In the months leading to the 91st Academy Awards, the show has certainly had its share of controversial discourse, as the producers have attempted to make some changes after last year’s viewership all-time low. The Academy’s latest decision was to present four categories during the commercial breaks, leaving them out of the initial telecast.
The categories being moved from the live broadcast this year are Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup And Hairstyling and Live-Action Short. This decision has outraged members of the filmmaking community, namely from American Society of Cinematographers President Kees Van Oostrum, who notified his almost 400 members with these words, in part:
We consider filmmaking to be a collaborative effort where the responsibilities of the director, cinematographer, editor and other crafts often intersect. This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions… we cannot quietly condone this decision without protest.
Since Academy president John Bailey is a member of the ASC he also received the letter and responded by clarifying that the show is “still honoring” each of the categories and the categories cut from the broadcast will be rotated every year. The Academy is also still filming the acceptance speeches of the winners of these categories, but they will not be aired until later in the broadcast.
According the letter written by John Bailey to Academy Members (via The Hollywood Reporter), the cinematography branch of the Academy volunteered to be presented during commercial breaks, though it doesn’t seem to reflect the thoughts expressed in President Kees Van Oostrum’s letter. He did however express to THR his understanding that the Academy president is being pressured by the network to shorten the show and likely didn’t have a choice.
Roma director Alfonso Cuarón, who is also nominated in the Best Cinematography category for his work on the highly-acclaimed Netflix film recently took to Twitter to give his thoughts. Take a look:
He brings up a valid point, if the Oscars celebrate the art of filmmaking, cinematography and film editing is one of the most vital elements of putting together a film. The Academy’s decision sends an awkward message to some nominees, even if they feel it’s necessary to keep viewership up.
Some have pointed out that the four categories left out of the broadcast are the few technical categories that don’t include Disney films. Since the Oscars is televised on ABC, which is owned by Disney, it makes looks like the categories were emitted to meet Disney’s best interests should Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, Solo: A Star Wars Story or animated short Bao take home the golden trophy. Of course, this could simply be a coincidence.
Marvel Studios is hoping for a win out of Black Panther’s seven nominations or by Infinity War’s Visual Effects nomination and with those chances, it will nab one or two. To delay some of the most pivotal filmmaking awards to take all the glory during the broadcast certainly doesn’t seem fair.
The move is part of the Academy’s attempt to keep the show at three hours, following complaints about the length of the show. We’ll have to see (or not see?) come Oscars night on Sunday February 24.