The Oscars Awards ceremony will be broadcast and live-streamed on Sunday night, but does anyone truly care?
It wasn’t always this way. In 1998, with Titanic expected to dominate the awards, 55.8 million viewers watched the show. Last year, just 10.4 million viewers tuned in.
A large part of the dropoff in interest is that the movies really aren’t that interesting. As an example, here are the last 10 films to win the “Best Picture” award:
2021 – Nomadland
2020 – Parasite
2019 – Green Book
2018 – The Shape of Water
2017 – Moonlight
2016 – Spotlight
2015 – Birdman
2014 – 12 Years a Slave
2013 – Argo
2012 – The Artist
2011 – The King’s Speech
The only thing they have in common is a stifling mediocrity. Argo told the fascinating tale of six Americans trapped in Iran who escaped capture when the embassy was overrun. But the story was told poorly and suffered from inferior writing and direction.
Just for contrast, here are 10 years of Oscar winners from 1981-90.
1990 – Driving Miss Daisy
1989 – Rain Man
1988 – The Last Emperor
1987 – Platoon
1986 – Out of Africa
1985 – Amadeus
1984 – Terms of Endearment
1983 – Gandhi
1982 – Chariots of Fire
1981 – Ordinary People
The one constant in all of those films was brilliant storytelling.
For Our VIPs: Finally, A Tolerable Awards Show
The falloff in viewership for the Oscars is mirrored by the falloff in ticket sales at the box office. According to Gallup, Americans attended 4.8 films a year between 2001–2007. Last year, Americans attended an average of just 1.4 movies. Some of that decline is almost certainly due to COVID-19 restrictions. But even prior to the pandemic, audiences were voting with their feet — and their wallets — and avoiding the movie theater.
It’s hard to sit through the telling of any story when you’re being relentlessly lectured to about race or gender, or how awful America is.
Can the Oscars be saved from itself? Better question: are the movies worth saving?
If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences really wants to push back against the Torquemadas of the progressive left, it could include an addendum to its “In memoriam” section listing all the Hollywood celebrities who were canceled in 2021. Number one on the list would be Alec Baldwin, clutching a prop gun and flashing a cheeky grin.
Here’s another suggestion: why not introduce a rule whereby any winner who expresses support for a political cause during their acceptance speech has to forfeit their gold statuette? This is a role that Ricky Gervais was born for. I can imagine him marching up to Steven Spielberg, snatching the Oscar from his hand and saying: “Sorry, but a man who owns a $70 million private jet doesn’t get to lecture us about climate change.”
Hollywood rarely, if ever, was a trendsetter. The movies marched in tandem with American sensibilities on race and on the role of women in American society. Films, at times, tried to prod us to be more accepting of other races and of female equality. But it was almost always portrayed in the context of generating sympathy for an individual character and not as a crusade for change.
But films today have lost touch with the great mass of people. They have abandoned portraying the values of ordinary people in favor of trying to stuff alien values down the moviegoer’s throats.
The result is predictable. And for those of us who love movies, the results are tragic.