The 2014 Academy Awards Telecast Shows No Love to Writers

By Daniel Ford

…or viewers for that matter.

Every year, I use the Oscars telecast as an excuse to wear a suit and tie, drink decent scotch, and beam out snark to a handful of Twitter followers (Check out Writer’s Bone’s Twitter feed for our favorites from last night).

While there were some wonderfully sweet (Bill Murray taking a moment to honor Harold Ramis (and then apologizing for interrupting like a gentleman) and weird moments (Kim Novak (channeling The Yellow King), there was a certain lack of…appreciation for the things that matter most (no, it was not movie heroes). Specifically, there didn’t seem to be an appreciation for the screenwriters who gave all of those actors and actresses something worthwhile to say while fervently hoping to win a shiny gold statue.

I was not alone in noticing this trend:

Was it me or did ANOTHER producer and director FAIL to thank the effiing WRITER. #TheOscars
— Doug Richardson (@byDougRich) March 3, 2014

Writer’s Bone essayist Dave Pezza pointed out that many of the films that were nominated were based off of excellent source material, but the authors of those books weren’t given proper credit (with the exception of Best Picture winner “12 Years A Slave” whose producers and cast gave proper respect to Solomon Northup).

I was excited to get to the adapted and original screenplay categories, for obvious reasons, and the fact at that point I wanted Ellen DeGeneres to throw a hot pizza in my face so I could feel something again.

And then Robert De Niro stepped to the microphone. Here’s what he said:

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

What the fuck??? I mean, what the fuck? Seriously, what in the holy fucks of fuck?

You know what the worst part is. That was written by a writer! A writer who thought that would get a laugh! Someone on the Oscars writing team wanted to put those words into a movie star’s mouth and broadcast them to millions of viewers. De Niro also couldn’t have been happier to deliver those lines—which is more than we can say for the lines he’s delivered in some of his recent movies. Each word escaped his lips joyously like chocolate-flavored battery acid.

We're beginning to think the script for the #Oscars looks like a Mad Libs page. Example: This show ______-ing ______ huge _____. #Oscars
— Writer's Bone (@WritersBone) March 3, 2014

Listen, writers can be easy targets, I get it. But writers are a lot of other things too. Writers are hard-working, dedicated, passionate, and are consumed with the same desire to entertain and enthrall viewers that actors and directors have. They are certainly more capable of attracting a viable audience than a cheap, exploitive selfie (#dontretweetcannedgarbage).

If the Academy wants people to care more about their awards, they need to employ writers who think more of themselves than the ones on display last night. It would be great if they could find someone that has interacted with an actual human being more recently than 1999.

And you know where a lot of those writers are, Hollywood? Writing great television shows like “True Detective.” Writers who are writing about broken, neurotic, and crippled human beings instead of living out a lame, uninspired stereotype.

Go find some talented writers ASAP or you can enjoy your sad, lonely, boring plunge into irrelevance.