The Oscars’ weird new speech rule: awesome or embarrassing?

02.09.16 2 years ago

Inside Out scribe Pete Docter revealed something strange in an Oscar nominee roundtable with New York magazine: a new way for winners to express thanks for people and organizations they can't fit in their speech. Is this a step up or a treacherous step back for the Academy Awards?

While speaking with Straight Outta Compton co-writer Andrea Berloff and Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, Docter brought up the new option for Oscar winners.

Docter: This year, apparently, they”re doing a thing where you can ahead of time give a list of names so you don”t have to read them. They”ll scroll along the bottom.

Berloff: Is that true?

Nagy: Yes, it is true. It was in my package from the Academy. It”s 80 words. If you email them a list by some point in February – my mother, my sister, my agent – they will scroll it across the screen as you speak.

OK, look: It doesn't take an Oscar scholar to realize that many speeches are boring because winners do nothing but list their agents, publicists, and director. Jennifer Connelly, though you mentioned a few kind words about love, I am looking at you. But I wonder how many people you can thank in a ticker without it seeming equally as overbearing as a boring speech. 

For now, I'm cautiously optimistic. For one thing, Oscars producer David Hill gave a pretty good reason for the new idea, according to Deadline.

Hill explained this idea came about after they saw what happened when the music began to play off producer Dana Perry, a winner last year for the Live Action Short Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. Unfortunately, that happened just as she began to talk about the suicide of her own son and why the film was so important to her.

There are clear benefits to using the scroll. I guess I hope that certain performers use it as an opportunity to come up with more inspired speeches. Like, maybe this gives Brie Larson a chance to tell a longer, more interesting anecdote from the set of Room? I'm here for that. 

And while I guess I'm hoping this rule makes speeches shorter, let's not forget that you can speak for upwards of three minutes at the Oscars and absolutely kill it:

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