Oscars 2024: Do movies today go beyond the “too long” limit, as Hugh Grant suggests?

“Oompa-loompa, doompity-dee, director category-ee of the best presently. A boompa The majority of these movies were, quite simply, far too long. After starring in Wonka, Hugh Grant made a life-size onstage cameo at the Baftas, where he openly questioned the length of this year’s awards season candidates and channeled his inner Oompa Loompa when presenting the best director award. He might have been considering Oppenheimer, the three-hour epic directed by Christopher Nolan that ended up winning the evening and is predicted to win a slew of Oscars this weekend. However, The Holdovers, Maestro, and Anatomy of a Fall—three more of the five Bafta nominees and Oscar contenders—all run longer than two hours.


It’s probably a good thing that Grant was spared from facing Martin Scorsese’s American contemplative film Killers of the Flower Moon, which is an Academy Award favorite despite having the longest runtime of any best picture contender this year at 3 hours and 26 minutes. But are the nominated movies for this year a part of a (widening) trend? If so, what does this signify for viewers, movie theaters, and filmmakers? For many years, a rainy afternoon trip to the movies has been a dependable attraction for families, couples, and single individuals; yet, over this time, the length of films has changed. The idea that movie screenings should be an all-day affair originated in the 1960s, when filmmakers celebrated the silver screen’s heyday.


In 1962, Lawrence of Arabia lasted longer than three and a half hours. Released a year later, Cleopatra was initially intended to last four years before being chopped down. This experience revolved around the intermissions, where projectionists projected images onto actual reels, providing audiences with a spontaneous pause for bathroom breaks and ice cream purchases. However, as projector technology advanced, this movie-going ritual was phased away by the early 1980s; Gandhi, released in 1982, is believed to be the last significant western film to contain an intermission as normal. Over the years, the duration of films has consistently grown, essentially keeping viewers seated.



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