One Thing I’d Change About the Oscars – Part 4: Ben Stark

Academy Adjustments is a series of posts that will run up until the March 2 Academy Awards. Each of the Film Nerds will detail what single change they would make to the Oscars if they were put in charge of the Academy. You can see Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

Today’s post comes from Ben Stark.

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ACCEPT NOMINATIONS YEAR-ROUND.

I don’t know about you, but my December is far busier than it needs to be. Not only am I trying to make more time for visiting friends and family, but I’m trying to buy gifts for my wife and others. Plus, things at work usually get a bit more hectic as customers try to wrap up projects before the end of the year. The last thing I need is the pressure to see the best films of the year in a four-week window… and yet that’s exactly what happens every year. Why? I’d argue it’s because studios only release their best work during this four-week period, despite having a fifty two-week year available to them.

According to Oscars.org, “nomination ballots are mailed to the Academy’s active members in late December and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting firm, in January.” This only leaves voters a few weeks to catch up on all the films that are in release, and it certain doesn’t leave enough time to visit or re-visit quality films from before September or so. If I have trouble seeing all the supposedly great movies released in a given year, what does that say about the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, all of whom are undoubtedly much busier than me?

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We all have short memories, and studios know this. That’s why it’s smart for studios to release their best films – the ones most likely to win awards – as close to the nomination process as possible. So, logic would dictate the necessary action: Expand the Academy Award nomination window, and you’ll expand the amount of desirable release dates available to studios for their best output.

Nominations would be gathered four times a year – in March, June, September, and December – via a secure online system. Nominations could be submitted any time during a given month, which would allow studios to campaign even more fervently throughout the year. For example, if a studio had a movie they were proud of in February, they wouldn’t have to sit on it (or its profits) until November. Instead, they could release it in time for March voting, making a strong publicity push for a film that’s fresh on everyone’s minds.

Yes, it would take a while for a year-round nominations to make a difference, but over the course of five or so years, it would completely shift the way studios release their movies. Not only that, but it would open the door for more movies to be heralded, more movies to be given Oscar attention, and would give more casual audience members the chance to see the great movies we film enthusiasts have to work so hard to seek out every year. If there are more films throughout the year with positive “Oscar” buzz, it would essentially create a mini-Oscar race every three months, driving up box office receipts and hopefully encouraging studios to make more awards-quality films. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that quarterly Oscar nominations could very well save cinema!

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As is apparent by the release of films like THE HUNGER GAMES in March or GRAVITY in October, studios are willing to drop blockbusters outside of the traditionally lucrative Summer movie season. It’s time for them to spread their prestige pictures around the same way, and the best way to encourage this is for the Oscars to create a quarterly nomination process.

Please, members of the Academy: December needs your help.

 

Benjamin Stark is a filmmaker based in Huntsville, Alabama and writes the Speculatin’ a Hypothesis column right here at FilmNerds.com. You can check out his movies at his website, benstarkfilm.com and follow him on Twitter (@WonderMillFilms).