The Motion Picture Editors Guild denounced Tuesday’s move by the Film Academy that puts the Best Film Editing category among eight that will go into a prerecorded and edited part of this year’s Oscars telecast.
“We understand the Academy’s desire to make a more arresting show, but this move renders the ‘invisible art’ of editing even less visible,” MPEG president Alan Heim said Wednesday in a statement. “The Oscars should be a night to celebrate all of the labor and artistry that combine to bring stories to life on the screen, and we think deserving craftspeople have more than earned their time in the spotlight.”
This year’s Oscars will present the awards for film editing, original score, production design, sound design, makeup & hairstyling, and the three short film categories in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood one hour before the live ceremony begins and will be “folded seamlessly” into the live show, according to the Academy.
“When deciding how to produce the Oscars, we recognize it’s a live event television show and we must prioritize the television audience to increase viewer engagement and keep the show vital, kinetic, and relevant,” read a letter from Academy President David Rubin to members. “This has been an important focus of discussion for quite some time. We do this while also remembering the importance of having our nominees relish a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
But the move has been met with backlash from several of the affected Academy branches and their respective guilds, as had been the case back in 2018 when a similar plan to present some awards during commercial breaks and then show abridged versions of the acceptance speeches. Along with the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the leaders of American Cinema Editors and Motion Picture Sound Editors have also spoken against the changes.
The Oscars telecast this year is being produced by Will Packer and aims to use the airtime saved by the category move to add more music and comedy segments to the three-hour awards show, which will be hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes on March 27. The Academy and ABC are hoping for a ratings rebound after last year’s ceremony, held in Union Station amidst the ongoing pandemic, was the least watched in Oscars history.