The Academy Falters, the Critics Fail, and the People Rule!

Stephen Simon by Stephen Simon | February 28th, 2008 | 3 Comments
topic: Inspirational Media

As many of you know, I have blogged recently about the pathetic state of mainstream movies and film critics, most particularly the ugly, violent films that were praised by critics and also nominated for the 2007 Academy Awards.

Well, the Oscars were broadcast on February 24 and, lo and behold, the show received the lowest rating in the history of the Academy Awards!


People were so turned off by and uninterested in the dark, violent films that were nominated that the broadcast was viewed by a million fewer people than even the previously lowest rated show in 2003. No one cared about “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood,” and all the other dark, nihilistic films that were nominated. (The adorable “Juno” being the only exception.)

The highest rated Oscar show ever was in 1998 when “Titanic,” a big, powerful, epic love story, dominated the nominations. Almost 56 million people viewed that broadcast, compared to a paltry 31 million people this year. That’s 25 million-person difference between the highest rated show ever to the lowest rated show ever.

Give us classic love stories and human dramas that uplift us, and we care. Give us doom and gloom, and we won’t watch. And that’s very, very good news. The studios can no longer deny how many people they have driven away with their drivel.

Maybe 2008 will be better, but movies take a long time in the pipeline; so maybe we won’t see much of a change in programming until 2009, if even then. But the truth is out there now. Hollywood, keep making your dark, ugly, violent films and we will all vote with our feet and remote controls, stay away, and turn you off.


  1. How can you declare that because of a few violent movies, that’s why people didn’t watch the Oscars in high numbers?

    Have you forgotten that there was a drawn-out writers’ strike that was resolved only days before the Oscars took place? Isn’t it possible people didn’t watch because of the fact that they anticipated it was going to be sub-par?

    From Wikipedia:

    Writers strike effects

    The strike created uncertainty regarding the 2008 Awards. Although the strike was lifted before the date of the Awards, this occured less than two weeks before and therefore long-term planning was difficult.

    On December 18, 2007, the striking Writers Guild of America denied a waiver requested by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in connection with film clips and excerpts from previous award ceremonies to be shown at the 2008 awards. The material could have still been used though, as the denial only affected the conditions under which the clips are shown.

    In anticipation that the strike would continue through Oscar Night, the Academy developed a Plan B show that would not have included actors accepting their awards. It would have included the musical numbers, but would have relied heavily on historic film clips, emphasizing the 80th anniversary of the awards.[26] Nevertheless, the strike was lifted on February 12, as a result of a deal reached by the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers introduced three days earlier. Therefore, the fear of picketing writers and boycotting actors (as a result of solidarity by the Screen Actors Guild) was eliminated, and the ceremony proceeded as normal.

    Many analysts still suspect, however, that the strike affected the amount of time for writing preparation and promotion for the ceremony itself.

    One Oscar-related casualty from the strike aside from the ceremony were the cancellation of several entertainment parties in support of the strike including one held by Vanity Fair and another by Entertainment Weekly.

    I also fail to understand how you can declare that “no one cared about” No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood, films that grossed $64,291,179 and $35,112,557, respectively.

    I don’t think these films would have been successful were it not for public demand and interest in them. And I think it’s quite a stretch to blame these films for a poor Oscars performance, while ignoring all of the other factors that caused the public to lose interest long before the ceremony took place.

    Joe Rogel | February 29th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. Your correlation is too facile for me. Dark movies like Return of the King and Schindlers List brought in high Oscar audiences and uplifting movies like Shakespeare in Love and Chicago had lousy Oscar draws. A much more thoughtful link is to revenue. Popular movies create Oscar buzz, and people watch. No Country and Blood had small advertising budgets, less than $10m apiece. Hence a lack of buzz, and low Oscar viewership.

    Another really easy search you could have done, but chose not to, is to simply look at IMDB ratings, a real voice of the people. 8.6 for No Country, 8.7 for Blood, putting them both in the Top 40 _all-time_. So it’s a groundswell judging these films to be classics, rather than a big box effect.

    In time, No Country will be considered a suspense classic in the Hitchcock mould, and Blood will be seen as a reflection on early American capitalism whose patterns remain alive and strong today. Neither will be considered an especially violent movie, because neither is.

    Which begs the question: Have you even watched them?

    Christopher Galtenberg | February 29th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. No Country For Old Men was an excellent film. Was it violent? Yes. Was it dark? Yes. Since when are people not interested in gripping, violent and dark tales? You can at least go back as far as the Old Testament to find dark, heavy themes of human suffering, depravity and violence.
    In 1998, the industry was in a completely different mode. The internet, video games and the other competing media were not as developed as they are today. Generally, TV all together was a more popular medium. Also, while Titanic was a block buster, that bench has been surpassed several times. To add, Titanic, for all its pomp, was over rated in my opinion, simply because the makers of the film chose to create fictional characters for their epic as opposed to sourcing out a real story from the countless people on board. That I find more disheartening that real people’s stories aren’t good enough. At least with No Country For Old Men, it wasn’t a (yuck) ‘docudrama’!
    I think NCFOM was one of the best movies I’d seen in a very long while even before it won the best pic. As far as audiences are concerned, they’re just bored of Hollywood pandering to itself at the yearly Awards show, but the film industry overall is doing just fine.

    tameem | March 3rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink

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