It’s no surprise that there’s often quite the disconnect between the movies most moviegoers want to see and the movies that have all the Oscar buzz. Occasionally, there will be years where the two cross over in a big way (such as American Sniper and Argo), but sometimes most of the people watching these movies are the ones who sit down to vote for them in the first place (like when The Artist won). While many of these Oscar contenders are undoubtedly great as pieces of art, they’re not often the most feel good of movies, and occasionally, it seems like the Academy is in a constant quest to award the most hilariously violent and dark movies for the sake of them being dark and violent.
The 30 Rock "Hard to Watch" parody was the perfect representation of the disconnect there, and heck, even watching Leonardo DiCaprio scratch and claw his way to an Oscar in The Revenant is an indication there. In fact, so often does it seem like the Academy is looking for these “hard to watch” films, that it feels like the bigger budget movies are easily overlooked and dismissed as disposable entertainment. If you’ve spent many a time thinking about that very fact, then you’re not alone.
In an interview with The Daily Best, acclaimed director James Cameron spoke on the Academy Awards, their low ratings, and their unwillingness to climb down from their towers and award movies that people actually head to the theaters to see.
“There have been a few times throughout the history of the Oscars where a wildly popular film was well-received, but your typical year the Academy takes the position of: ‘It is our patrician duty to tell the great unwashed what they should be watching,’ and they don’t reward the films that people really want to see — that they’re paying money to go see — and they’re telling them, ‘Yeah, you think you like that, but what you should be liking is this.’ And as long as the Academy sees that as their duty, don’t expect high ratings. Expect a good show, and do that duty, but don’t whine about your ratings. Titanic was a very unusual case. I’m not saying it’s a better film than films before or after, or it was necessarily a better year in general, but it was a film that made a boatload of money and got a lot of nominations. The next time we see that, we’ll see ratings go up. It’s that simple.”
Cameron definitely has a point. While he isn’t really chastising the Academy for their choices — they are, after all, their choices to make — he does throw in a real understanding of the economics behind it all. When Titanic won back in 1999, the Academy Awards had 57.25 million viewers. By comparison, last year’s awards ceremony had 34.4 million viewers, which is quite a difference. Of course, times have changed since 1999, and every show and network has a lot of competition to deal with. Between video games, movies, books, the internet, and everything in between, there are more forms of entertainment vying for your eyes than ever. All the same, an audience is definitely more likely to watch an awards show if they have a vested interest in the participants.
So we guess the question here is whether or not that should matter. Should the Academy strive to include more mainstream films? Is trying to up the viewership of the Oscars in their best interest, or should they stick to their artistic sensibilities and eat the cost of doing so?
Let us know your thoughts down below!
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SOURCE: The Daily Beast