Edward Norton is intimately familiar with the lengthy, expensive campaigns that occur in the months leading up to the Academy Awards. The brilliant and fiercely talented performer has been nominated three times, most recently for his incredible performance in Birdman (though he lost out to JK Simmons, for Whiplash). And now, having been through the process a few times, Norton has big, bold ideas on how to fix the system.
During an interview with Indiewire, Edward Norton laments the monetization of the awards season, saying that all of the major Guild shows are now televised, and the National Board of Review has evolved from a quiet dinner to a large-scale event. If he ran the show, Norton says he’d do this:
The Academy, which is a private organization, could save the industry by saying, 'It's our award and we can do whatever we want.' They could say that any film putting out paid solicitation ads of any kind — all these ‘For Your Consideration’ ads that cost millions and millions of dollars, which just solicit awards — they could say that any film using them is disqualified from the Academy Awards. It would end it overnight."
And it would be a dagger to the heart of a massive industry that focuses year-round on the acquisition of awards. The Awards Chase isn’t a cottage industry. It’s a gigantic machine that powers numerous Web sites (yes, CinemaBlend dedicates time and space to the Awards race), provides jobs for endless amounts of public-relations specialists, journalists, marketers and studio representatives who legitimately work year-round to campaign for prestige pictures who are in the current awards race, and prepare for the campaigns for the following year.
Could Edward Norton’s plan work? It would need plenty of modification. What it likely would do is change the way that the studios promote their films. Instead of spending months telling audiences that films like Everest, Sicario or In The Heart of the Sea are awards "worthy," studios could pour money into marketing campaigns for the films that actual WON an award. However, that means only winners would have the ability to celebrate, and the normal four nominees that spent millions just to come up as also-rans would be out of the limelight, and out of the race.
Do audiences care? We hear from so many of our readers that they wait to see movies like Birdman or Boyhood after they have won awards. Then again, there are patrons who go to see EVERYTHING that receives nominations from the Academy, as well as the smaller guilds. I think Ed Norton means well, but do you think that his ideas could ever come to fruition?