If it ain’t broke…

Posted by · 1:39 pm · February 11th, 2009

A change is as good as a feast. I’m the last person to deny that. And for the most part, I’ve been down with the changes to this year’s Oscarcast promised by producers Bill Condon and Laurence Mark.

I’m on the record as saying I think Hugh Jackman is an inspired gamble as a choice of host. And while I’m concerned that Queen Latifah singing along to the “In Memoriam” montage has the makings of an all-out kitschfest, I’m nonetheless interested to see how it plays out.

But there’s one change, one that a number of people still don’t seem to be aware of, that I’m not happy with at all. And that’s dispensing with the tradition (of the past couple of decades) of having last year’s winners present this year’s acting awards. As Susan Wloszczyna wrote in her interview with the pair a few weeks back:

Instead of lining up last year’s winners and stars with upcoming movies to tout, Condon and Mark are reaching out to those names associated with a 2008 movie. And there will be a few blasts from Hollywood’s past, too.

I’m all for changing aspects of the show that have become creaky and/or attracted widespread criticism. But I’ve never heard anyone complain about this particular custom. As far as I’m concerned, having last year’s winners present is a nice formality that plays into a sense of Oscar history, and adds an extra sense of privilege to winning in the first place. I enjoy seeing how last year’s nervous ingenue (Marion Cotillard, say) has changed in manner or stature one year on, or seeing a quirky industry outsider like Tilda Swinton get another rare moment in the sun.

I sincerely hope that the change hasn’t been introduced this year because last year’s winners weren’t the most glittery, Hollywoody bunch of stars. If so, that doesn’t send out the most welcoming of messages. And it seems particularly insane to dispense with the change in a year where there’s rather a lot of invested media interest (and perhaps a classic Oscar moment) in one potential pairing in particular — Javier Bardem and on- and off-screen love Penelope Cruz.

So why mess with that? Are Condon and Mark needlessly tinkering here? Or am I being too inflexible?

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 2-11-2009 at 1:41 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t yet know if they’re actually dispensing with that tradition or not. It’s all still very fuzzy what exactly is in store regarding award presentations.

    Then again, I don’t personally think there is anything sacred about this particular tradition.

  • 2 2-11-2009 at 1:46 pm

    Rae Kasey said...

    I agree with Guy.
    That’s personally one of my favorite parts of the show. Plus, I know exactly what’s coming and get really excited when I see one of the previous year’s acting winners strolling onto the stage.

    I’d be very sad to see that tradition go.

  • 3 2-11-2009 at 1:50 pm

    Patryk said...

    I agree with Guy. This sounds an awful lot like the 1988 awards. Remember the nightmare intro with Snow White? And Cher presented Best Picture instead of Best Actor? I am hoping for the best, but it sounds pretty tacky to me so far.

  • 4 2-11-2009 at 1:57 pm

    Patrick F said...

    Not cool at all. I don’t know that Daniel Day Lewis would necessarily show up, but, I was looking forward to Javier Bardem. I think this sets a dangerous precedent that is going to encourage the Academy to ignore performers who aren’t tabloid celebrities. There really isn’t a point to do this, now that the Academy is seeming to show complete apathy for public taste. If you really want people to tune in, why not nominate films that people actually saw? I think that would be more effective in ratings boosts than cameos by the cast of Grey’s Anatomy.

  • 5 2-11-2009 at 2:16 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    i like that tradition too. i was hoping they’d keep it. god knows its the only shot i have at seeing DDL this year (until 9 of course)

  • 6 2-11-2009 at 2:52 pm

    The Z said...

    I always liked the previous year’s winners presenting. It seems kind of like a changing of the guard, passing of the torch. Hopefully, with all the changes the producers are throwing at us, this is one that remains as is.

    Perhaps, though, this is just a ploy – like not releasing the presenters before the broadcast – to make the audience watch to see if these guys are off their rockers.

  • 7 2-11-2009 at 4:00 pm

    Ryan Hoffman said...

    You are 100% right on this. I rather see Daniel Day Lewis presenting Best Actress instead of….anyone else on the planet.

  • 8 2-11-2009 at 4:03 pm

    Damian said...

    I want them to keep the tradition. It’s pretty.

  • 9 2-11-2009 at 4:47 pm

    Ryan said...

    Maybe they’ll change everyone else except for Javier Bardem. He was, after all, in one of the 2008 movies.

    Though there’s also something a tad awkward about a fellow actor from the same movie giving another actor the award.

  • 10 2-11-2009 at 5:30 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    So was Tilda Swinton, Ryan. It’d hardly be fair to make an exception in only the one case.

    I don’t really get the “2008 movies” thing, though. It’s not like we’ve forgotten people who weren’t in a major film this year. Oh well, we’ll see how it pans out.

  • 11 2-11-2009 at 6:51 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    Guy is right. It’s a charming tradition, seeing last year’s winners hand Oscars to the new guard. Guy describes its charms very succinctly in ways I could not have articulate clearer myself.

  • 12 2-11-2009 at 6:52 pm

    Dean Treadway said...

    Guy is right. It’s a charming tradition, seeing last year’s winners hand Oscars to the new guard. Guy describes its charms very succinctly in ways I could not have articulated clearer myself.

  • 13 2-11-2009 at 7:14 pm

    Glenn said...

    They should keep the winners presenting winners thing and just, oh I dunno, get rid of Cameron Diaz who seems to always be presenting the animated film category or the Kate Hudsons or the Beyonces.

  • 14 2-12-2009 at 12:28 am

    PJ said...

    I hope they don’t get rid of it. I recall someone commenting here or somewhere else that getting rid of it would be akin to having someone other than the father give the bride away. And last year’s winners were lovely, I was personally looking forward to Tilda Swinton presenting Best Supporting Actor.

  • 15 2-12-2009 at 1:37 pm

    Allen said...

    I’m against the change as well. However, if Mickey Rourke wins this year, I’ll be happy to endorse the change next year.

  • 16 2-12-2009 at 8:57 pm

    Aaron said...

    Wow, this really makes me sad. I was really looking forward to the very sweet Marion Cotillard presenting best actor.

    I’m hoping this isn’t true, although it probably is (I had to read their interview).