Should the Oscars Nominate Certain Films to Obtain Better TV Ratings?

Recently I have seen people saying how they won’t be watching the Oscars now that The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. The poster to the right is a mock-up of the official 81st Academy Awards poster made by someone that obviously believes people will not be tuning in now that a sympathetic Nazi is in contention and Batman is not. I wonder though, why is it that people would have watched the Oscars if The Dark Knight had been nominated for Best Picture? It’s not like anyone ever thought it had a chance of winning. So what difference would it have made?

I can understand the point if this were a situation such as in 2004 when The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was nominated for Best Picture and went on to win 11 Oscars and everyone pretty much expected it to win after the first two films had seemingly been overlooked in order to award the third film as a gesture of goodwill. However, with The Dark Knight it wasn’t going to win, but Heath Ledger still will. Sure it was a bummer Chris Nolan didn’t get a director nod or the fact the script didn’t get a nomination, but with eight nominations to its credit it could still do quite well.

I have a feeling the animosity comes as a result of people feeling as if they are watching an award show that simply doesn’t come close to sharing their opinion on film, which means they don’t connect to what they are watching and would be bored quickly, or possibly even mildly offended when one film is called the best of the year and they either haven’t seen it (or perhaps heard of it) and their favorite film didn’t even have a chance. Had The Dark Knight simply been given that Best Picture nod it would have allowed for the art house snobs and the fanboys to finally agree on something. Unfortunately, selling Batman to the Academy is far different than selling Tolkien.

However, I remain stuck on this argument with regards to the ratings. Should the Academy consider television ratings when picking their year’s best? Instead of voting The Dark Knight as their fourth or fifth favorite film of 2008 should it move up to #1 or #2, simply to ensure it gets nominated and therefore excites the general public into watching their show?

One of the more vocal Oscar bloggers upset with the decision to not include The Dark Knight as one of the five Best Picture nominees was Kris Tapley at In Contention, but based on his top ten films of 2008 and the way the Academy counts the votes his pick for The Dark Knight as the fifth best film of the year wouldn’t have really helped matters. Especially if everyone voted similarly.

Based on what I believe are flawed voting procedures, if the majority of the Academy members didn’t have The Dark Knight in their top 3 it had an almost impossible chance at receiving a Best Picture nom. I listed it as my fourth favorite film of 2008 so I am afraid my ballot wouldn’t have helped much either.

I would be interested to see how close it came to making the Best Picture list because I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been close, but I will say the last thing I would like to see would be for the Oscars to begin nominating films and performances simply as an effort to gain ratings. Then again, if they were ever going to do such a thing this would have been the year since it wouldn’t look like pandering, which is what could happen later on down the line. So often with the Academy they are always a year or two behind the times and it becomes the reason why people begin winning Oscars because it was “their time”. Is The Departed really the film that should have won Martin Scorsese his first Oscar? It’s another reason why Milk may stand a chance after the gay cowboy movie was outdone by the long forgotten coincidence flick Crash.

It’s the reason people thought Clint Eastwood would get an acting nomination for Gran Torino since he has never won an Oscar for acting. This year it looks like Kate Winslet is the “deserving” winner. I guess 33-years-old is considered old when you see Meryl Streep won her first statue at the age of 30. Winslet only has 6 nominations to Streep’s 15 and the Academy needs a new golden girl for the next several years. However, Winslet is getting nominated at a faster rate than Streep who didn’t hit 6 noms until she was 37. What’s up with that?

The Oscars are already bordering on irrelevance after recent years and a rise in online coverage and discussion points out many of the flaws. So many people have their eyes on the show now and expectations to change with the times continue to grow. Will the Academy ever join the ranks of the majority or will they continue to remain in obscurity for the sake of doing so?

Questions to consider:

  • Should the Oscars nominate films to obtain better TV ratings?
  • Should box-office results be considered?
  • Should critical reviews be considered?
  • Consider some Rotten Tomato Ratings:
    • WALL-E (96%)
    • The Dark Knight (94%)
    • Iron Man (93%)
    • U2 3D (92%)
    • The Wrestler (98%)
    • 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (97%)
    • Let the Right One In (97%)
    • The Reader (60%)
    • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (71%)
    • Milk (93%)
    • Frost/Nixon (91%)
    • Slumdog Millionaire (94%)
  • Do you think the Oscars will ever change?

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