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The Future of the Academy to be Discussed … at the Academy

The New York Times revealed that Dawn Hudson is asking Academy members for a group discussion on what they think the future of the Academy might be.

Here are Awards Daily’s quick and dirty suggestions for topics members might bring up (and quickly get shot down by the status quo, but here’s to trying).

1. Create a new category for effects-driven film. The same way they have a category for animated feature, an effects-driven film category would have been a fun way to include films like The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises from last year, for starters. They can’t be bothered to actually nominate these films (imagine how many Academy members would choose any of these as their number 1 pick? Maybe Skyfall). Sure, it’s a sticky area and there might be crossover, as there is with animated and foreign on occasion. The effects industry controls the majority of films released for audiences now. The Academy honors them in one category: Best Visual Effects. That’s not nearly enough. With advances in motion capture and 3-D coming up, they must embrace the future.

2. Do not have it both ways with having members choose five Best Picture nominees only to have them include the fringe dwellers when a film gets more number one votes. Keep the list to ten – as they did in 2009 and 2010, which resulted in brilliant inclusion of films that never would have gotten in otherwise – like, District 9, like The Kids Are All Right — because a voter is going to include a better variety when given ten slots. Having it both ways wreaks unnecessary havoc. 1) it doesn’t include movies that wouldn’t have been included otherwise. 2) it doesn’t honor films that the general public likes more.

3. Try harder to wrestle free from the dominance of the bigger guilds. Why have an Academy at all if all they do is put a period on the end of an already written sentence? Just because the DGA and PGA tells you to vote for something doesn’t mean you always have to vote for it. Will the Academy ever be original again? Will they always fall in line with the guilds? Hard to say but in the years that I’ve been doing this I’ve watched their power and their influence slip dramatically. The Golden Globes are gaining in prominence as the Academy dims in the wake of the precursors that decide the race. Of course, we bloggers and pundits aid in that – we herd them into the pen and say “pick that one.” Can it change? Doubtful.

4. Cut back on the special screenings and the q&as. All that does is turn the race into a political election where the most charming and entertaining people win all of the awards. Shouldn’t it just be about the films themselves and not about the personalities? Perhaps it has never been about the films or the performances themselves; even Meryl Streep had to campaign hard core to win for The Iron Lady. But can this be stopped? Does anyone want it stop?

5. Make sure every voting member has seen all of the nominated films before they are allowed to vote. They do it with foreign language, documentary and the shorts, why not Best Picture? You know, just a thought.

At any rate, the best thing the Academy does isn’t the Oscars, I don’t think, but their devotion to film preservation. Therein lies their greatest gift to cinema and to the public.