In Contention

By Josh Spiegel

February 9, 2010

Football coaches get younger every year. First, there was Lane Kiffin and now this.

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With just under one month left in this year's Oscar season, all that's left is the waiting, folks. There are a few more awards ceremonies to take place, such as the British Academy of Film and Television, or BAFTAs, but all we're eager to know now is what results will be revealed on Sunday, March 7th. Now, granted, a lot of the bigger awards probably aren't going to be filled with surprises (I'm willing to change this, but for now, the winners are going to be Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz, Mo'Nique, Kathryn Bigelow for directing, Avatar for Best Picture, Up in the Air for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Hurt Locker for Best Original Screenplay). So, what is there to talk about? Today, how about the ceremony itself?

Yes, this year's Oscar ceremony is now becoming as much of a story as are the nominees, thanks to the high-profile producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, and the two hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. I've spoken in the past about the ratings for past Oscar ceremonies, and how hoping for high-profile movies to be nominated won't be a guarantee for great ratings. I still stand by that belief (that, specifically, nominating popular movies solely for their popularity is a stupid and wrongheaded idea), but it is a lot more obvious now than it was way back in early December that ABC executives are probably still doing happy dances around their offices nearly a week after the nominations were announced.

And why shouldn't they? If ABC was hoping for big movies to get nominated, they have to be happy. Five of the ten nominees - Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, Inglourious Basterds, and Up - have all already grossed over $100 million. Three - Avatar, The Blind Side, and Up—grossed over $200 million. And, of course, one of them is Avatar, also known as the highest-grossing movie ever made across the world. Avatar is an ABC executive's dream come true. Does the wild and wide-ranging success that Avatar has had mean that more people will watch this year? Perhaps; a lot of people will be surprised if this year's show doesn't garner far greater ratings than in years past. Still, with crowd-pleasers like The Blind Side and Up in the mix, as well (and seeing as both movies will likely pick up non-Best Picture awards), people may just watch, Avatar or not.




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Today, though, what boils my blood is not the nominees (though I'm not particularly thrilled about The Blind Side being nominated, a handful of my favorite films of 2009 were among the top ten, so I'm not complaining). No, it's those pesky producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman. As part of their continuous Oscar coverage, Entertainment Weekly did a profile of the upcoming show, and how hard it is to actually make an Oscars ceremony a reality. Last year, notably, the acting categories were presented by five previous winners; for the Best Actor category, for example, five previous Best Actor winners went onstage to not only present Sean Penn with the Oscar, but to honor each nominee. That specific idea will stay, thankfully. However, it appears that Mechanic and Shankman have learned nothing from previous shows.


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