You know what the “biggest Oscar shock” of all time is? That intelligent people expend properly serious discussion, any year, ever, on who might or might not get any of the awards. “Like it or not,” they often remark, “it’s big business.” Well, quite. So stop giving it a reach-around.
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The idea that anyone could possibly find such activity anything other than hilarious – or at an absolute stretch, a bit of fun – should be about as credible as the traditional claim that a billion people watch the ceremony. Cate Blanchett once revealed to Oprah that the Academy Awards organisers point up this latter claim to the nominees “every two seconds”, which is probably why it is so frequently mentioned in their acceptance speeches, as they contemplate the scale of their reach at that pan-global moment in time.
For the record, 40 million Americans actually watched the thing last year, and though I’m sure the 960-million viewer deficit was made up by all the Chinese farmers and Philippine fishermen rushing home to remark that Ben Affleck had been unforgivably snubbed and that Faye Dunaway is too old not to have covered her arms, we may have to flag that 1bn statistic as one of Hollywood’s more deluded fantasies. Which, considering the competition, makes it utterly certifiable.
Still, if you want the Oscars in numbers ahead of Sunday’s ceremony, let me give you the only one you need to know: last week, more Americans went to see The Lego Movie than all the nine movies nominated for Best Picture combined.