Hoping to steal back some thunder from other awards shows, and cut short the long, excruciating slog that Oscar season has become in recent years, the Academy has reportedly long been considering moving the 2012 Oscars from their usual March or February to January (which would likely put them before the SAG, BAFTA, and Golden Globe awards). To which we say, great! But why couldn’t they have made the move this year? As we count down the remaining weeks to what’s shaping up to be history’s most boring Academy Awards ceremony ever, we made a list of the five ways the 2011 Oscar season would have been better if the Oscars had happened last month.
This year, as in recent years, the precursor awards and the scrutinizing of demonic Oscar bloggers have taken most of the guesswork out of picking winners. Sure, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, Tom Hooper, and The King’s Speech would likely have won the top six awards if the Oscars had taken place in January (just as they presumably will when the Oscars actually happen on February 27) — but at least a couple of those would still have been surprises. Three weeks ago, Speech hadn’t yet been fêted by the PGA, the DGA, and SAG, and most pundits were predicting The Social Network would win Best Picture. Wouldn’t it have been fun to see a brief look of shock on Harvey Weinstein’s face, after Speech’s win was announced and before he started gloating?
To be clear, we still think Anne Hathaway and James Franco will be terrific emcees on February 27. But could they have been even better if the Oscars had happened sooner? Think about it — back in early January, Hathaway wasn’t yet distracted by her upcoming role as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, and Franco wasn’t studying for midterms. Also, they wouldn’t have been under any pressure to outdo awesome Globes host Ricky Gervais.
Nolan Might’ve Been Nominated
If the 2011 Oscars had happened in January, this year’s most controversial snub — Christopher Nolan’s for Best Director — might not have happened. A month ago, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit was still being ignored by award-givers, either because they hadn’t yet seen it or they hadn’t fully considered how crazy it was for a Western to crack $100 million in 2011. If the Oscar nominations had come earlier, though, voters might have given the Coens’ Best Director nod to Nolan, like the Directors Guild did, and there would be a lot fewer complaining fanboys. (Also, Blue Valentine’s Ryan Gosling might have sneaked past Grit’s Jeff Bridges and into the Best Actor category, which we’d have been cool with.)
It Would Make Other Awards Shows Less Important, But More Fun
Obviously the Golden Globes and SAG Awards would have lost their predictive importance if they’d come after the Oscars this year, but they’d also have been more casual and fun. With the real awards having already been distributed, nominees and presenters could’ve loosened up, enjoyed the open bar, heckled Ricky Gervais right back, and made speeches like this or this, like they were at the National Board of Review awards, a ceremony which, to its great advantage, nobody gives a crap about.
Slightly related to that last point: This year, we’ve been blessed with the nominations of three of Hollywood’s loosest cannons — Christian Bale, David Fincher, and David O. Russell — but shockingly, none of them have yet smacked or screamed at anybody. If we’d gotten the Oscars out of the way three weeks ago, who knows what kinds of crazy things might’ve happened at subsequent awards shows. Fincher would probably be turning red carpets into Fight Club meetings. And can you imagine how done professionally Bale would’ve been with the conductor who tried to play him off mid-speech at the Globes?