Six reasons the Oscars will probably stink - VIDEO
As I perused the Academy Award nominations yesterday, I couldn't help but think that this year's broadcast is going to have a hard time drawing a huge TV audience. And considering that the only thing you can usually count on with the Oscars is that they'll run over three hours long, the show will probably leave something to be desired, too.
In fact, here's six reasons the Oscars -- which will be broadcast live on February 22 on ABC -- will probably stink.
1) Has anybody seen these movies?
Have you seen Frozen River? Do you know anybody who has? I had to look it up when I read that Melissa Leo was a Best Actress nominee from that film. Unfortunately, even the most popular films on the Oscar nomination list are only marginal box office hits. That means most TV viewers will not have seen Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader and Milk, four of the five Best Picture nominees. Only The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the big three-hour movie with Brad Pitt, has been playing wide at the multiplexes. The really big box office films, especially a blockbuster like The Dark Knight, deserved to be nominated and would have been a ratings draw. Alas, only technical nods for The Dark Knight, Iron Man, et. al.
2) Where are the star nominees?
I loved Richard Jenkins in The Visitor. He was great. He was also the father on Six Feet Under, so I recognized him. And Sean Penn's won before, just a few years ago for Mystic River. Still, where are the big star nominations? Wasn't Clint Eastwood predicted to be a nominee for Gran Torino? What about Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road? True, Brad Pitt is a big star, and it would be nice to see him honored, but who's Melissa Leo? Angelina Jolie is a star, but I think I'm like one of a dozen people who saw Changeling, so what chance does she have of winning?
3) That's entertainment?
You know what occurs to me when I watch the trailer for The Wrestler? How atrocious Mickey Rourke looks. This movie may be great, but geez, it looks depressing. Take a look:
On the other hand, Tropic Thunder was hilarious. Even Mamma Mia! was entertaining. There was lots of action in The Dark Knight, and I enjoyed every bit of Iron Man. This year's Oscar noms are filled with serious, mournful stories. Doubt: Catholic school drama. The Reader: Holocaust. Milk: assassination. Changeling: abducted children. Rachel Getting Married: druggie daughter ruining a wedding.
4) Why no love for the blockbusters?
There was a time when Hollywood was a lot more attuned to the population. Movies that won the Oscars for Best Picture were blockbusters. This held true through The Lord of the Rings and Titanic, but an awful lot of really popular, really great films have been snubbed by the Oscars. In 1980, for instance, Ordinary People won Best Picture, while The Empire Strikes Back -- perhaps the best of the Star Wars trilogy -- wasn't even nominated. When blockbusters are in the running for the big awards, TV viewers are more inclined to tune in.
5) Hugh Jackman as the host.
Before the new producers decided on Hugh Jackman as the host of this year's broadcast, Ricky Gervais was considered. Gervais, who was the funniest presenter at the recent Golden Globes, would have been an inspired choice. You want a funny host. Billy Crystal was quintessentially good. Johnny Carson, who did it for years, was also very good. Other possibilities include the likes of Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey, both of whom ranked high in our TV Squad poll. Instead of Ricky or Billy or Stephen or Tina, Hugh will be the man. I like Hugh Jackman. He's very, very talented, and as the host of the Tony Awards, he showed off his terrific singing and dancing. You know what's interesting about the Tony Awards? Nobody watches them. That's not what the Oscars want. Also, Hugh's last foray into TV was Viva Laughlin. 'Nuff said.
6) Will there be stars ... who knows?
In years past, you could look forward to seeing some of Hollywood's biggest stars -- past and present -- at the Oscars. You'd see Sean Connery and Tom Hanks presenting. Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford having a reunion. Halle Berry looking gorgeous. Jim Carrey talking out of his butt. This year if the stars are going to be there, it'll be a surprise. You won't know beforehand because the producers, in their infinite wisdom, are not announcing who will be presenting in advance. Therefore, that means if someone's not interested in the films that have been nominated, will he or she tune in for a chance to see Hollywood's biggest names on parade? There's a reason you publicize an all-star line up -- to make people watch.
Well, even though I'm sure to be disappointed again, I will be watching the Oscars and hoping for the best.