Although it's getting harder and harder to pinpoint an exact date as to when Oscar season officially begins, tonight's People's Choice Awards certainly signals that the awards season has begun in earnest. Because from now until the Oscars are broadcast on Sunday, February 22, viewers will be barraged with no less than six televised award shows celebrating the best film work from 2008 (the others being tomorrow's Critic's Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards). And just like Hollywood itself, there is a well-defined pecking order as to which of these social engagements earn a coveted spot on A- and B-listers' already crowded calendars. Suffice it to say, the People's Choice Awards has lost a lot of its draw over the last few years and today draws about as much star power as a potluck at Jason Biggs's house. But it wasn't always that way!
It's becoming increasingly difficult to remember a time when the People's Choice Awards actually mattered, but as Tom O'Neil reports in an excellent piece on the Los Angeles Times Gold Derby blog, there have been six instances in the history of the awards where the Favorite Movie prize has lined up with the Best Picture Oscar. So where did it all go awry? Well, back in 2005, the PCA organization decided to make the switch from conducting costly Gallup polls to putting the entire voting process online. In typical Internet fashion, this cost-savings initiative meant that the awards went from being a fairly accurate meter of how "the people" (in the broadest possible sense) felt to something that more closely reflects how Internet wonks (who tend to skew young and male) feel. Funny how democracy works sometimes, isn't it?
Anyway, ever since this change went into effect, the show has been seeing fewer and fewer big stars show up for the ceremony. Even this year's much ballyhooed appearance from Brad Pitt has been revealed by E!'s Marc Malkin to be nothing more than a taped segment. Additionally, the categories have grown increasingly muddy, as even the most seasoned critics would have a difficult time delineating the differences in categories like Favorite Male Movie Star, Favorite Male Action Star, Favorite Funny Movie Star, and Favorite Leading Man (if, in fact, these kinds of descriptions even exist anymore). However, if you are a hard-core People's Choice Awards junkie that's looking for some recommendations on how to fill out your office pool, Vulture recommends that you just vote Will Smith across the board. That guy wins everything.
The decline and fall of the People's Choice Awards [Gold Derby/LAT]