Don't get me wrong: I am a fan of the Academy Awards. And while the "casual fan" doesn't want to sit through more than three hours of award show, I'm totally fine with it. That stated...
It's long not made sense to me that "Best Picture" is awarded solely to producers. Yes, unlike most, I understand the role of the producer and why they are the ultimate "boss" for a given film production. But film is collaboration, is it not? And the entirety of a "picture" requires so much more than just the hands of its producers.
So I propose one of two solutions. The first solution, being the simplest, is to give producers some sort of "Best Producer/Producing/Production" award to recognize their value to the industry. And then award "Best Picture" to a conglomerate of sorts... the producers, the directors, etc. (maybe even the executive producers and/or the studio responsible for the film). Unfortunately, this would add an award and a few minutes to the telecast.
The second solution, somewhat related, is to get rid of the "Best Director" award and simply add a film's director as a recipient of the "Best Picture" award. I mean, why not? This would eliminate an award (which usually goes to the same film anyway) and shorten the telecast.
Since 1962, when the name of the award was changed from "Best Motion Picture" to "Best Picture," there have been only 8 instances (out of 47 award years) when the Best Picture and Best Director awards were given to separate movies:
- 1967 - Best Picture: In the Heat of the Night; Best Director: Mike Nichols, The Graduate
- 1972 - Best Picture: The Godfather; Best Director: Bob Fosse, Cabaret
- 1981 - Best Picture: Chariots of Fire; Best Director: Warren Beatty, Reds
- 1989 - Best Picture: Driving Miss Daisy; Best Director: Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July
- 1998 - Best Picture: Shakespeare in Love; Best Director: Steven Spielberg, Saving Private Ryan
- 2000 - Best Picture: Gladiator; Best Director: Steven Soderbergh, Traffic
- 2002 - Best Picture: Chicago; Best Director: Roman Polanski, The Pianist
- 2005 - Best Picture: Crash; Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
- 1948 - Best Motion Picture: Hamlet; Best Director: John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- 1949 - Best Motion Picture: All the King's Men; Best Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, A Letter to Three Wives
- 1951 - Best Motion Picture: An American in Paris; Best Director: George Stevens, A Place in the Sun
- 1952 - Best Motion Picture: The Greatest Show on Earth; Best Director: John Ford, The Quiet Man
- 1956 - Best Motion Picture: Around the World in 80 Days; Best Director: George Stevens, Giant
It's not a lock for a film to take home both awards, to be sure, but is an 11% to 20% occurrence rate enough to warrant separate awards?
More Oscar Musings
There should be an Academy Award for Best Stunts. Yes, there should be. Don't argue with me about this.
There should also be an Academy Award for Best Casting. Now, unlike in television, the directors of film like to take credit for most of a film's casting (and rightfully so), which is the primary argument as to why there is no award for Best Casting. However, I propose that (like the Best Picture idea above) both the film director and casting director receive this award. Why not? Oh, wait... telecast.
You wanna shorten the telecast? Get rid of the musical numbers. Keep the opening act, yes, but ditch the five songs throughout. Just play snippets of them when it's time for the category to be announced... you know, like all the other categories do it?
I'm willing to bet that increasing the Best Picture field back to 10 will have no positive effect on the ratings for the Oscars telecast. Whoever came up with that idea is, well... hmm... let's just say that it wasn't thought through.
I have a solution that might work, regarding award presentations and telecast length and ratings... but that can wait for another day.