Are the Oscars worthwhile?


Fact Box

  • The 2024 Oscars averaged 19.5 million viewers, a 4% increase from the previous year, and the largest audience since the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • During the Oscars ceremony, Oppenheimer won with 13 nominations and awards in best director, best actor, and best picture. Its rival, Barbie, received an award for best song “What Was I Made For?” although Ryan Gosling made a splash with his performance of Ken’s “I’m Just Ken” hit song. 
  • A 2022 Onepoll study found that 40% of respondents thought the awards were a “great way to recognize filmmakers,” however, 34% agreed that viewers cared too much about the acting awards and not enough about the filming process.
  • The Academy Award statuettes were dubbed 'Oscars' in 1931 after then-Academy librarian Margaret Herrick noticed that they resembled her Uncle Oscar.

Emily (No)

In the past, the Oscars was an annual awards event not to be missed, drawing millions of eager viewers. However, recent years have seen a significant decline in viewer ratings. Historically, this celebrity event had impressive viewer ratings of over 30 million. However, 2021's airing hit an all-time low, with only 10.4 million tuning in. Although the following years drew in a bigger audience, the Oscars still needed to catch up to past numbers. For example, this year's airing only had 19.5 million spectators, and the target viewing demographic of viewers aged 18-49 dropped by 5%.

Furthermore, viewers may be less interested in watching the Oscars because the awards appear subjective and based on monetary influence. In previous years, the general audience could watch in suspense to see if their favorite film received a nomination or an award. But recently, the awards seem tied to public relations—and good public relations is often the ticket to an Oscar.

Similarly, the awards have become predictable, with viewers being able to narrow down possible winners. In fact, FiveThirtyEight used a model to successfully predict several of the 2018 winning actors, actresses, and directors. For this reason, it is easier to wait for the highlights to come out to see what won an Oscar. Also, many find it easier to watch the highlights than the entire event. Social media and news sources make this possible by allowing viewers to quickly access the content they're interested in without committing to seeing the full broadcast.

Dougie (Yes)

The Academy Awards are the highest distinction in the entertainment industry. They've long been a platform for groundbreaking, unforgettable creative works and acceptance speeches that inspire the next wave of performers.

An array of film awards exist; however, as a prize earned solely through esteemed peer voting, the Oscar is revered as the highest honor among creative storytellers on a global scale. With a nearly century-long track record of acknowledging excellence in film, the Oscars create game-changing funding for independent works that would likely find no other outlet to be produced—films that push boundaries and speak to specialized audiences, often brought forth by otherwise relatively unknown production companies.

Oscar consideration means supremely boosted publicity. It's an incomparable vehicle for establishing professionals in their field. The awards also spotlight the most noteworthy international and foreign-language films each year.

Once nominated for an Academy Award, a creative artist can count on a marked improvement in their career trajectory. The ceremony is rooted in publicity and continues to broaden audiences, like with Apple's 'Coda,' which shines a light on the deaf population and their families.

The Academy Awards set an example for stellar motion pictures. It's a tradition that's built the scaffolding for generation after generation of creators to both aspire to and challenge. It's the grand talent show for Hollywood's very best, prompting higher sales and greater prominence for countless creatives from all walks of life. It's a celebration of film as an art; even its highest critics must always be aware of its irrefutably important outcomes.

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