The Academy debases itself by pandering to this form of populism. It’s a sop to couch potatoes
Ladies and gentlemen, I have the envelope in my hand. And the prize for Most Conflicted Awards Ceremony goes to … let’s see if I can tear this open … why, it’s the Academy Awards, of course!
Could there really be any other winner? Not the Golden Globes, voted for by the sycophantic freeloaders of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who are quite clear about what they want: to be pampered and partied on the studio dime. And not the Baftas, which aspire merely to equal the influence and gravitas of the Oscars. (Fat chance.) Whereas the Academy Awards themselves, celebrated but also mocked and pilloried, are in a cleft stick. On the one hand, they must retain their (admittedly erratic) record of rewarding artistic excellence. On the other, they seek to court the popular vote by handing prizes to films that the audience at home – the ones the broadcast relies on for its ratings – have actually seen. Viewers tend to switch off in their millions if the contest is between a clutch of masterpieces unlikely to trouble the multiplex.