And the Winner Was... -

And the Winner Was…


Brian Johnson expertly handled the Oscar live-blogging, but once you’ve finished reading that, come back here (where I wrongly believed that Avatar was the front-runner) and answer this question: what do you think of the decision to bring back “And the winner is…” when announcing the recipient of the award?

As the article explains, in 1989 producer Allan Carr, not content with producing one of the most-hated awards shows of all time, decided to change “and the winner is…” to the more neutral “and the Oscar goes to…” This was the golden age of kinder, gentler language, and the idea behind the change was that calling someone a “winner” implies that everyone else is a “loser.” This is, in fact, true, but that’s not the point.

The producers this year decided to bring back “and the winner is…” precisely because it is a little nastier and more blunt than “goes to.” They told Steve Pond that for those in the know, bringing it back feels “naughty” and “rude.”

Now, I remember hating the change at the time, and ever since then, I have felt it sounded wrong to use the bland “and the Oscar goes to.” The important thing is not that they got an Oscar, it’s that they won and four or more other people lost. So I’m happy to have “and the winner is” back. It’s one of the few really good decisions these producers seem to have made.

However, people who started watching the Oscars any time since 1989 are probably just as used to “and the Oscar goes to” as I was to “and the winner is.” When Kate Winslet slipped up and said “and the Oscar goes to Jeff Bridges,” some Twitter reactions lauded her for using the “traditional” phrase “and the Oscar goes to.” And I suppose that since it’s been around for 22 years, it is traditional now.

So what do you think? “Winner” or “goes to?”

And after you think about that one, here is something to play us out after that disappointing show: the wise and temperate observations (with dialogue by Harlan Ellison) of Frankie Fane and company.

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And the Winner Was…

  1. I'm of an older vintage than yourself but while I grumbled too at the original shift to 'the oscar goes to', it seems to have become a unique tag to the whole ceremony. Everyone knew that there was a winner and four losers; this was the Academy's own touch of painting it high brow and celebrating the camaraderie of the industry, while letting the quick cut camera guys trying to catch a lens-worth of loser reactions just to bring it home…

  2. I'm a goes-to man, it's a little less grade school.

  3. Ellison was on a panel with the guys who run the Penny Arcade comic, and he was "being Harlan". In response, one of the PA guys said "I really liked those Star Wars books you wrote". :)

  4. Harlan Ellison has always been fiercely protective of the dialogue he writes. Fights tooth and nail against changes. Is that so nobody else will be blamed for crap like the dialogue in that Youtube video? Selfless of him.

    • You're absolutely right that Harlan Ellison, one of the SF enfants terrible of the sixties and seventies, wrote crappy dialogue. He's also a misogynist, as demonstrated by the classic short story "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream".

  5. Why don’t they do something REALLY naughty and potentially rude and let each presenter improvise the award announcement without the implied you’ll-never-eat-lunch-in-this-town-again sanction. By the time the program is two hours in, it’s hard to keep track of what award is being given and what category the award they are presenting is for (especially after the obligatory film clips). I would love to hear Jeff Bridges say this time next year, “The little gold dude for really cool actress goes to…”

  6. The Oscar goes to — is the most appropriate. All nominies were winners but the Academy ( we don't know the vote count) deemed Hurt Locker should get the top prize, in my opinion An Education should have received the Oscar, it was a better movie. The implication that the other nominies were losers is simply unjust

  7. "Goes to" is actually the grade school choice where even in sporting events, kids are given medals for participating out of the totally made up notion that their self esteem would be harmed by being exposed to winners. Presumably, teachers who didn't win anything themselves as kids and took it badly extrapolated their own trauma to everyone. There is absolutely no evidence for the notion that competition hurts participants who don't win. Yet the entire zeitgeist was changed on the whim of liberals consulting their own hurt feelings.

    What's hilarious is the notion that movie stars overcompensated by millions for mouthing dialog and having clambered over who knows how many bodies to fight their way to the top of shark infested Hollywood are such fragile souls that they must be protected from the big bad word "winner" like 5 year olds.