After Streep, Sacha and Seacrest, ten ways to improve the Oscars

<em>Picture: iheartstockings</em>
Picture: iheartstockings
Dullsville, Ohio.

That was the phrase used by Dean Martin, who knew a thing or two about parties, to describe bashes which just weren’t happening.

The Oscars 2012 was not exactly red hot, either. It was around the temperature of what Derek Smalls gauged Spinal Tap – “lukewarm water”. Safe choice of replacement host, predictable winners, with the evening only providing two mild surprises: Meryl Streep, after 14 losses, taking home the wee gold man. And Ryan Seacrest being gunged live in front of over 100 countries on the E! network by Sacha Baron Cohen’s General Aladeen.

The ceremony, understandably dubbed “History’s Most Boring Oscars” by snarky US website Gawker, was to talking points what Katie Price’s Sun on Sunday column was to Pulitzer Prizes.

You wonder if Dino, were he still alive, would have sloped away from the Kodak Theatre for a postprandial olive elsewhere before the full five hours were up.

Here are ten tips which would instantly improve the whole thing:

The British media stop picking out the British winners as the most noteworthy story
So Meryl Streep played a Brit? So we won for Short Film and Makeup? So the Beckhams and Piers Morgan, who live in America, turned up? So what?

Most of the film industry has been at Pinewood and Shepperton for years. The history of outstanding actors is built on two stage and screen acting traditions, from Britain and America. It’s hardly surprising we get nominated and win the odd thing.

Whether Ryan Gosling was robbed not to be nominated, if it was right The Artist won five, if The Help is patronising cobblers – these are interesting debates for film fans. The fact the short film winner was from Northern Ireland… less so.

They install panto-style trap-doors on the red carpet
These would be immediately activated by the question “What are you wearing?” – and Fearne Cotton would last one question. Ryan Seacrest from the E! network would last two. And some of those reporting might actually (horror of horrors) have to watch the movies before they ask questions. It is a film show, right?

A host with edge
There’s nothing wrong with Billy Crystal. In fact, there’s plenty right with him – witty, old-school entertainment, inclusive for all generations, game to get up and sing – but the one-liners lack the real zing which came with Steve Martin (“Movies are getting too violent. I took a nine year-old boy to see Gladiator and he cried throughout. Maybe because he didn’t know who I was.”) and Chris Rock (“Why didn’t Michael Moore make Supersize Me? He’s already done the research.”)

In a recession, the general global cheer Ricky Gervais engendered by ribbing a room full of pampered millionaires was palpable. As was the disappointment when he went soft the following year and just picked on easy targets like Kim Kardashian.

Perhaps next year, Sacha Baron Cohen shouldn’t be spilling “Kim Jong-Il’s ashes” over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet, but running the thing. Or running tings, if they make it Ali G’s big comeback. They could even give Chris Rock another chance. Jude Law can take the night off.

Relocate the ceremony to the Isle of Skye
Watch Jack Nicholson board a CalMac ferry. Have the world’s media descend upon the Sleat peninsula with a bunfight for who reaches the self-catering first. And see how quickly Gerard Butler rediscovers his Scottish accent.

Anyone covering the event who refers to “Brad”, “George”, “Angelina” etc without ever having shown an indication that they have ever met them is taken out and shot
Just because.

Get the four losers to make the speeches instead of the winners
The speeches would be shorter. You’d see some real acting. Or at least some world-class bitching and bitterness.

Every year, draw lots…
…and the nominee for Best Actress who draws the short straw has to show up in Björk’s swan dress. Heck, make it really interesting – a nominee for Best Actor.

Merge it with the Razzies
A clip of Jack and Jill with Adam Sandler may have livened up this year’s event. Smash Hits magazine used to manage Most Completely Useless Thing (Chesney Hawkes edged out spiders one year) and Most Tragic Haircut in the same ceremony as Most Fanciable Male and Best Video. This is the most surefire way of providing more ying to the Academy Awards’ rather saccharine yang. In 2010, Sandra Bullock would have won both awards.

Let the Muppets take over
Kermit hosts, Miss Piggy hands out the awards – and karate-chops anyone whose speech runs too long. Animal as musical director with Rolf on the keys, Statler and Waldorf provide running commentary, food via Sweden… what’s not to like?

Have the awards season start with the Oscars
By the time we have had the British Independent Film Awards, the Directors’ and Writers’ and Screen Actors’ Guilds, the BAFTAs, the Independent Spirit awards and a thousand enterprising bookies have sent out press releases with their odds, the show has little variance for shock – only in outfits.

The only surprise this year was whether Viola Davis would see off Meryl Streep. Hardly Ronnie Radford against Newcastle.

The Oscars is the daddy of film awards. By having it last, they may suggest it’s the headliner on the bill with all the others being mere dress rehearsals – but battle fatigue had set in last year by the time Colin Firth had made his 14th acceptance speech. It can feel more like the last record played at a wedding long after

So let the others wait until it’s had its turn. Put the Oscars on first to create a real set of surprises.

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