- Viknesh Silvalingam
A Low Oscar ratings does not mean film is dying!
"This moment is so much bigger than me. It's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."
- Halle Berry (1*) becomes the first black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, Monster's Ball, 2000
10 days ago, the 93rd Oscars (Academy Awards) ceremony, broadcasted live from Los Angeles. It is no hidden secret that the ratings hit an all-time low for that event. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, an average of 9.85 million viewers tuned in on the 25th of April to watch a very oddly, differently presented Oscars in the midst of a pandemic(2*)
Even before COVID, Oscar ratings had been in free-fall. Viewership during the 2010s plummeted to barely half of what it had been at the start of the decade. The show in 2010 had garnered 42 million viewers, but by 2020 only 24 million Americans were tuning in. (3*)
Yes, the Oscars can be considered a failure in the ratings, presentations, and depending on your taste, the winners. But there is one important aspect that it has won, the celebration of independent films.
By focusing on independent work with a low production cost, it entices investors to put their money on such projects with the hope of being a part of a project that highlights original work.
The last 3 best picture winners, Green Book, Parasite, and Nomadland cost, USD 23M, USD 12M, and USG 5M respectively. 2007 winner, The Departed cost USD 90M.
In an age when Hollywood seems to be run exclusively by Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, accountants, and Wall Street, it’s refreshing to be reminded of an award with only one true motive: recognizing real artistic excellence.
Winning the best picture doesn't mean you will get extraordinary box office returns. Looking at the chart below, the only film that seems to have a decent record is LOTR, back in 2004!
I'll not take the returns of Nomadland too seriously because of the pandemic and the cinemas being shut down.
Overall, I feel that we shouldn't take the Oscars too seriously. It's ultimately an industry award where everyone pats themselves on the back. And since it's show business we expect the ceremony to be entertaining. Ceremonies are never meant to entertain. Maybe they should move the entire event to a streaming platform. Or if they really want to go back to its glory days, bring a host back. Call it the Academy Awards instead of the Oscars. Overall they need a major rebranding. If not, I am worried that they may not be relevant by the time they reach their centennial. AND I do still have that shimmer of hope of one day being invited to attend the ceremony either as a guest or as a nominee. #lifegoals