Oscar gets less than top marks for performance
So, did the Oscar organisers do enough to reverse the decline in TV ratings? That was, after all, the strategy behind increasing the number of best picture nominees from five to 10. Inviting such icons of infancy as Miley Cyrus and Taylor Lautner to present awards also looked like an attempt to court a younger demographic that has been drifting away from Oscar over the past decade.
Well, initial indications suggest that the US viewing figures for last Sunday’s ceremony were up about 14 per cent on last year’s bash. Some 41 million US viewers tuned in, making the 2010 awards the most-watched since 2005.
In truth, this is not quite as significant an improvement as the organisers might have hoped for. The highpoint for Oscar viewing came in 1998, when 55 million US viewers turned on to watch the most successful film ever made – some James Cameron production – take the top prize. If the Academy can’t recreate that success when Avatar is in hot competition, when can they do it?
The overriding sense of antique oddness about this year’s ceremony will not have helped the cause much. The set looked as though it had been dusted off from the 1972 ceremony. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin seemed unable to read the autocue. The stage announcements were often inaudible to TV viewers. And George Clooney scowled throughout like a recently spanked four-yearold. Good luck, next year, Academy.
“Think of it as Mayberry,” Stephen Precourt, a Republican politician, said, referring to the idyllic setting of ancient sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. “That’s when I grew up – the ’60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”
Precourt was asked if the inclusion of gay characters in a script would be enough to deny a film state support. “That would not be the kind of thing I’d say that we want to invest public dollars in,” he replied unambiguously.
There’s the great makings of a really serious brawl in this developing controversy.
Frankly creaking: Martin and Baldwin adding to the antique oddness of this year’s Oscars