We are currently in the midst of awards season in Hollywood, and that means a number of big events where the brightest and best in film are recognized for their work in the previous year. As is always the case, the majority of those awards come off as nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the big event that everyone waits for with baited breath; The Academy Awards.
The nominees for all the major Oscar categories have now been announced, and as usual there is an equal mix of surprise omissions and much deserved nominations. What there also is are a number of movies that no-one has seen or heard of that are up for the Best Picture category. It seems that the days of successful box office movies being included in that list are long gone, no matter how hard the Academy tries to bring it back.
You think back to as recently as the 90's when movies such as, "Silence of the Lambs," and, "Braveheart," killed at the box office, as well as being a major hit with the critics. It almost seems to work in reverse now, as the nominated movies seem to make all their money AFTER they receive the Oscar nod. That is usually brought on by a stampede of people rushing out to see what all the fuss is about, and then being left to wonder what all the fuss is about after sitting through 2 hours of a movie that looks great, but fails to make a mark on the average viewer.
The Academy seemed to sense that there was a growing disconnect between the movies that were nominated and the average moviegoer. To that end they changed the number of nominated films from 5, to anywhere up to 10, which allowed a few box office favorites to make it into the mix. Many will argue that all it will do is add 5 more movies that have no chance of winning, but will placate an Oscars watching audience that is growing somewhat weary of seeing artistically beautiful period pieces win out over a box office smash that still found a way to connect with the moviegoer on a number of different levels.
The Academy Awards have been around for more than 80 years, and are in no danger of ever going away, but the TV viewing audience will continue to shrink as long as movies that no-one has seen continue to win the top prize. That's not to say that the movies that win aren't deserving of the award, it simply means that the viewer doesn't really have a favorite movie to root for, and thus choose not to watch.