Bruce Watson: Putting a new shine on Oscar

Last modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
LEVERETT — Hollywood is very worried about this weekend’s Oscars. Seems the Academy’s “night of nights” has been watered down, diluted, become ho-hum. Now that twice as many movies are nominated for Best Picture, now that half of all big names in Hollywood are up for Academy Awards, Oscar seems tired and tarnished.

This year’s nine Best Picture nominees — wait, it was just upped to 18 — have received little box office boost. And there is a haunting sense that if the latest media “content” can’t be streamed or downloaded, audiences don’t have time for it.

But the problem may not be the movies. It might be the awards. Consider the categories. Cinematography? Costume Design? Sound? Are these what movies are still about? Or are they about selling dreamscapes, explosions, and homespun paranoia to a numbed audience, with popcorn at $10 a box?

So instead of expanding the nominees, the Academy should expand the categories. Listen for the box office jingle when Oscars are given for:

Best Use of Product-Placement in a Family Comedy: The nominees are — Best Buy in “Best Buy Guys”; Bed, Bath, and Beyond in “Beyond Bed and Bath”; Bank of America in “Sub-Prime Love”; Pampers in “Pampered”

Best Performance by a Pick-up Truck or SUV in a Dramatic Role: Dodge RAM in “Eat My Dirt”; Ford 150 in “Hanoi Storm Troopers”; Chevy Bronco Bull Blazer in “Patriotic Guzzler”

Biggest $10 Popcorn Serving: Cinemark, “Big-A Bucket-o-Corn”; AMC, “Canyon-o-Kernels”; Cineplex, “Big Butt Butter Box”; Giant Cinema, “Pop Goes Your Stomach”

Best Use of Random Flying Objects in a 3-D Film: “Shrapnel: The Movie”; “Return to the Big Bang”; “The Hunger Games: Arrows in Your Face”; “Incoming!!!”

Best Fake Southern Accent by a Performer Who Has Never Been South of Pittsburgh: Sandra Bullock in “Mumble Gumbo”; Brad Pitt in “Alabama Action Hero”; George Clooney in “Return to Grits Mountain”

Best Performance by a Sinister Government Official in a Summer Blockbuster: Leonardo DiCaprio in “Surveillance Supervisor”; Harvey Keitel in “CIA Family Values”; Christopher Walken in “NSA: Going Rogue”; Nicolas Cage in “Tom Clancy’s ‘Evil Blood-Sucking Government’”

Best Performance in a Date Movie: Mila Kunis in “Whoa, Check Her Out”; Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games: Date Night”; Turk StudMuffin in “Pecs and Me”; Fed Chairman Janet Yellen in “Sub Prime Love”

Best Use of Explosions in a Stupid Movie: Michael Bay in “Washington D.C: Battle For America”; Jerry Bruckheimer in “Testosterone Confidential”; John Woo in “Goodnight Moon: Live Version”

Best Crossover Performance by a Hip-Hop Artist in a Debut Role: J3 McFumm in “Wassup”; Homey Jo Hunk in “24/7: The Movie”; Tuff in “Mrff Drgg, Whoa”; K-Star in “Dream Girl Based on the Song by K-Star”

Best Wholesale Rewriting of History in a Dramatic Movie: “Hanoi Storm Troopers”; “Castro Down: The Bay of Pigs Movie”; “Reagan: The Walk on Water”; “The Crusades: Takin’ it All Back.”

Loudest Movie Trailer: “We Arm the World”; “Shrapnel: The Movie”; “Return to the Big Bang.”

Best Voice-Over in an Animated Film: James Earl Jones in “Goodnight, Moon”; Scarlett Johansson in “Hello, Kitty”; iPhone 5S in “SIRI, What’s the Meaning of Life?”

Most Innovative Use of Technology: “The iPad Movie”; “Vin Diesel’s Straight to Streaming”; “Netflix: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hollywood.”

Shortest Title in a Homespun Southern Drama: “Jed!”; “Jo!”; “J!”; “!”

Most Creative Use of Special Effects: “Congress Down”; “Wall of Water: The Global Warming Movie”; “This is Your Brain on Drugs, Any Questions?”

May I have the envelope, please?

Bruce Watson’s column appears twice a month. He can be reached at opinion@gazettenet.com.