You know it’s not a great night for Oscar when the suspense is about protests rather than winners.
With a field of 10 best picture nominees that were mostly invisible in theatres, viewers aren’t likely to be on the edge of their chairs as the sealed envelope is opened. Hollywood will really be watching for protests about those 8 devalued categories. The buzz is that some winners may hold their statuettes upside down and explain why and some attendees may wear their guild badges inverted.
Whatever happens, the fact that it’s making news isn’t good. The Oscars are meant to celebrate great filmmaking, but this year the whole process dragged on from pandemic pressures. The best picture contenders resonated with the Academy’s new far-flung membership, but mostly not with audiences.
What will matter — and what accounts for the Academy shooting itself in the foot with those changes — will be the ratings. If the show runs over 3 hours or doesn’t show growth vs. 2021’s mid-pandemic audience of 10.4M viewers, ABC could decide Oscar telecasts no longer make financial sense. It’s no secret Madison Avenue won’t keep paying premium prices without better ratings.