Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

The Oscars just don't matter

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
February 23, 2013 -- Updated 1952 GMT (0352 HKT)
Ellen DeGeneres makes her return to the Dolby Theatre stage this weekend as she hosts the Academy Awards for the second time. Let's see how she stacks up against herself and other hosts of Oscars' past ... Ellen DeGeneres makes her return to the Dolby Theatre stage this weekend as she hosts the Academy Awards for the second time. Let's see how she stacks up against herself and other hosts of Oscars' past ...
HIDE CAPTION
Best, worst and weirdest Oscar hosts
Weird: Donald Duck
Weird: Paul Hogan
Best: Hugh Jackman
Best: Billy Crystal
Best: Johnny Carson
Best: Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin
Best: Bob Hope
Best: Whoopi Goldberg
Honorable mention: Jon Stewart
Worst: David Letterman
Worst: Chris Rock
Worst: Chevy Chase
Worst: Jerry Lewis
Worst: Anne Hathaway and James Franco
Honorable mention: Seth MacFarlane
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah would love an Oscar, but thinks they mostly don't matter in long run
  • He says telecast not the draw it once was, and winning doesn't mean bigger box office
  • He says for stars win often doesn't mean work; award season makes Oscars anticlimatic
  • Obeidallah: Why not give Oscar awards first, then follow with smaller awards later?

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- If I won an Oscar, I'd carry it around it with me everywhere. I'd start every conversation with, "Well, as an Oscar winner..." I'd wear a pin that says, "Ask me about my Oscar." I might even get a tattoo on my neck of the golden figurine.

But that's just me. Because beyond the personal thrill of winning, the Oscars don't matter. The golden statue is increasingly becoming nothing more than a shiny paperweight.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

And I say this as someone who loves movies, appreciates the talented people who make them and has long watched the awards show. But in three categories the Academy Awards have lost their luster: the TV telecast, the box office impact of the awards on movies and their effect on people's acting careers.

Are viewers particularly interested in watching the Oscars? Not so much. TV ratings show pretty clearly that percentage of people watching the Academy Awards has trended downward over the years. For example, in 2000, nearly 47% of the people watching TV on Oscar night watched the Academy Awards. It has not been that high since, and in 2012, the number had fallen to 34%. In fact, the 2012 Grammy awards had higher overall ratings than that year's Oscar telecast.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Why? There's almost no surprise left. Viewers have a fairly good idea of who will win every big award after the parade of award shows that queue up in the weeks before the Oscars. There are so many! The Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Director's Guild, Producers Guild, the guys who run the deli by my apartment award show, etc. Oscar night feels more like a coronation than an actual awards show.

The only Oscar surprise this year -- and it's not one that will help the TV ratings -- is the Academy voters' bizarre snub of Ben Affleck for a Best Director nomination for his film "Argo." Affleck won Best Director honors at this year's Golden Globes, as well as at the Director's Guild, SAG and Producer's Guild awards. He even won the best director prize at the British Academy Awards. Apparently, the Academy voters still won't forgive Affleck for the stinker "Gigli."

Bergen: 'Zero Dark Thirty': Did torture really net bin Laden?

In the category of how much does an Oscar help your film at the box office, the envelope says: Not much. Sure, there's an "Oscar bump," but look at the 2009 Best Picture winner, "The Hurt Locker." It ended up grossing only $17 million in the United States. Keep in mind that $100 million in domestic box office receipts is generally considered a hit. $17 million is a bomb.

Also last year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, "The Artist," ended up earning approximately $45 million in U.S. theaters. No boffo hit there.

Cullen: With 'Lincoln', a new frontier for Day-Lewis

And here's something that the Academy Awards hate to hear: Winning a Golden Globe has proven to be much more profitable for a movie than winning an Oscar. That is at least according to a recent analysis that looked at award-wining films over the past 12 years. Edmund Helmer, a statistician whose website, BoxOfficeQuant.com, analyzes film industry statistics found that movies that won an Academy Award had on average a $3 million bump in box office sales. However, Golden Globe winners saw on average a pop of $14 million. Pretty big dollar difference.

Oprah on where she'll watch the Oscars
Denzel Washington at the Oscars Luncheon
Sally Field at the Oscars Luncheon
Film director saves kids' lives

And in the category of how much does an Oscar help your acting career, there's no denying it can help. But Oscar gold doesn't always translate into personal gold. Many talented actors and actress have won this coveted award only to find themselves with little film work a few years later. I'm talking Oscar winners like Mira Sorvino, Joe Pesci, Louis Gossett Jr. and Kim Basinger.

Williams: Django, in chains

Perhaps the most glaring example of this is actress/comedian Mo'Nique, who won the 2009 Best Supporting Actress award for her role in "Precious." According to the Internet Movie Date Base (IMDb), her only movie since her Oscar triumph went straight to video.

Conversely, there's a long list of amazingly talented actors and actresses who have yet to win an Oscar. A partial list includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Julianne Moore, Tom Cruise, Gary Oldman, Johnny Depp and Annette Benning.

Obviously, Academy Awards organizers have little impact on some of these issues. But one change they can consider is moving the Oscars up to take place before the other award shows -- like states in the presidential primaries. At least then the Academy Awards will provide real drama as to winners and losers.

Despite knowing the likely winners, I'm still looking forward to watching Sunday's Oscars. This year's host is the very funny Seth Macfarlane. Although I think the funniest moment of the awards' show may be when Russell Crowe sings a song from "Les Misérables."

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1629 GMT (0029 HKT)
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
August 24, 2014 -- Updated 0105 GMT (0905 HKT)
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2203 GMT (0603 HKT)
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2152 GMT (0552 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT