If you’ve followed my blog for a decent amount of time, you know I’m a film buff through and through.
I don’t watch films just for the plot, or the actors, or the music. Those are contributing factors for sure, but I watch films to support all of the creators who take part in the process to produce what I see on screen. Sometimes, I’ve sat either in a theater or at home and watch as the credits roll, amazed by the sheer amount of people it took to create what I just watched.
On February 22, it was reported that officials at The Academy decided not to present eight craft categories – documentary short, film editing, makeup/hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live-action short, and sound – during the live broadcast of the 94th Oscars. Rather, present these categories in the hour prior to the main broadcast and edit in versions of the acceptance speeches later.
This has caused quite the controversy for The Academy. A controversy it so desperately doesn’t need amidst receiving record-low ratings in its previous Oscars broadcast. The move has also faced public criticism from many in the filmmaking industry, with the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Steven Spielberg speaking out against it. Additionally, Tom Fleischman and Peter Kurland have reportedly resigned as members of The Academy because of the move. Fleischman is an Oscar-winning recording mixer and Martin Scorsese collaborator and Kurland is a four-time Oscar nominated sound mixer best known for his collaborations with the Coen Brothers.
In what little response there has been from officials at The Academy and the Oscars broadcast itself, Oscars producer Will Packer provided a word salad without much substance on the matter. In a press conference on Thursday, Packer claimed that “…we want to make sure that everybody has their moment on this show, and is handled with the same reverence and elegance that you’ve come to expect with the Oscars. And so one of the misconceptions is that things are being taken off the show and that’s not the case. It’s not.”
To me, that is exactly what is occurring. Sure, edited portions of the unaired award presentations will supposedly appear on the main broadcast. However, will it be in the same form as on previous awards shows when the program announcer mentions unaired categories and winners being honored as the broadcast drifts off to commercial? I wouldn’t doubt it.
Viewing a film is an experience and all who played a role in creating that experience deserve the proper recognition for their tireless work. It’s too bad The Academy doesn’t see it the same way and has demoted these craft categories to an unaired side show. All the while simultaneously allowing unprecedented access to a group of social media influencers to annoy us the viewers and attendees as well.
I cannot bring myself to support The Oscars broadcast this year. I will, obviously, continue supporting the films and the creative teams behind them (expect to see reviews of the Best Picture nominees in the coming weeks) but I will not watch the awards broadcast for the first time since I developed a love for films. In other words, many years. For a governing body that supposedly prides itself on honoring the craft of filmmaking, it has made a clear decision to alienate members of its own community.