Oscar organisers struggle to restore glory, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Oscar organisers struggle to restore glory

One observer says organisers are 'acting out of desperation'

LOS ANGELESFirst it was the furore over a proposed new "popular" film category, then it was the fiasco over planned host Kevin Hart, and last month, the organisers of the Oscars were accused of intimidating celebrities not to present at rival awards shows.

Last week, another storm erupted when plans to present awards for Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Short Films and Make-up and Hairstyling during commercial breaks were slammed as insulting by actors, directors and cinematographers. Days later, the plan for the Feb 24 ceremony was scrapped.

It has been a tough 12 months for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as it battles to restore its annual Oscar show to a must-see event after the US TV audience slumped to an all-time low last year.

"This year, the bigger question than who will win at the Oscars is what the heck is going on at the academy?" said Mr Tim Gray, awards editor at Hollywood publication Variety.

"I feel they are flailing around and acting out of desperation."

Under pressure from the ABC network to trim and liven up the ceremony, the academy has seen many of its efforts backfire.

"It is caught between its role as a venerable institution that confers honours for the ages on film and the demands of the hurly-burly of social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the demands of the ratings," said Ms Sharon Waxman, founder and editor-in-chief of Hollywood website The Wrap.

ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke told reporters earlier this month she believed the publicity around the Kevin Hart withdrawal showed the Oscars was still relevant.

"I, ironically, have found that the lack of clarity around the Oscars has kept the Oscars really in the conversation, and that the mystery has really been compelling," Ms Burke said.

"People really care."

The missteps have all but drowned out initial kudos over this year's diverse Oscar nominations list, which range from arthouse films such as Netflix's Roma to superhero blockbuster Black Panther and musicals Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born.

Awards watchers have said the academy's efforts to deliver a compelling show for viewers still risk falling flat.

"It is dealing yet again with what appears to be a leading film that is a very small film, in Spanish, and in black and white, that has not been seen by that many people. That is the more fundamental problem the academy is facing with this telecast," Ms Waxman said, referring to Best Picture front-runner Roma.

Recent Best Picture winners include small arthouse films The Shape Of Water last year and Moonlight in 2017.

Variety's Mr Gray said that for the movie industry, the Oscar ceremony is always an enjoyable family get-together.

"(But) the Oscars should also be fun for the viewing audience," he said. "We will see if it is." - REUTERS