The Academy Awards are a bit more interesting than they have been for quite a few years for two reasons:

  1. This year feels like the culmination of a real generational shift underway with the Oscars. Traditional titles like TAR, Elvis, and All Quiet On The Western Front are taking a backseat to the meta, meme-friendly Everything Everywhere All At Once - a film that alienated a lot of older Oscar viewers, apparently.

    That alienation may mean we see an upset with a film like All Quiet taking the Best Picture. But after a few years of seeing films like Moonlight and Parasite win, it seems entirely possible that the metatextual EEAAO that includes dildos, hotdog fingers, the best performance we have seen from a rock in some time, and a genuinely affecting parody of Pixar's mouse chef may actually win.
  2. It's a make or break it year for the Oscars as a mainstream cultural institution. The awards have been on a downward slide for years now. And not just because TV broadcast ratings across the board have declined. The argument has long been that people don't know the nominated films - this year has two huge blockbusters in the form of Top Gun Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water nominated. If the ratings continue to slide or hover around the 16 million viewer mark in the US, it's a sign that the Oscars are on a continued downward trajectory and that the mainstream is simply rejecting the awards show. Not great for the Academy who will soon be negotiating fees to extend the Oscars contract with Disney.

    My guess is that we actually see a boost this year - maybe around 20/21 million.

Where to watch down under

In the US, the Oscars are on ABC, which has been the case for years now. Here in Australia I am still in the mindset that the show will be simulcast on Nine, which had been its home for years and years. But, as was the case last year, the awards are actually on Seven, broadcast from 11am.

But a warning: If you want to watch the show live, you'll only be able to do so on broadcast in the eastern states that observe daylight saving time. But you can watch it streamed live on the 7Plus app.

The award I'm watching

The reason why there is that generational shift is because the Academy opened its doors a few years ago to a much larger (and younger) voting body in the wake of #OscarSoWhite. Something I think people should watch for is the Best Supporting Actress category. Yes, it will likely go to either Angela Bassett or Jamie Lee Curtis, but I'm keeping an eye on Stephanie Hsu, who was also nominated for Everything Everywhere All At Once - the week of voting coincided nicely with her appearance on the popular Poker Face. Could it have been enough to sway some voters? The answer is probably not, but lets see if there is such a thing as the #PokerFaceBump?

The gift bags

It's an honour just to be nominated - but then there's also the $126k gift bag given to the Best Director and Best Actor/Actress nominees. This is considered taxable income, so recipient beware.

The priciest freebie is a $40,000 three-night stay at a “remote luxury property” called The Lifestyle in Canada, which includes a “fully-stocked fridge,” an “in-home movie theater,” and access to a 1965 Shelby Cobra and a 2023 McLaren Artura.
Oscar gift bags include Clif Bars and $126,000 worth of nicer stuff
What, it’s not like Steven Spielberg can afford his own trips to Italy and fancy popcorn

More chatter

  • Sir Roger Deakins, who knows a thing or two about cinematography says that the film with the best cinematography this past year was overlooked: The Batman. He's right, of course. Read: Deadline
  • Ad inventory for the US Oscars broadcast is sold out with network ABC selling adds between $1.6-2.1 million. Read: Next TV
  • Thai conductor Somtow Sucharitkul writes that the ending of TAR did not represent what most of the audience assumed (a fall from grace). Read: THR
  • The laundromat from Everything Everywhere All At Once has become a tourist attraction. Read: The AV Club
  • Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead say they are working on a TV series set in the universe of their film The Endless. Fans of that film, such as me, will recall that The Endless wasn't the first film of theirs set in the world of The Endless - that was actually Resolution, which has a nifty cross-over between the two films. Read: Dark Horizons
  • Among the losers of the Silicon Valley Bank crash: Roku, which had about 26% of its cash tied up in the bank. Read: CNN
  • Director Reed Morano is one of the creatives who left Amazon Prime Video series The Power amid a troubled production. Read: Deadline
  • I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson returns to Netflix May 30. Read: thefutoncritic
  • Here's a good list of terrible TV characters added to long-running shows. Read: TV Line
  • New Girl is a huge title on Netflix and has been since 2013 - it leaves for Hulu & Peacock April 17. Read: Deadline
  • Tim Davie is at the centre of the BBC furore over the pubcaster standing down popular presenter Gary Lineker over a tweet. Read: The Guardian
  • Elizabeth Banks' animated series Bedrock, a sequel to The Flintstones, has been given a pilot presentation order from Fox. Read: Deadline
  • ATSC3.0 is a technology that will dramatically improve broadcast TV, but is this a case of a technology providing a solution for a dissinterested market? Read: The Verge
  • Charming Apple TV+ hang-out comedy Shrinking has been renewed for a second season. Read: THR
  • UK commercial broadcaster ITV will shut down its linear children’s channel CITV in early autumn, moving kids content to streamer ITVX. Read: C21
  • Don't expect a price rise when HBO Max launches its new rebranded service. Read: Bloomberg

American Born Chinese debuts on Disney+ May 24. Among the cast for the series: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu.

Oh Belinda debuts April 7 on Netflix.

A young actor's perfect life takes a madcap turn when she agrees to star in a commercial - and suddenly gets transported to her character's world.

That's it for today. Tomorrow: more newsletter.