Oscar nominees including Barry Jenkins and Regina King digest the major Oscars event before The Big Show. (Feb. 5)
With just 10 days to go before the 2019 Academy Awards, a list of stars – many of them past Oscar winners – have added their support to Wednesday’s open letter urging the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to reinstate the four awards it plans to cut from the broadcast in order to save time, a move the stars deem an “insult.”
Actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Emma Stone, Sandra Bullock and directors Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino are among those adding their support to the letter, which has been updated on the website for the American Society of Cinematographers, one of the fields cut from this year’s live broadcast.
The other awards being shifted to commercial breaks this year are those for film-editing, live-action shorts and makeup and hairstyling.
“Relegating these essential cinematic crafts to lesser status in this 91st Academy Awards ceremony is nothing less than an insult to those of us who have devoted our lives and passions to our chosen profession,” says the open letter, which has been since picked up by The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.
“When the recognition of those responsible for the creation of outstanding cinema is being diminished by the very institution whose purpose it is to protect it, then we are no longer upholding the spirit of the Academy’s promise to celebrate film as a collaborative art form.”
In its reply, published by Variety Wednesday, the Academy sought to clarify its plan, noting there had been a “chain of misinformation” circulated by “inaccurate reporting and social media posts.”
It read, “As the Academy’s officers, we’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others.”
The letter, signed by president John Bailey, who comes from one of the affected categories, assured members that the winners of those four categories would be included in the broadcast but not shown live, nor would they be seen walking to the stage. The speeches will instead be live-streamed on Oscar.com and the film academy’s social accounts. It’s an approach used by Emmy producers to include awards given in an earlier ceremony for technical categories.
The Academy noted that in future years, four to six rotating categories could be cut from the live broadcast in this fashion. Cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action short will be exempt in 2020. (The Grammys have also been known to rotate awards between the pre-televised and live ceremony.)
Earlier this week, Russell Crowe, who won a best-actor Oscar in 2001 for “Gladiator,”expressed his frustration over the omission in a tweet.
“The Academy is removing cinematography, editing and make up from the televised show? This is just such a fundamentally stupid decision,” he wrote Tuesday. “I’m not even going to be bothered trying to be a smart arse about it. It’s just too (expletive) dumb for words.”
In a follow-up tweet Wednesday, he added: “It has been a message delivered very badly and received by cinephiles all over the world the same way. These categories will be in the televised event, but, will not be “live”… spurious reasoning, curious decision.”
Alfonso Cuaron, who is nominated for cinematography, original screenplay and directing the film “Roma,” emphasized that “no one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”
Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro couldn’t help but agree. He won Oscars for best director and picture for “The Shape of Water” in 2018.
“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,” he tweeted.
Actor Seth Rogen tweeted, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s job it is to literally film things.” Fellow actor Josh Gad agreed, replying: “Not quite sure why the Academy Awards seems to hate the Academy Awards this year.”
“Vice” director Adam McKay said earlier that he was “bummed” by the idea. He had heard whispers that makeup and hairstyling was going to be one of the unlucky categories, which he considered a particular blow for the people who worked so hard to transform Christian Bale into Dick Cheney for his film.
“That crew worked so hard,” McKay said. “Vice” is also up for an editing award, which will be presented off air as well.
Last week at the Nominees Luncheon, “Bohemian Rhapsody” editor John Ottman called the change insulting. His ended up being in one of the cut categories as well.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” sound mixer Paul Massey just worried that he wouldn’t know what to tell friends and family who wanted to watch the show to possibly see him win. Although he offered one suggestion to ensure a swift show: Seat the below-the-line nominees closer to the stage. For some, it’s a long walk up to the podium and show producers have promised that everyone gets only 90 seconds from the time their name is called to get up and say your thanks before the orchestra starts playing.
The plan to hand out certain awards during commercials to achieve a three-hour runtime was announced in August but protest began to mount in the run-up to the Feb. 24 ceremony.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2019/02/11/oscars-2019-these-four-awards-given-off-air-year/2842936002/