The critics are unanimous. Kind of. The Academy Awards this year were only mediocre. If I had to provide an overall voice for the critics, it would be this: “The Academy tries to revive Oscar with two hosts, 10 best picture nominees and new categories. It didn’t work.”
But when it came to why, exactly, the Oscars fell short, none of the critics seemed to agree. Some reviewers praised exactly what other reviewers despised, but they all came to the same conclusion.
Some thought Ben Stiller as an Avatar was funny, while others found it awkward; some thought Jeff Bridges’ Dude-esque acceptance speech was charming, while others thought it was rambling; and really what could critics say about Neil Patrick Harris’ song and dance about sodomy and masturbation to open the show? Confusing and baffling to say the least.
I have to say the most striking reason is the generational gaps between viewers of movies. Now more than ever we have a vast array of movies trying to target specific audiences; there are movies for young children, young adults and adults. H0w do you concoct a show that is relevant to all these groups? Well, the Academy doesn’t quite seem to have that figured out.
This is part of the reason that Oscar has always had a hard time loosening its tie. It seems the Academy is stuck in limbo as it tries to hold on to tradition and still stay up on the times. This method has proven again and again not to work. As there are generational changes in taste in Hollywood (think comedic shifts to the Apatow Gang from Stiller and Vaughn, from indies to blockbusters, etc.) the Academy always seems to be behind, the figurative parent trying to use words like ‘chill’ and ‘dude’ when their children’s friends are over at the house.
Personally, I think the ties to a generation’s humor or taste in movies runs far deeper than people think. My generation’s humor is very specific, so much so that we almost reject all other forms. We look down our noses when humor from another generation is used, laughing only because we’re embarrassed for the performer. I think this goes the other way as well; our parents and their friends don’t understand why we’re so attached to our humor. They just think it’s strange, derogatory and too sarcastic.
I would venture a guess for how the Academy should format the show for coming years, but I really have no idea. They are working with a broad audience, from young to old. Will Oscar ever succeed, be as glorious as it once was? Good question. We’ll just have to wait and see.