The Oscars, Who's Watching?

The Academy Awards, the biggest awards ceremony, takes place February 22nd. Anyone watching? I ask this because it seems somewhat quiet leading up to the famed awards show. The Academy is even trying to change things up, by not announcing any of the presenters before hand and adding Hugh Jackman as the host (I don't remember the last time when a comedian wasn't hosting).

Well, hopefully whatever they do, they make the Oscars much more entertaining than years past. Usually it starts off great with the opening monologue, then for some reason they feel the need to put a billion montage pieces together to stretch the show into an insomniac state (I love movies, but I don't need to be reminded of every single movie that ever came out).

I also think this year is quiet because it partially pertains to the movies that are nominated. As much as I like, and as much of a buzz Slumdog Millionaire is getting, most of the public has still not seen it.

The Best Picture Nominations and their total US gross as of 2-12-09
Frost/Nixon: $15,846,936
The Reader: $16,716,220
Milk: $25,560,987
Slumdog Millionaire: $78,734,038
The Curious Case of Benjiman Button: $120,461,716

The highest grossing film on that list, The Curious Case of Benjiman Button, is... obviously a huge studio film (with a reported $150 million budget), only ranks in 19th place of the top grossing 2008 movies, right behind Gran Torino, which probably should have gotten some nominations, but didn't. It would've been a different story say, if The Dark Knight or WALL-E (one of the highest rated films of 2008) were in the best picture race. The Dark Knight vs WALL-E vs Slumdog Millionaire, who will pull it off? I think more people would be interested in that. This also makes me think the only big hype leading into this show is the Heath Ledger nod; he was great as the Joker, and almost everyone on earth has seen The Dark Knight.

Now, I am not saying that the Academy should skew their voting towards commercial fan fare films, so they can get more viewers. It's just that with the current best picture list, it doesn't instigate any real interest (I can barely remember who won last year, let alone a couple of years ago). By now, almost everyone expects Slumdog Millionaire to win, and it probably will. But if the viewers replicate that of this year's Golden Globes (14.6 million viewers), then the Oscars may be in trouble. The Washington Post reports on the Golden Globes, "this year's TV audience was the smallest since the awards moved to network television in 1994."

On the flip side, more people are staying home because of the bad economy, but don't expect the Oscars to reach Superbowl ratings (95.4 million viewers, second highest according to Nielsen). It's funny that all the new, big, summer movie trailers appear with the Superbowl, rather than the Academy Awards. But that's business. It would be great though, if they did tie in new, never-before seen 3D trailers to the Oscars, but then again, I'm not part of their marketing team.

Anyways, on February 22nd, the Academy Awards will roll out their red carpet (wait, is there still gonna be a red carpet?) for the 81st time and let their new, surprising, ceremony, glorify network television. Will you be watching?

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