Films being released these days, voters have a tough enough time trying to limit their selections to 5 or 10 films. As a result, they may either restrict themselves to the films they have experience with, or be influenced by outside voices. Furthermore, its difficult to rely on voters who have not seen every movie of the year to vote on the best movie/performance of the year. This all results in some films/nominees getting unfairly left out. For these reasons I think it might be important to consider an additional round of voting. Use the first round of voting to put together a list of eligible films, and then ask voters to select the nominees from that list of eligible films. The first vote helps to narrow down the field, and the second allows voters to focus on a specific set of films. Furthermore, allowing voters from outside of a particular field to provide input on possible eligible films would also be a good idea. This brings in an outside perspective without diminishing the role of those voters within the field, who will ultimately decide on the nominees. It also prevents studios, journalists, media, and industry insiders from having as much of an influence on the vote.
The last change the Oscars has to consider would be the Awards ceremony itself. Declining audiences have resulted in some desperate moves over the years to try and remain relevant. These changes include trying to appeal more to nostalgia and popular cinema. Recent ceremonies have had homages to classic films, and songs or stunts that connect with mainstream films. This year the Oscars even attempted a Twitter poll to choose the year’s most popular film. I feel like all of these attempts have only distracted from the core problem with the ceremony; trying to appeal more to those people who are at the ceremony than those who are watching at home. From the types of jokes, to the people who present, to the food and extremely expensive gift bags – there is very little incentive to watch for people who don’t have a strong devotion to film. It just feels very pretentious and self-serving. It feels like a pat on the back for people who are living out their dreams and making millions of dollars doing so.
The Oscars need to give us something to look up to. The highlights of the Oscars tend to be the speeches given by the winners. They add context and meaning to the films they are working on, and this can provide a connection to the audience. But the Oscar producers have been trying to cut back on this. They try to limit the amount of time someone has to make a speech. This is understandable if someone is standing on the stage listing out names of people we’ve never heard of. But when the speech comes from the heart and has something profound to say, the audience perks up and listens.