You know, “12 Years a Slave” was Best Picture last year. And 2014 was also a high water mark for the Oscars ratings. The show posted big numbers — even though 2014 was considered a big year for “black” movies. This year, an all white year, the show lost over 7 million viewers. Interesting, no? Were all the lost viewers black? Probably not. But there was more interest in “12 Years a Slave” than in “Birdman” or “Boyhood.” Imagine if “Selma,” the actual best movie of the year, had been accorded respect and honors?
The ratings drop had a lot to do with the fact that seven of the eight Best Picture nominees were largely unknown to the public. Some of them were unknown to Oscar voters. “American Sniper” got no love despite its $300 million box office. The show ignored that movie. How about if Chris Kyle’s widow had come on stage the way the real Philomena had done in 2014? How about if Clint Eastwood had presented an award? It’s all in hindsight now.
Another thing: while Lady Gaga soared during her “Sound of Music” segment, Jennifer Hudson struggled with a lame song from the canceled TV show “Smash.” There are nine zillion recognizable songs in the world. Hudson is a magnificent singer. But why punish her with bad material? Maybe it’s because Oscar producers Zadan and Meron also produced “Smash.” Unfortunately, this has been their M.O. since they started producing the Oscars. Remember their tribute to “Chicago”?
The writing also hurt the show. The Oscars used to be run by snarky insiders with a real sharp wit. They called on talented, hip people to craft the show. This show sounded like it was written by TV hacks who have nothing to do with the movie business. It really showed. Why isn’t Jimmy Kimmel hosting the show and bringing his people, if the show must stick with ABC staff? The Kimmel folks would do a fine job. And Kimmel, at this point, would be a welcome relief. He at least might get some of those 7 million people back.