Margaret Sullivan, the terrific columnist now at The Guardian, wrote a piece earlier this week explaining why, unlike more and more Americans, she’s going to watch The Oscars on Sunday night:
Separated by our demographics, tastes and backgrounds, we don’t share the same references very often these days. We seem to speak different languages. But the gap can be bridged if you’ve got three hours on a Sunday night.
While true, none of that matters to me, nor do the telecast’s shrinking ratings. During my decades as a broadcaster, I had to watch such extravaganzas — Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, etc. — so I’d know enough to talk about them the next day on my radio show. But since my retirement five years ago, I no longer feel the need, which is why I wasn’t tuned in to find out which music act I’d never heard of won a Grammy Award last month.
The Oscars are different for me because I’m still a big movie fan — which is not the same as saying I see the most popular films. I just checked, and I only saw five of the twenty movies at the top of the BoxOfficeMojo list of the highest-grossing movies of 2022, yet I saw six of the ten titles nominated for Best Picture.
When I post a positive movie review on this site and then it doesn’t draw a big audience, I’m saddened — not for the people who made it, but those who missed the opportunity to see something I recommended. But I don’t need The Oscars to be a community watch party to enjoy the show. Unlike Sullivan, I don’t need others to share the same references. Whether a lot of people watch The Oscars is irrelevant to me, as are their tweets about it.
Oh, there’s always something to complain about, like my annual whining about having a live performer accompany the In Memoriam montage. This Sunday that will be Lenny Kravitz, who I’m sure director Glenn Weiss will show us too many shots of — and not enough of the dead people it’s supposed to honor. The segment was handled so much better at the recent SAG Awards, where the visuals were accompanied by a recording of “Out Here On My Own,” sung by Irene Cara, one of the stars of “Fame,” who was among the recently deceased.
On the other hand, I expect Jimmy Kimmel to do a good job as host as long as he doesn’t steal the spotlight from the movies and statuettes — as he did a few years ago when he brought people into the Dolby theater from a nearby cinema for no good reason except to allow them to gawk at Hollywood stars up close. I’d also bet that virtually no one will know the nominated songs that will take up valuable airtime. However, I’m glad the producers have reversed last year’s egregious error of not airing some of the crafts awards, so we’ll get to see the relatively unknown creative folks get a few minutes of attention for the hard work they put in on the finished products being celebrated.
And then there’s the infamous Chris Rock/Will Smith incident at last year’s Oscars. In a live Netflix special timed to air last Saturday — just a week before The Oscars — Rock addressed the matter better than anyone else could. Yet that probably won’t stop Kimmel (and others?) from referring to it on Sunday night. However, I’d bet that the number of jokes on that subject will be less than those about the hot dog fingers in likely Best Picture winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”