And the Oscar goes … to the ums and ahs

Now that Hollywood’s award season is finally over, I have a couple questions.

Now that Hollywood’s award season is finally over, I have a couple questions.

First: why don’t some of these talented nominees and presenters get a bit of training in public speaking before getting up on stage in front of millions?

Televised award shows are a form of profitable entertainment, just as much as the movies, TV shows and music the artists are being honoured for.

I can understand a sound mixer or production designer struggling to spit out their words of gratitude after winning an award as prestigious and career transforming as an Oscar, but when the famous performers themselves have me feeling like the “Ah Counter” at a Toastmasters meeting, that’s not a good sign.

For those unfamiliar with Toastmasters, it’s an international organization that helps people become more comfortable with the terrifying prospect of speaking in front of an audience of any size.

The “Ah Counter” is one of the duties in a meeting that has a member recording ahs, ums, filler words and repeats whenever someone gets up to speak.

I seem to automatically take on that role every time I watch an awards show, especially one as grand as the Oscars.

This year, the beautiful best supporting actor Jared Leto uttered at least 15 ahs or ums during his otherwise entertaining and gracious speech.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some terrific presentations at the Academy Awards and I adore the institution that it is.

I’m a huge movie buff and I’ve watched them every year since my Nanan first introduced me to the classic films of her era when I was a little kid. I love the fashions, the predictions and all the silly pomp and circumstance that goes along with the red carpet, star-studded affair.

But I just think that if you’re a nominee with a one-in-five chance of winning a little gold man that will invariably increase your salary potential, you owe it to your massive audience to give a great — and brief — acceptance speech.

If you can’t memorize and deliver your lines as if you’re in a Broadway play, you should read them from a hand held cue card and then get off the stage.

The same applies to the presenters who are sometimes betrayed by the faulty teleprompters or their own nerves, as was displayed yet again this year on several occasions. Despite the fact that these presenters are almost always incredibly famous actors who learn lines for a living, unprofessional mistakes often occur.

Maybe if the telecast wasn’t four hours long, these flubs would be less noticeable.

Which raises my second question: why aren’t the Oscars half the length in time?

Out of the 24 awards that are handed out, the general public is probably interested in less than a dozen of those categories, and I don’t think they’d mind if the “boring awards” were given out at a separate ceremony like the ones handed out two weeks prior at the Scientific and Technical Awards.

I realize a shortened spectacle would result in fewer money-making advertising opportunities, but it also might assist in rebuilding the ratings, which have dropped substantially over the last two decades.

This year, for my first time ever, I didn’t watch the Oscars live. My son had a basketball practice that started at the same time as the show, so I set the PVR and avoided the internet, radio and TV so I wouldn’t hear any results in advance.

Almost two hours after the show began, my husband and I started watching the recorded program, fast forwarding through all the commercials and boring bits.

By the time it was wrapping up with the final best picture award being presented, we had caught up, saving ourselves a bunch of time.

No doubt millions of clever people have been viewing it this way for many years.

From now on, we will as well. And I’ll still be counting the ahs and ums as we watch.