Academy Awards show much improvement

Juliana Moraes-Liu, Author

The 84th annual  Academy  Awards, held on Sunday, Feb. 26, was the best of these award shows that I have seen in a long time. The flow was better, the entertainment was actually entertaining and the recipients of the awards seemed to have deserved them. 

The quality of the Oscars notably improved and everything seemed even more classy than usual. The general theme of the event was the significance  of movies in people’s lives, and the show was replete with put-together interviews of celebrities talking about their childhood  memories of going to the movies. Genuine or not, it made me feel less silly for spending a Sunday night watching an awards ceremony on cable television. In these clips, actors and actresses sat in front of a black screen and spoke directly to the camera, telling their honest stories in a setting of crisp audio quality, perfect lighting and serene music in the background.

The show itself was much more cohesive this time around. Commentary,  such as that of Natalie Portman, occured between the announcing of different  nominees for Best Actor category, and helped connect the show and keep the Oscars from simply being a boring list-like sequence of awards. In previous years, I always found myself bored at some time, but the flow was perfect this time around and I didn’t ever feel the inclination to play Doodle Jump on my phone.

A new feature this year was the discussion of why each nominee deserved an award, which happened during the clip of segments from the film. These were especially helpful for people like me who had not seen most of the movies and would otherwise lack something to ground the awards with. Such commentary was so effective, that by the end of the show I had a list of movies in my mind that I wanted to see next time I find myself with the inclination to not do homework on a Sunday night.

This year, the people in the audience at the Oscars seemed to behave much more like a family. When a winner was announced, he or she was congratulated by people sitting near the aisles while walking towards the stage, finally convinving me that the classic Hollywood cliche of “being a family on set” was true, or that at least these people’s work was remarkable enough for others to stand up and congratulate them. 

The presentation of these Academy Awards also did not seem rushed. Instead of having audience members listen to the awards at a fast pace, the producers of the Oscars allocated time for commentary and clips, giving the entire show a more genuine feeling. I didn’t feel the need to count how many seconds over the time limit people’s speeches were, for there was no annoying music to indicate that their time was over. I really appreciated the lack of this music, which I personally consider to be extremely rude. After just having won an Oscar, a person should be allowed to say their thank-yous without having to shout to be heard. I don’t know what instructions were given to the nominees, but no speeches went on forever, and people seemed to respect the timer at the back of the auditorium. 

The genuine feeling of the awards were furthered by host Billy Crystal, who had already hosted eight Academy Awards in the past. He obviously knew what he was doing, for he managed to engage the audience, and a few times even charmingly introduced the announcers. Compared to James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s constant appearances onstage, Crystal showed himself more conservatively, and kept me from getting bored of the same faces time and time again. 

An obvious cosideration of those that produced the show was finding a way to keep younger audiences interested. They made fun of their desire for this demographic by starting off the show with a short skit involving Justin Bieber, which was admitedly very funny. I think that what they did this year — putting on a quality show with entertainment such as Cirque du Soleil for all ages, and including acts by celebrities who tend to perform for younger audiences, like Emma Stone and the cast of Bridesmaids — worked amazingly and probably captured more audience member’s attention than ever before.