What the Super Bowl and the Oscars Should Steal From Each Other

NFL 2016 - Panthers Arrive in San Jose for Super Bowl 50
Let Cam Newton walk a red carpet, please! Photo: David T. Foster Iii/TNS/Corbis

February is a month that’s long been known for coldness, shortness, and, every four years, hyperbolically overcovered political primaries in tiny midwestern states. But of late, February has emerged as the premier month for watching event television in your pajamas on Sunday night. This year, thanks to the confluence of movie-awards season and the football playoffs, we get to enjoy both the Super Bowl (February 7), which is the Oscars of football, and the Oscars (February 28), which is the Super Bowl of movies. These events weren’t always so close to each other: For much of their history, the Academy Awards aired in April, before moving to March, and then settling reliably in late February (they won’t air in March again until 2018); conversely, the Super Bowl always aired in January — once as early as January 9 — until it migrated to February in 2002. For viewers, though, this event-TV pileup in February makes some sense: These broadcasts traditionally have much in common, from excruciating run-times to questionable snack-food options to potentially devastating outcomes. But given their proximity this year, shouldn’t the Oscars be more like the Super Bowl, and vice versa? Here are four elements that one trophy-giving-outing celebration might want to steal from the other:

Institute a Super Bowl Red Carpet
Though the big game itself won’t start until 6:30 p.m. this year, CBS is starting its Super Bowl programming at 11:30 in the morning — a supersize chunk of pregame hyperbole that puts the measly hour of preshow Oscar coverage to shame. (Though, to be fair, last year E! pre-Oscar coverage started at a Super Bowlish 1:30 p.m.) Given that there will be seven hours of pregame, and given that football players now sometimes dress like this, why not devote at least some of that time to watching the players stream off their respective buses in their civvies and head into the stadium? This would be the perfect year to institute a Super Bowl red carpet: Cam Newton, one of the best-dressed men in sports, is a star attraction, yet we’re actively denying him a chance to peacock up a red carpet on the way to the biggest night of his life. I mean, Newton wore these pants just to get on the bus taking him to the Super Bowl! Imagine what he’d wear on the night of the big game! We already know that the man looks good on a red carpet. This man, maybe not so much, but still — a Super Bowl red carpet is a no-brainer. (And sure, the ESPYs already do a red carpet, but then again, to see it you have to watch the Espys, and no one’s going to ask you to do that.)

Give the Acting Nominees in Each Category One Replay Challenge
As every football fan knows, the inclusion of instant-replay challenges, which allow every catch and fumble and maybe-possibly-out-of-bounds toe-touch to be endlessly replayed, dissected, and scrutinized, has added immensely to the excitement and momentum of the game. Now imagine this: In each Oscar acting category, each nominee is given a red flag (well, a weird, weighted red-hankie thing) and granted the chance to throw the flag and challenge another nominee’s victory. Once the red flag is thrown, the Academy would be compelled to show replay clips of the nominee’s performance alongside one of the winner, over and over, in ever-increasing slo-mo. At that point, the previous year’s acting-award recipients — in this case, 2015 Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette, and J.K. Simmons — would huddle together and determine whether the award should be overturned and given instead to the nominee who threw the flag. This is obviously awesome. And here’s the catch: Only one replay is allowed per category, so whoever throws the flag first gets the challenge — but if you don’t win your challenge, the Oscar goes to the announced winner, and you are prohibited from Oscar consideration for the next five years. As a result, instead of the same boring reaction shots of four losers gamely struggling to look gracious, we’d have four losers all clutching their flags, wondering whether or not they should throw them and be the one to make the challenge. In other words, instead of this, we’d get this!

Flip-Flop the Approach to Musical Numbers
Both the Super Bowl and the Oscars traditionally feature bloated, vaguely embarrassing musical interludes — the primary difference being that the Super Bowl jams all its vague embarrassment into one gargantuan halftime extravaganza, while the Oscars like to sprinkle their momentum-deadening musical showstoppers throughout the night. These seem like precisely the wrong ways to do it, given that the Super Bowl tends to get more exciting as it goes along, while the Oscars get way more tedious and boring. So let’s reverse these approaches: The Oscars should adopt a Super Bowl–style halftime extravaganza, while the Super Bowl should scatter its musical interludes throughout the action. Sure, a weirdly incongruent Bruno Mars Super Bowl halftime concert serves as an important national toilet-break/nacho-replenishment pause (as well as, you know, letting the teams strategize), but wouldn’t you rather have Bruno — or the Black-Eyed Peas, or Katy Perry, or Madonna featuring LMFAO — come out and sing a single number between important plays? The Broncos just scored a touchdown? Let’s hear from the Who with Taio Cruz! Carolina’s forced to punt? How about some musical accompaniment for that kick — from Coldplay! If nothing else, why not give Beyoncé a chance to entertain us while the officials are reviewing yet another replay challenge.

As for the Oscars, the drudgery of a typical telecast could really use a long, uninterrupted intermission right in the middle — if only so viewers at home can catch up on the best tweets of the night. And, really, is there anything more crushing, as we round into the existential endlessness of hour four, than seeing the last of the Original Song nominees stagger out to croon their nominated song? Or, worse yet, to realize you’re about to be subjected to a needless, final-hour musical “tribute”? Rather than that, just blow it out for half an hour right in the middle of the show — with the Boss! Then get back to the regularly scheduled trophy dissemination, once we at home have had our chance for a pee break/yoga stretch/nap.

Oscar Post-Game Interviews
One of the very best things about football games is the jarring post-game juxtaposition of locker rooms — the giddy, confetti-strewn extended celebration among the winners, and the tense, funereal, dour inquisition imposed upon the losers. So why are we robbed of these kinds of post-game interviews with winners and losers at the Oscars? Sure, Oscar winners run a brief press gauntlet with their trophy, which occasionally wields amusing results, but why is the real, full-throated celebration kept away from the cameras? Wouldn’t you like to see, say, the cast of Birdman dousing Alejandro Iñárritu in Gatorade? And who couldn’t enjoy this kind of tense, extended grilling of every single person who was passed over? Shouldn’t we give, say, Benedict Cumberbatch a chance to give a ranting post-loss interview like this one? Or have a chance to witness a post-awards tirade like this from Richard Linklater? “Birdman was what we thought it was! It was what we thought it was! And we let it off the hook!”

What the Super Bowl Should Steal From the Oscars