The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 2, 2014

Oscars fans act like they go to movies

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Tonight’s broadcast of the Oscars will be the Super Bowl of awards shows, second only to the NFL’s season finale among TV viewers, and that’s strange, a Penn State University lecturer on media says.

“It is very likely that most people watching the Oscars haven’t seen 90 percent of the movies up for the awards,” Kevin Hagopian said. “It doesn’t matter anymore. It really doesn’t. Just like the Super Bowl, the Oscars is a spectacle. And to many people, it doesn’t matter who wins. It’s just good enough to have seen your favorite stars gathered together under one roof, celebrating the art of movies. And it’s fun. No one gets hurt, except perhaps a few feelings.”

Do you remember what movie won last year’s Best Picture? Have you seen it?

Nevertheless, the 2013 Academy Awards attracted 40.3 million viewers, making it the second most-watched Oscars telecast since 2005. The Oscars easily topped all other awards shows in 2013, outdrawing the Golden Globes by 20.6 million viewers and the Grammys by 11.9 million.

Only the Super Bowl attracted more viewers to their TVs.

There’s something else at work, Hagopian said, “and it’s as weird and wonderful as the actual art of movie-making itself.

“Years ago, the fact that viewers might not have seen the nominated movies was a problem,” he said. “Now, with all those different platforms available, instead of it being a show that reminds people of movies they’ve already seen, it almost acts as a preview of movies they can rent or stream. The thinking is, now those who watch the TV show will see the films that have been nominated and won.”

The Oscars affords viewers the chance to see clips of movies they want to see, or — after viewing the clip — might never want to see. Documentaries are honored. So too are directing, writing and special effects.

Movies that fall on the artistic side of film-making find themselves winning Oscars more often, those that have been internationalized and heavily influenced by the independent movement. It’s rare to see a blockbuster movie, like “The Avengers,” or “Iron Man 3” capture a major award.

Huge hits like “The Lord of the Rings” rarely get honored by the Academy.

The Oscars is Rocky played out on your TV screen. Can that little, rarely-seen movie gem beat out a blockbuster? Can an unknown actor take out the established superstar? And whose star is on the rise?

“That’s the allure,” Hagopian said. “That’s what makes this so compelling every year.”

And the Oscar for the Best Picture of 2013? “Argo.”