Should these actors return their Oscars?
Until now, the world has pretty much been divided into two camps – those who think the Oscars telecast is too long, and those who think the Oscars telecast gives out too many technical awards.
Perhaps my suggestion today will bring us together and solve the mystery that is Oscar. And the mystery is that the most exciting and fascinating profession on the planet can't put together a decent TV awards show.
After three decades of attending the Oscars, I have concluded that what is lacking in the show, ironically, is drama.
Oscar supporters will point to the announcement of the individual winners as real drama, with one actor, director or sound mixer granted the golden ticket for life, and the other nominees relegated to the loser's bin, but that's not how I see it.
They're all winners to some degree, and I know that you're thinking that I can't possibly be evoking the "It's an honor just to be nominated" cliché, but it's true.
First, people like me in the media will forever refer to those "losers" as Oscar-nominated so-and-so in news stories and columns. Trust me, if you and that person go down in the same plane crash, the story will begin: "Oscar-nominated actor so-and-so and 140 nobodies perished when their plane..." It's been that way since the Titanic sunk in 1912, and The New York Times headline declared that John Jacob Astor and 1,500 others died in that tragic sinking. The most famous person in a tragedy always gets top billing, and Oscar-nominated people are more famous than you. That's show biz.
Second, they got invited to the Governor's Ball, and you didn't.
Finally, their asking price went up with the nomination. The win won't add many zeroes to future contracts. All an Oscar means is that they can put you in a movie with a better-paid movie star, and audiences will think that the movie is a better movie than the higher-paid star usually makes.
OK, are you with me so far? If you buy into the notion that they're all winners, then it follows that there is no real drama in handing out the awards. It's just a bunch of rich, good-looking people patting each other on the back with nothing at stake.
And that brings me to my suggestion that it's time to put some real drama in the Oscars, and it can be done by creating a "Three Strikes" program like they do in criminal justice. Instead of going to jail for life, however, actors and actresses will have to suffer a fate even worse than prison – they will have to give their Oscars back.
Allow me to explain the "Three Strikes and You're Oscar-less" program.
How many times have you been disappointed by an Oscar winner's latest movie? You didn't have to respond – it was a rhetorical question. With few exceptions, it's almost all the time.
Here is an exception – Meryl Streep. I haven't weighed in on the widespread idea that Viola Davis of "The Help" got robbed in the best actress category by Streep's remarkable turn as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."
This lingering notion is fostered by the fact that "The Help" has taken in almost 10 times as much money at the box office than "The Iron Lady," so more people have seen Davis' performance and have made the understandable leap in assuming it was better than the performance they didn't see.
I loved Davis' performance, but I have no problem declaring that Streep was more deserving.
Streep last won an Oscar for "Sophie's Choice," but she has continued to deliver great performances since then, including "Out of Africa," "Julie & Julia" and, of course, "The Devil Wears Prada."
The same cannot be said of so many other actors, and we do not want to mention any by names, although one of them might rhyme with Picolus Gage.
Under the rules, a blue-ribbon panel of movie fans (academy members might not be as objective) would decide if performances that follow the Oscar win live up to promise inherent in that win. The performance need not be spectacular, but it must not appear as if the actor did it only for the money.
If the performance was horribly disappointing on every level, that actor would receive a strike. Three strikes and they would have to return their Oscar.
I got this idea from the Heisman Trophy, which also is a lifetime designation (don't get on a plane with a Heisman Trophy winner), but now it apparently can be returned.
With so much at stake, the Oscars telecast will be fraught with drama, and will assure us that the next time we pay $10 or more for a ticket to our favorite actor's latest film, we know we will get his best effort.
Here are some actors and actresses who may have reason to worry.
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