A few lessons that the Oscars and Razzies could use learning

News Simon Brew 1 Mar 2011 - 05:27

How can the Oscars and the Razzies be fixed for next year? We’ve got a few suggestions, as it happens…

It's a traditional part of the awards season that, post-Oscars, the Internet explodes in a flurry of bafflement, hatred and scorn. In the 50s, we bet that people did it by exchanging terse notes. Now? You can barely move for criticism flying around the web.

Saying that, I'm sort of boarding the bandwagon here. But what I also want to do is put together two of the big awards ceremonies of the past weekend in the one post, because I think they share similar problems.

Reading the complaints, neither the Oscars nor the Razzies (aka The Golden Raspberry Awards) are reliable indications of what's the best or worst (appreciating that's impossible to define anyway), but the bodies concerned press on regardless. Yet, what could be done to turn all of this around?

Glad you asked...

LOOK HARDER

If you're voting for the best or worst picture of the year, then it's inevitable that you won't have seen them all. You're only human, and it exposes a great big flaw in the system right from the start.

Still, there's something you can do to at least try and remedy this, and that's to simply try and watch things outside of your comfort zone a little. Or to hunt down movies that can't afford the massive Oscar campaigns to put them under your nose. Some films are excellent, and don't arrive on a screener DVD through your front door.

As for the Razzies, appreciating it's all a bit of fun, they surely no longer work. The idea can't be to highlight loud failures. It's to dig out the movies that the public may have rejected too, and to hold them up to scorn. It shouldn't just be about throwing darts at slow-moving targets.

Granted, few are going to grumble if Big Momma: Like Father, Like Son garners nominations next year. Yet, don't just trail off a list of big name failures. Find films that shamelessly took our money and utterly failed to entertain on any level. At least there's a modicum of warped fun in The Last Airbender, after all.

SHOW US THE VOTES

William Goldman has been saying this for years and it's hard not to agree. Why not, to have some transparency about matters, release the voting numbers in the big categories after the ceremony? Or perhaps list those best and worst pictures in a sequential list?

Given that people continue to look for ways to make awards interesting, this might liven things up a little.

SORT OUT YOUR SHOWS

Here's where the Razzies fares better. It keeps things simple, fun, and to the point. Contrast that with the layers of pretension around the Oscars and there's just no contest.

Because, for some reason, whoever produces the Oscars always manages to come out with the usual claptrap about how they are overhauling things this year, and then, save for a few fancy graphics, it all looks remarkably like last year's. Just with younger presenters.

Perhaps it might be best to concede that Oscar shows are arduous, and for Hollywood to give up fighting that? There are few of us who switch on the show expecting it to be a) short, b) enthralling, and c) without arduous lines to introduce each award. That's even before we get to the songs...

DON'T GIVE MILLIONAIRES GIFT BAGS

If you're really looking not to drive a wedge between your business and the customers of it, then you need to have a look at things on our side of the fence. It's a disgrace that even Oscar nominees on multimillion dollar salaries per film are given a bag full of goodies with a value of around $60,000 each.

That's not a gift bag, is it?. That could be three or four times the annual salary of the person who pays to watch movies, who keeps you in posh designer clothes. That's a good chunk towards someone's first home. Or the cost of sending a child away to university for a few years. It's obscene, and it sickens me year after year that this charade of bestowing massive gifts of people who can most afford to buy them anyway goes on.

To Hollywood's richest, I say this: why not have some decency, and give the bags back? Or use them to raise money, as I believe George Clooney did?

Or why doesn't someone appreciate just how outrageous that looks, and call the whole shoddy practice to an end?

HIRE A COMEDIAN TO HOST YOUR SHOW

They are very good at it. History tells us so. Just saying.

CHANGE THE NAME OF YOUR AWARDS

Can we stop pretending that either the Oscars or the Razzies are qualified to determine the best or worst of anything? Instead, let's call them what they are: television popularity contests.

When the Academy gives Best Picture to a film like Forrest Gump, or Titanic, or A Beautiful Mind (whether you like those films or not), people question whether it's lost its marbles. Especially when you consider the films that those pictures were deemed to be 'better' than.

This is, simply, a by-product of democracy, where a consensus has to be formed for someone to win. Where an expensive campaign has to be launched, where schmoozing has to take place, and where, generally, the popular, rather than the best, choice wins. Something has to be wrong when a decent film with a massive campaign behind it can oust a generally brilliant movie, without the same promotional gusto.

So, let's acknowledge that in the name of these awards. Instead of calling it Best Picture, call it Favourite Picture. Instead of Worst Film, how about Film We Liked The Least.

It's fundamentally more honest, and it actually reflects what the whole awards season is about.

MAKE STARS TURN UP

This is more aimed at the Razzies than the Oscars, obviously. But when Sandra Bullock picked up her Worst Actress crown in person last year, she joined a small bunch of people, including Paul Verhoeven and Halle Berry, who were willing to turn up when they'd been criticised, rather than praised.

Fair play to them, too, and to keep Hollywood egos in check, there should be some law passed somewhere that makes it compulsory to turn up to the Razzies if you're going along to the Oscars.

Which leads to our final idea...

MERGE THE CEREMONIES

This would be amazing, and instantly, I'd be back on board.

Instead of giving out the best and worst/favourite and least favourite gongs at different ceremonies, do them in one! Can you imagine?

Straight away there's all sorts of emotion going on in the room, given that the best and the worst of the year would be mingling. And the telecast could and should be an absolute hoot, too.

It'd add interest, ego-pricking, and, crucially, the potential for some exquisite entertainment. Neither show, independently of one another, can claim that so much these days...

Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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