The 2022 Oscars ceremony was mostly a disaster, even if you were to pluck out that big thing that happened onstage, with the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences deciding to make a handful of seemingly major changes to how the show traditionally plays out in order to cater exclusively to the people who don’t watch the Oscars and never will watch the Oscars.
The confusing fan-voted categories were part of this, with “the Flash enters the Speed Force” set up to be the perfect punchline for the Oscars until that thing happened onstage, but the change that is still garnering controversy, even when it ended up making no real difference on the actual night, is the Academy’s decision to bump a handful of categories from the live broadcast. (The winners were shown and made speeches, they just didn’t do it live.)
Speaking with The Daily Beast, Richard Linklater said the Oscars had “two ways to go” in terms of how to make the show, and in trying to reach out to the people who don’t care about the Oscars (Linklater says “younger audience,” but that doesn’t seem totally accurate), they made the wrong choice. Instead, he says the Academy should “just get more rigorous” and “more hardcore” with the ceremony.
“Don’t pander. Don’t cut categories and say, ‘Well, nobody cares who edits.’ Bullshit.” He says that the industry should care about editors, and it does, but changes like what the Oscars did have “been going on for a while” anyway. Linklater also lamented the loss of the seeing the Lifetime Achievement Award presented live, since it was “beautiful” and provided an opportunity to “see the aging filmmaker come up and get their honorary Oscar,” at least partially because “usually, the person would die the next year.”
Linklater’s idea to go “more hardcore” with the Oscars seems like a good idea, though, and one that the Academy should really consider. It’s similar to how the Grammys have steered almost entirely away from presenting awards at all in favor of a show that’s really just a string of performances. No skits, no awkward pre-taped segments, just “we’re a show about music, here’s some music.” The Grammy ratings were nearly on par with the terrible Oscar ratings this year, so clearly there’s some justification in having the Oscars look at how the Grammys operate.
In lieu of just watching a movie, the “hardcore” Oscars could be a deep dive on what, exactly, people like editors or visual effects artists or costume designers actually do, giving the audience a better idea of what goes into making a movie beyond the contributions of the director and actors. It may not be as exciting on paper as the Flash entering the Speed Force, but it’s not like the Oscars have anything to lose at this point.