Over at the Hollywood Reporter, Scott Feinberg argues that the move to an electronic voting system could allow the Academy Awards to move dramatically earlier in the year, putting pressure on the competing awards shows that have sapped the Oscars’ momentum in the run-up to the big night. I actually wonder if what would help even more than the schedule change would be that electronic voting might make younger Academy voters more likely to participate.
This year’s Academy Awards nominations seemed decidedly creaky in most of the major categories, whether it was the odd nods for War Horse or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or the fact that Jonah Hill was almost bizarrely young in comparison to the other men up for acting awards. A movie like Bridesmaids, which probably resonated much more with younger viewers than with older ones, picked up some smaller nominations but didn’t make the cut for Best Picture — it would also be interesting to see whether comedies in general would do better with younger Academy viewers than older ones. And Shame, which I imagine would have been a hard sell to get the Academy’s most conservative older viewers to even watch, was shut out entirely.
I’m not saying that the Academy should become the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards or anything. And paper ballots should be available to older voters who want to use them. But if you’re worried about declining viewership for the Oscars, it’s not just a matter of timing. It’s a matter of viewers in the demo feeling like they have skin in the game.