And the Oscar for most self-satirising ceremony goes to …


No actual host, plans to give awards off-screen – it’s not as if the Academy Awards need any more unscripted drama

The way the organisers tell it, the Oscars ceremony is vital to the US’s sense of it itself – like cheap gas, or getting mired in faraway wars, or getting mired in faraway wars for cheap gas. The zombie statistic that a billion people will be watching the Academy Awards on Sunday night staggers on.

Last year, US ratings were a record-low 26.5 million – with honourees reminded constantly of this non-fact. Their speeches therefore can – indeed, must! – be read as the considered outreach of people deciding precisely what they want to say to the global community of African miners, Indonesian fishermen, Chinese farmers and so on making up the imaginary viewing figures.

And yet, there is a strong sense that the Academy couldn’t organise – how to put this? – couldn’t organise a movie awards ceremony in Hollywood. As you may recall, one of its most cherished affectations is to have an international accounting firm auditing it. And, two years ago, a senior PricewaterhouseCoopers partner gave the wrong best picture envelope to Warren Beatty – who duly palmed the weirdness off on Faye Dunaway (like a Warren Beatty character wouldn’t have done).

If you are wondering “how hard can getting the right winner actually be?”, the answer is reflected in the fact that, last year, PwC’s global chairman personally took charge of the backstage admin, to oversee the process of not cocking up this preposterously simple task. I’m paraphrasing for him. What he actually said in one of his pre-Oscars interviews – even the accountants are on the Oscar interview circuit – was that PwC had been very busy “practising the what-ifs”.

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