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How to improve the Oscars? 15 suggestions from our readers

How to improve the Oscars? 15 suggestions from our readers
Two wooden stand-in Oscar statuettes are ready to be taken on stage during rehearsals in the Dolby Theatre (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Academy Awards are often called Hollywood’s biggest night. But for some, the show is so outdated, it’s bordering on irrelevance.

In an effort to shake things up this year, the academy has tried to make the 91st show break from tradition. Last week, the organization announced that four categories — cinematography, film editing, live-action short film, and hair and makeup — would be handed out during commercial breaks, with the acceptance speeches edited into the show. But after industry insiders blasted the decision and top cinematographers met with leadership, the organization reversed that plan.

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That’s just one of many controversies surrounding the ceremony this year, including the popular film category that came and went in under 30 days and the decision to move forward without a host after Kevin Hart backed out.

So where should it go from here?

Ahead of Sunday’s show, The Times asked readers how they would improve the broadcast. Here are 15 of the most bold responses, edited for length and clarity.

Don Davis, 59, of Salem, N.H.

“I think posting the winner's list of people to thank and why they are thanking them, anywhere in the frame, as the winner is giving their speech would allow the winners more time to talk about the challenges they overcame and life lessons.”

Sarah Chamber, 52, of Aliso Viejo

“Should be 3 hrs, max, no more!!!! Group the categories, give both supporting actor/actress together, best actor/actress, best original score/song, etc.

“Live Action Short Film, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short Film should be eliminated from the night time broadcast.”

Caleb, 32, of Glendale

"I suggest letting the acting nominees (supporting and lead) choose the clip that is shown when they are named in the 'And here are the nominees...' preamble before the award is announced. It would put a fun spin on things since there would be talking points for days of what 10-second clip the actor/actress thought would be best indicative of their performance to show to the world."

Sue Dunn, 49, of Irvine

"Put some movie bloopers in — less public thanking and more entertainment! But it should remain host-less; the hosts’ jokes are lame time wasters."

Mauricio, 54, of Long Beach

“Listen, we should quit focusing on how long it is and just let it go on as long as it needs to go. It should be a night that celebrates excellence in film, and all the various elements that contribute to the art. Let people talk. No one puts limits on the Super Bowl...

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Think about it: The winner of best live-action short film is having the best night of his/her/their life...and we get to share that with them? That’s pretty cool, right?”

Michael Kimmel, 65, of San Diego

“Eliminate all televised categories except for acting, directing and best picture. That should get it down to about an hour. All other categories can be awarded after the televised portion is over. In my experience, most of us ‘civilians’ are only interested in those three awards.”

Marshall McNott, 83, of Montgomery Village, Md.

"Find a Bob Hope, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres level of host with humor and humility."

Carole Gerster, 70, of Santa Cruz

“I like dual hosts, who represent some real diversity of race and gender.”

Steven Solomon, 52, of West Hollywood

"The academy and ABC should be thinking bigger, not smaller. The Oscars should be Vegas, Cirque du Soleil, and, well, the Oscars all rolled into one over-the-top show that both entertains and honors the films and art form! Perhaps new academy leadership is desperately needed."

Frank Trotter, 71, of Towson, Md.

“Have all the nominees appear on stage as they are announced. When the winner is announced, he or she would proceed to the mic and receive the Oscar. The other nominees could remain on stage or depart. It would eliminate the walking up to the stage.

I would give one minute for all acceptance speeches except for best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress — these would all get 4 minutes each."

Brian Hurd, 65, of Palm Springs

"I think they should wring the politics out of the event. We get enough of that everywhere else."

Martin Towery, 61, of Cypress

“Get rid of the songs, if they want to save time. That category is boring. It's not the Grammys — give that award the same time as other categories.

“If there is a host, just get down to business, no need for a stand-up routine.”

Diane McQuay, 64, of Cottonwood Heights, Utah

"I think the last couple of years have included gag-type breaks (like the tourists that Kimmel invited in and Ellen DeGeneres' pizza) can be funny, but can bomb. If included, they need to be cut back in time by a lot.

“Whatever happens, ALL Awards should be shown live. Those winners deserve a few moments to be acknowledged for their work."

Mazy, 49, of Los Angeles

“Please stop the ridiculous scripted (or not) banter and terrible jokes by award presenters — it’s boring and not funny.”

Robert E. Lanford, 64, of Anaheim

“Eliminate the acceptance speeches. Announce the winner and have a camera pan to them as they smile and wave. Then, move on.”

Female filmmakers Rachel Morrison, Milly Iatrou, Melissa Rosenberg, Mandy Walker and Penelope Spheeris talk about obstacles they have faced in the industry and why they believe representation of diversity matters.
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