Although James Cameron, Jane Campion and Guillermo Del Toro have spoken out against the Academy’s decision to preregister eight of the craft categories, their call to reconsider has fallen on deaf ears.
With less than two weeks to go until the 94th Academy Awards, artisans affected by the decision still feel like second-class citizens. The news was delivered to the nominees via a Zoom town hall that Oscar-nominated editor Hank Corwin (“Don’t Look Up”) missed. “I thought they were going to tell us to keep the speeches short,” Corwin says.
This was not the case.
The Academy announced on February 22 that several major categories would not be presented live in order to provide a simpler and more television-friendly experience. Documentary shorts, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original music, production design, animated shorts, live action shorts and sound are among the awards given to advance and mounted in the show. Outgoing CEO Dawn Hudson said the decision was made by the show’s producers, Academy executives and the awards committee.
The Academy’s decision comes in a bid to bolster ratings for the Oscars, which drew 10.4 million viewers last year. This year, Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer were tapped to host after three years without one.
The reformatted show is designed to allow more time for comedy, movie clips and musical numbers. This year’s producer, Will Packer, spoke with Variety earlier this month and said, “You have to consider this an entertainment property.”
Corwin replies, “I understand that the Academy is caught between a rock and a hard place. They need a lot of income to survive in their current incarnation. Corwin acknowledges that while their hearts are in the right place, the Academy’s mission is to support all films, equally, and they’re put in a stranglehold by ABC.
Said Corwin, “They got themselves into this terrible situation where you have executives from a network, I guess, going over last year’s Oscar ratings, which were apparently abysmal.”
Corwin hopes that somewhere along the line the show turns into something that isn’t linear television. He says the honor of being nominated is always a breathtaking moment, but points out that most of the trades affected are behind the scenes. “Hair and make-up cannot defend themselves. They do the best they can. They work like crazy and they are artists,” says Corwin. “And as usual in this world, artists get pushed around. That’s what happened.”