The Oscars this year are going to be an unmitigated sh*t-show. We all know it. It’s been on the cards since the Best Popular Film fiasco, followed by host drama, and it’s only gotten worse since then. Somehow, the Academy keep making it even worse! I’m almost impressed. For those of you ignoring this stuff — well done, you — the Academy announced that, in order to keep the show’s length at three hours, four categories would receive their awards during commercial breaks, which would then be edited down and included later in the broadcast. The categories chosen for this were Cinematography, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short. According to the Academy, the respective branches of these areas volunteered to have their categories edited down for brevity.
As you can imagine, it didn’t go down well.
Reposting, revised: I would not presume to suggest what categories should occur during commercials on Oscars night, but, please: Cinematography & Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical or literary tradition: they are cinema itself.— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 13, 2019
In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.— Alfonso Cuaron (@alfonsocuaron) February 12, 2019
I know the idea is for ABC to get higher Oscar ratings with a shorter show, but I don't think dropping key categories such as cinematography, editing & makeup / hair will bring in many new viewers. Treat these artists with the respect they deserve & just have a long show, dammit.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) February 13, 2019
I believe they’ll try to do it respectfully, but even so, it’s second tiering these awards. And they will obviously be given less time and emphasis: that’s the stated reason to do this in the first place.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) February 14, 2019
In a letter sent to their members, Academy President John Bailey, himself a cinematographer, explained the plans for the speeches:
While still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars, four categories—Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling - will be presented during commercial breaks, with their winning speeches aired later in the broadcast.
And, with the help of our partners at ABC, we also will stream these four award presentations online for our global fans to enjoy, live, along with our audience. Fans will be able to watch on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social channels. The live stream is a first for our show, and will help further awareness and promotion of these award categories.
The show’s producers, Glenn Weiss and Donna Gigliotti, also explained that the winners would have 90 seconds from the moment their name is called to reach the stage and complete their speech. So, if you’re in the back row and wearing heels, you’d better practice your sprinting now. Sorry if you’ve got mobility issues. I’m going to make a wild guess and assume the big name actors winning awards that night won’t be forced to stop their speeches after 90 seconds.
In his letter ‘clarifying’ the controversial changes, Bailey said, ‘as the result of inaccurate reporting and social media posts, there has been a chain of misinformation that has understandably upset many Academy members.’ Said information is coming from the Academy, remember. However, he still wished to explain that, no, there won’t be any awards cut from broadcast and that the four winning speeches given in the breaks will be included in the broadcast. If you’re a viewer of the BAFTAs, you’ll know how that format works and how endlessly patronizing it is to see tech winners get edited down to one line as part of an end-of-show montage.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: These changes are pointless and trying to ‘fix’ something that isn’t broken. Yes, Oscars viewership is down but so is every major live T.V. event, including the Super-Bowl. This is one night a year and the people who the Academy and ABC are trying to pander to do not care about the show, so why go out of your way to exclude the demographic who loyally tune in year after year?
Also worth noting that, in the four categories that have been shoved to ad-break status, none of the nominees are Disney films. Just saying.
The Oscars will take place on February 24th. At least we think they will. Honestly, who knows at this point?
Header Image Source: The Academy // YouTube