The Academy, the governing body behind the Oscars, announced on Monday that four categories would be cut from its live broadcast of the show and handed out during the commercial breaks — a decision that several Hollywood filmmakers and writers disagree with.
At this year’s show, cinematography, film editing, live-action short, and makeup and hairstyling will be relegated to commercial breaks, according to The Hollywood Reporter, who first reported the news. The honors will instead be streamed live on Oscar.com, as well as the organization’s social media channels.
Two-time Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro weighed in on the conversation, saying on Twitter, “If I may: I would not presume to suggest what categories to cut during the Oscars show but – Cinematography and Editing are at the very heart of our craft.”
“They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself,” he said.
If I may: I would not presume to suggest what categories to cut during the Oscars show but – Cinematography and Editing are at the very heart of our craft. They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself.
The Oscars are known for running long and the Academy has been attempting to shake things up in light of declining viewership in recent years.
2018’s annual broadcast experienced the smallest-ever audience viewing, with 26.5 million viewers. The year before that, the show brought in 32.9 million viewers.
But in its attempt to keep up with the times, some have wondered if the show is losing sight of its intended purpose: to honor the achievements and hard work of people who work in film, both in front of and behind the camera.
Richard Brody, a writer for the New Yorker since 1999 and filmmaker with a sole directing and editing credit to his name on IMDB, had some thoughts about the Academy’s upcoming category changes.
Brody said that the team behind the Oscars “doesn’t care if critics and cinephiles are up in arms about the ceremony.”
“I think they’re in a state of blind flailing panic over whether anyone young and anyone noncoastal (the union of these sets, not the intersection) is watching,” he said.
The Academy doesn’t care if critics and cinephiles are up in arms about the ceremony; I think they’re in a state of blind flailing panic over whether anyone young and anyone noncoastal (the union of these sets, not the intersection) is watching,
A chorus of other voices chimed in too, like television writer Chris Schleicher, who said the Oscars were the only awards show that televised wins in the craft categories.
“This decision is reprehensible,” said Schleicher. “Shame on the Academy. Shame on ABC. If you don’t love a 3+ hour Oscars, you don’t love the Oscars.”
Matthew D’Ambrosio, a television writer and script coordinator, said the decision to remove the four categories from the broadcast was “absurdly disrespectful and stupid.”
The pile-on continued, with the official Twitter account for the Tribeca Film Festival giving its two cents on the matter.
“This decision shows a galling disregard for the craftspeople and filmmakers whose work is just as integral to the success of a film as the stars above the title,” the the person manning the account said before urging the Academy to “do better.”
The product Hollywood peddles wouldn’t exist without cinematography, editing and hair & make-up. This is absurdly stupid and disrespectful. https://t.co/aRAB58rr2c
The Oscars are no stranger to controversy.
Just last year, the Academy walked back its decision to add a new Popular Film category, which some speculated would be an attempt to lock blockbuster films like Black Panther out of the Best Picture race.
Black Panther is currently a contender in the 2019 Best Picture race.
Last August, BuzzFeed News interviewed several Academy Award winners who had varying views on the Academy’s decision to move some of the honors — the highlight some people’s career — to the commercial break.
“I would be sad to see some colleagues losing that opportunity,” said Kristóf Deák, the winner of Best Live-Action Short in 2017 for the film Sing.
“Those young filmmakers receiving them deserve the spotlight.”
THR reported that the categories that got the shaft this year would be guaranteed a regular spot during the 2020 broadcast of the show.
In an email to Academy members, president John Bailey said viewing patterns for the show “are changing quickly in our current multi-media world, and our show must also evolve to successfully continue promoting motion pictures to a worldwide audience.”
“This has been our core mission since we were established 91 years ago — and it is the same today,” he said.
Representatives for the Academy did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.