Oscars: New Thank-You Crawl Has Decent Debut, But Needs Improvement

Alejandro_G_Inarritu_Oscar_Win_Scroll - H 2016
Courtesy of ABC

Alejandro_G_Inarritu_Oscar_Win_Scroll - H 2016

The new feature didn't keep most of the winners from wasting precious on-air time with a list of shout-outs.

It was the moment when the Academy Awards joined the ranks of CNN, The Weather Channel and CNBC with its bottom-screen crawl.

As Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy accepted their Oscars for Spotlight’s best original screenplay, a pre-written thank-you scroll ran at the bottom of the screen, freeing the pair up from ticking off a laundry list of names. But Singer, like many of the night’s other winners, used his allotted time to verbally thank the same group that was in the crawl.

But best picture Oscar winner Nicole Rocklin — who produced Spotlight with Blye Faust, Steve Golin and Michael Sugar — thought the ticker was a hit, albeit with a few suggested tweaks.

"It allowed us the opportunity to thank personal people like my child and my family in the crawl. You know, no one wants to hear you thank your cat Max," she said. "Then we used the [spoken] time to thank the business people who helped make the film happen and to challenge the Vatican [about addressing clergy sexual abuse]."

But Rocklin had two possible changes to the feature. She would have preferred a continuous ticker because she thought the text ran by too quickly and lost its intended impact — a point echoed by many viewers. Also, people in the audience at the Dolby Theatre did not see the ticker, which Rocklin would fix.

At the African American Film Critics Assos. viewing party at the Four Seasons, partygoers were largely confused or annoyed by the ticker.

"I didn’t realize what that was going on at the bottom of the screen," said The 100's Adina Porter. "I thought it was hashtags of the people who won or something. I guess they're trying to cut the speeches to stop rambling, but that’s where all the drama happens. So that needs to go.”

Regardless, it may take a year or two before the kinks are ironed out. For its debut run, there was still plenty of evidence that winners felt obliged to call out their prepared thank-yous. When Alejandro G. Inarritu won the best director Oscar for a second year in a row, he spent his allotted time thanking many of the same people already listed in the scroll (several of whom he singled out last year when he won for Birdman). Then, as he began to address the timely subject of prejudice — an issue that is playing out both at the Oscars and in the presidential election via positions taken by candidate Donald Trump about Mexican immigrants — the orchestra began to play the Mexican filmmaker off the stage. Inarritu continued to speak, and the music stopped playing. But the whole sequence begged the question, why bother with the crawl if it largely duplicated the speeches themselves?

Still, The Talk's Aisha Tyler was a fan. During the broadcast, she tweeted: "I'd like to thank the Academy for this #Oscars2016 ticker saving us from a litany of names we don't know and will never meet. #Oscars2016."

Perhaps the best use of the scroll could be found with Inside Out’s Pete Docter’s novel way of telling his kids that they would be getting a puppy. The writer/director used the scroll to tell his children: “I love you Amanda, Nick & Elie — okay yes, let’s get a dog.”

(Destiny Jackson contributed to this report.)