Then there is the ratings concern, causing sleepless nights for producer Donna Gigliotti, who was handed the reins this year with a mission to make the show shorter, snappier and more relevant.
Gigliotti, who won an Oscar as a producer of Shakespeare in Love and was nominated for producing The Reader, Silver Linings Playbook and Hidden Figures, is having to turn all her talent to reversing the downward spiral. Last year’s show drew record low ratings; the all-time high of 55 million viewers, in 1998, plunged to a mere 26.5 million.
Certainly there is a correlation between the show’s ratings and the total box office of the nominees; 1998 was the year that Titanic swept the board, and Robin Williams’ turn in Good Will Hunting delighted film goers. Last year’s nominees, by contrast, failed to catch fire.
To combat that, in August the Academy announced “a new category designed around achievement in popular film.” But the outcry was immediate and, with accusations of dumbing down, they swiftly scrapped the new award.