

If you haven’t already read Kieran’s analysis of Rock’s hosting stint you definitely should, because he gets at a lot of reasons why the ceremony was so uneven and might have put people off watching. But the most telling aspect of the ceremony’s ratings is that the 18-49 demographic only dropped 5 percent, which means that much of the lost audience was older viewers...

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Tuesday
Mar012016

Those Kohls Oscar Speech Commercials

Oscar night was  thin with fun movie-related commercials. Coming out ahead in that vacuum was department store Kohls with a series of kooky commercials with actors lipsyncing to Oscar speeches. This one here brings back memories of my own Oscar-obsessed childhood:

The downside of this goofy series of commercials is that they're not immediatedly recognizable or memorable. Imagine how much more hilarious they could have been if we'd been given an iconic "It came true" or "I'm so in love with my brother right now".

Actor clearances surely played a factor - it's okay to laugh at yourself, kids. We were however treated to one infamous speech, in perhaps the most charming of the set:

What memorable speeches would get you lipsyncing at home?

Monday
Feb292016

Oscar Night Shockeroos

Oscar night never fails to deliver on surprises, but the 88th ceremony, which kicked off just 25 hours ago was among the most shocking. The Revenant's take was left to its three star players in favor of a film (Mad Max Fury Road) once   hought too weird to be taken seriously by the stuffy Academy. Let's run down the unexpected moments of the night!

First, the winner surprises:

Spotlight wins Best Picture
The nominee that most pundits had all but given up on became the newest example in recent years to defy those "can't happen" statistics. The festival staple was the season's first front-runner, but kept getting underestimated next to the big dollar heavyweights like The Revenant and the emergence of similarly politicized, but higher pedigreed The Big Short. But there is power in the preferential ballot and you can bet that Spotlight's win was solidified by number of second and third place votes. Given the broad admiration for the film, its somewhat surprising that the film's chances to win were so doubted.

"The Writing's On The Wall" wins Best Original Song
After Lady Gaga's performance brought the unusually standing ovation averse audience to their teary feet, even Sam Smith seemed gobsmacked that she lost. The combination of political fire, an agressive campaign, and Diane Warren's nomination history were thought to be unstoppable. Damn, Academy, you guys really like "Skyfall."

Ex Machina wins Best Visual Effects
Manuel gave us a fun bit of trivia on the win earlier, but this is a win we'll likely be celebrating around these parts for some time. Like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Best Editing win, this was a gasp-inducer that no one expected. It's also the rare craft win (and nomination) for a supporting design element - hooray for BEST, not MOST! Dance party at A24 headquarters!

The Mad Max Hour
It really did feel like the steampunk actioner could go all the way towards the middle of the show. While its six wins weren't quite so surprising in themselves, the rapid succession of statues felt for a minute like dominoes falling into place. One more commercial break and its winning streak came to a dead hault, but the love in the room for Mad Max was more palpable than for any other film. WITNESS!

Losers, oddities, and more after the jump... 

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Monday
Feb292016

...About Those Oscar Musical Numbers.

Dancin' Dan here to talk about what used to be my favorite part of the Oscar ceremony.

Remember those giganticoften-confounding production numbers set to the nominees for Best Original Song? They were crazy, ambitious, and compulsively watchable, bring levity to the alternately serious and teary acceptance speeches that usually dominate Oscar ceremonies. Even the times they just had a person stand there and sing, those moments seemed chosen because the songs were sung by a superstar who could easily fill the whole room with just their presence and incredible voice*. Unfortunately, those kinds of performances seem to have fallen out of vogue. Barring the odd actressexual dance party and Lego-fest, the days of crazy musical extravaganzas on the Oscars are long-gone. And I would argue the show as a whole is a less joyous, celebratory affair without them. For proof, look at this year's performances.

Set aside for now the fact that two of the best nominees didn't even get a performance slot, and let's take this year's performances on their merits. They were, for the most part, DULL.  Herewith, a few thoughts on each...

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Monday
Feb292016

Chris Rock and the White Elephant in the Room

Kieran, here with an extremely stream-of-conscious analysis of the racial politics of last night's ceremony. Bear with me, gentle reader...

Chris Rock was in an unenviable position.  It’s important to begin with that point because, as Nathaniel has pointed out many times, it’s nearly impossible to get positive reviews as an Oscar host in real time. Even briefly setting aside the identity politics firestorm of stepping into a predominantly white space as a black person, it usually takes at least a year (if not longer) for positive consensus to settle around how an Oscar host performed his or her duties. But let’s get to the white elephant in the room—Chris Rock’s handling of #Oscarssowhite (a hashtag created by activist April Reign). There were many who seemed to be expecting Chris Rock to be some kind of attack-dog, which I will never understand. That’s never been his style and even if it were his style, what does that accomplish?

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Monday
Feb292016

Finding Time for Two Disrespected Song Nominees

There's already been quite a stir over the two nominated Best Original Song nominees that producers decided not to include in the telecast: Racing Extinction's "Manta Ray" by J. Ralph and Anohni (our only transgender nominee) and Youth's "Simple Song #3" by David Lang (also Nathaniel's 2015 favorite). The reason for not including these songs with their more famous competitors in the telecast was "time constraints."

The timing of the Oscar ceremony is undoubtably tricky, so let's do a little math.

  • The three performed songs each were shortened from their full length, a great way to still get them on an already long broadcast. "The Writing's On the Wall" lost the most time at almost two minutes, but "Earned It" was the shortest performance at roughly 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Let's assume the two unfamous songs should be given that amount of time as a minimum.
  • "Til It Happens to You" had the longest intro at 2 minutes and the longest applause with 30 seconds. Since a popular political figure wouldn't likely introduce the songs, factor in about a generous minute and a half for intro and applause.
  • At four minutes per song, we now must find 8 minutes to trim from the broadcast to fit in these performances.

Now I'm no expert on the minutiae of planning a massive production like the Oscar telecast, b most of these suggestions require minimal logistical shifts. Some, like less animation production, could even save a headache or two. Having funny bits throughout the show is crucial to a memorable telecast, which is why bits like the spoofs of The Danish Girl and The Martian will always be essential. But when focusing on honoring the nominees, you'd have to pick and choose your battles on what extra pieces stay and go.

So we'll do just that after the jump...

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