Oscar Telecast to Be Moved to January? The Pros and Cons

The sometimes believable Nikki Finke has reported that at last night’s Board of Governor’s meeting for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), it was discussed whether or not the Oscar ceremony should be moved up to January. No confirmation of this change has been made, but it is alleged that the Oscars are trying to compete better with the slew of precursor Awards shows that roll out the red carpet weeks before the Oscars.

The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards all take place in January and have been increasing in popularity over the past several years. They have stars that are as big as the Oscars, they have movies that are more widely seen than the Oscars, and the don’t take themselves as seriously as the Oscars. The result has been slipping ratings for the Oscar telecast while the other Award shows stay strong. The rumor that the ceremony might be moved to January could be the Academy’s attempt to increase their relevance following last year’s decision to increase the number of Best Picture nominees to ten.

Yesterday it was announced that the producers for the 2011 Oscar ceremony have been selected. AMPAS president Tom Sherak announced that film producer Bruce Cohen and television producer Don Mischer will be producing the telecast. The announcement came a few months before it is traditionally made, which gives some validity to the rumor that the Oscar telecast may be moving earlier. However, the whole thing would be a logistical nightmare to organize especially because many of the older Academy members do not even have e-mail.

Here are some Pros and Cons to the possible date change for the Oscar Ceremony:

PROS

  1. Shorter Awards Season – All of the movies have to be released by December of the preceding year, but the Awards season drags on for months afterward. The movie season is thought to last from March to February and a January ceremony would likely allow the movie season to align with the calendar year.
  2. Oscar is King Again – The Oscar ceremony has been preempted by the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the BAFTAs, and all of the various precursors that are not televised. By the time late February or early March rolls around people are pretty tired of Awards. If the Oscars came on before any of those other ceremonies it would render them almost obsolete. They would be like the Pro Bowl is to the Super Bowl.
  3. Oscars Become More Unpredictable – There are well over 50 precursor awards handed out from critics groups and guilds throughout the months of December and January. By the time the Oscars roll around the possible winners are narrowed down to one or two possibilities in each categories. If there was less time for the Precursors, there may be more wild cards that take home statues on Oscar night.
  4. January and February Can Matter Again – With the extended Awards season it has been typical for studios to dump their garbage into January and February, months where people are so busy catching up on November and Decemeber’s award nominees that they don’t care about what’s new. The Oscar season might actually begin in January if the Oscar ceremony is over already.
  5. Awards are Less About Campaigns – In any voting situation it is inevitable to avoid campaigns. However, if the Oscar season is earlier it may prevent the long drawn out Awards campaign and make the Oscars all about movie quality and less about studio influence.

CONS

  1. Impossible to Coordinate – The Academy is notoriously full of old geezers who shy away from anything technology related. For every member of the Academy to be able to see every eligible movie by the time voting for nominations occurs in December would be nearly impossible. A solution would be to allow for them to post screeners online that are accessible to all Academy members. However, a good percentage of Academy members would be frightened and confused by the new technology.
  2. Could Ruin Christmas Movie Season – If January holds the Oscars, then December may become the new dump month for bad movies. One of the joys of December is the Christmas movie season where we get a chance to see some of the most anticipated movies of the year that have been building up to a Holiday release. December 25 may be too late for any films to be considered for any Oscars, so the films that are released on Christmas might be Box Office fluff (more Alvin and the Chipmunks sequels).
  3. Oscars Become Too Unpredictable – As much as I love a surprise on Oscar night, if the Awards season completely changes then I will have to completely change the way I look at predictions. I haven’t decided yet if that is a good or bad thing.
  4. It Will Compete With Football – January is the month for the NFL playoffs culminating in the Super Bowl at the end of the month. As much as this doesn’t make a difference for movie geeks like me, the casual Oscar watchers would be much more persuaded to watch the NFL playoffs. Unless the Oscar ceremony changes its night, Sunday’s in January will always belong to football.

MY PREDICTION: If the Oscars are going to be moved to January, it won’t be this year. That would be way too much of a headache for studios and the Academy alike. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if June of 2011 brought that official announcement.

What do you think are pros and cons of a possible January move?

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  • Jose

    How about no, it’s already bad enough having Oscar season in February and not seeing all the films, now imagine that happening in January.

  • raguabros

    I agree with Jose. We need the time to watch the films before the ceremony. It should be in February. Last year was dreadful because it was moved to March. February is perfect.

  • Andrew R.

    I really hope it stays in Febuary…didn’t they learn ANYTHING from last year’s crappy ceremony?

  • Jose

    I actually preffered it in March.

  • raguabros

    Even though we had more time last year to watch all the nominees, i felt like the season dragged on and we had to wait an eternity for the ceremony. By the time it was broadcasted too much had been spoken about the films and we already knew who would win what. February is great for me.

  • I agree that February is the best time. Early to mid February is the best. All of the end of the year critics awards are usually done in December and the clear winner is usually known by then. Last year the Awards season felt like an eternity.

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