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How to Fix the Oscars

March 30, 2022 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
94th Annual Academy Awards Image Credit: ABC

I originally wrote this before the Oscars on Sunday and adding this paragraph to recognize the events that took place. While thoughts on what transpired deserve its own column, I thought overall the ceremony was well done and had several of the things I touched upon below. Take away the infamous slap and I believe this would have been one of the more popular Oscar telecasts in recent memory.

But on to the original column…

Ah, the Oscars! A night where Hollywood takes a moment and recognizes the very best in cinematic achievement. Where millions gather around their television and cheer on their favorite actor, actress, director, screenplay, and son. Where the next day is filled with talk about the previous night’s winners and losers. Where…

OK, I think we all know how this is going to go. Whenever you see a title “How to Fix the Oscars” you know the “sToP tAlKiNG AbOut pOliTiCS!” crowd will come and spout their complaints. 

Look, if you’re that upset over a 2-minute speech, there’s nothing I can do for you and you’d just cry over something else so let’s move along.

Check out some of the greatest moments…

The event draws its share of fans but also its share of distaste. Back in the day, George C. Scott refused the Best Actor award for Patton. He dismissed the awards as “a two-hour meat parade”.

Some say he nailed it.

It was a far cry from how things were back in May of 1929 when members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first gathered to celebrate their own achievements. While tens of millions watch the Oscars, the first show only received a single paragraph of attention in the pages of Time magazine. It would be a little longer before the Hollywood marketing machine would realize the potential an awards show holds.

It’s 2022 and the Oscars are in desperate need of evolving with the times. One or two little changes won’t change anything so let’s admit they need to overhaul the whole thing. 

Starting with the…

Involve the Movie Theaters
For an industry that makes movies for movie theaters, I’m always amazed by how poorly Hollywood treats theaters. They charge them fees to show the movie and make it so theater owners have to gouge you on popcorn and candy in order to turn a profit. 
How about putting some money into theaters, updating them with the latest tech, and making the movie going experience something to look forward to?
For Oscar night, have select theaters host Oscar Watching Party. Have a few celebrities in attendance, give out one or two of the same Gift Bags that presenters get, and pump it out over social media. During the telecast you can cut to the various theaters and make it a happening. 

Discount the Nominated Movies
Get people to see the nominated films by making them widely available and discounted a month or so before the show. Have an Oscar pass that they can use to see as many of these as possible so they can come into the show with a solid idea of who and what is nominated. Shoot, have Oscar themed weekends leading up to the event so people have a chance to check them out. 

Make the Oscars Easy to Watch
Make the show available internationally and across a number of free platforms. The goal is to get as many eyes to see it as possible so why limit things? Put it on everywhere that people are. A family can watch it on TV or a guy in Canada can stream it on his mobile device. No subscription or cable package needed. 

Two Nights
OK, I know this one will draw some ire but hear me out. Night one will be the technical awards….BUT it will also be the more fun night. Have it packed with fan favorite celebrities like Mark Hamill or Patton Oswalt hosting the night. Make it loose and more entertainment friendly. Have cast reunions on stage presenting or invite legends from Hollywood past to make an appearance. 
The second night will be more Hollywood glitz and glamour. But I’d still embrace the past while focusing on the big awards. Keep things moving while celebrating the past, present, and future of movies. 

Let the Streamers In
CODA has become the first film from a streaming service to win Best Picture at the Oscars, in a sign of the growing power of streamers like Apple, Netflix, and Amazon at the Oscars. You can’t deny that audiences are taking in their movies in totally new ways. The Academy has to acknowledge and accept that going forward so CODA won’t become a one and done. We’re getting some incredible output from streaming services and that needs to be looked at. You can even make them available to see in theaters, giving people a chance to see them on the big screen. Opening things up will get people more engaged with what’s being nominated instead of saying, “I’ve never even heard of that.”

More Members
The Academy needs to open the door more to get a wider demographic of members to vote. This isn’t anything new and something that can be done right away. I think I read somewhere that the average age of an Oscar voter is 63 years old. Time to bring that average down. 

New Categories
I’ve long been a supporter for Best Stunt Coordinator and Best Casting. Take a look at different aspects and see what’s not being properly recognized. 
About the Stunt Coordinators, I interviewed Stunt Legend Jack Gill about the subject and he told me, ” Sign the Care 2 petition at and contact the Academy to tell them that they need to open their eyes to what the people of the world want! An ACTION OSCAR category…and keep calling them over and over until they make the change.
You can also flood the publicity department at their email Just send an email a day until they change their minds.” Let’s go!

Embrace the Past…and Change!
Embrace social media, embrace the past, and have an opening montage that celebrates and includes the best song. Make the show truly something that shows why we love movies. 
I want to see it all on Oscar weekend. From stars of the past to the up-and-comers. Yes, the ceremony has a stigma to it but that doesn’t mean you just stop or just accept it as “the way things are”. The potential for a new and improved Oscar night (weekend!) is huge. 

Before I leave you, I thought it would be fun to share some trivia with you:

* Gone With The Wind is the longest Best Picture winner, clocking in at a languorous 234 minutes. You could watch the shortest winner, Marty, two and a half times before Zendaya hangs up her gown.

* Midnight Cowboy is the only X-rated film to win Best Picture, although A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris have received nominations.

* Oscar voting takes place in two parts: in the first vote, members of the Academy’s 15 branches vote on their area of expertise (e.g. Directors of Photographys vote on Best Cinematography), making five picks in order, as well choosing a movie for Best Picture. These need a 5% share of the vote to secure a nomination. In the final round, members vote on every category with the winner arrived at via a first-past-the-post system.

* To win a Best Picture, Oscar history says you should make a weighty drama or solemn biopic, rather than a comedy, sci-fi or horror.

* To qualify for Best Picture, a film needs to be at least 40 minutes long, have been shown at an LA cinema for at least a week in the previous year and have a projection resolution of 2048 x 1080 pixels.

* Of the 55 Oscars that were stolen by truck driver Lawrence Ladent in March 2000, 52 were returned by his accomplice’s brother, one was recovered in a Miami drugs raid three years later and two are still missing.

* The sealed envelope dates back to 1941. In 1940 the LA Times broke the Academy’s embargo and published the names of all the winners before the ceremony. The jerks.

* The longest speech in Oscar history was given by Greer Garson, winner of Best Actress for Mrs Miniver. Garson rattled on for nearly seven minutes. She was nominated again on four occasions but never repeated her success.

OK, your turn. How would you “fix” the Oscars?

article topics :

Academy Awards, Steve Gustafson