Academy Sparks Outrage for Dumping 4 Oscar Categories to Commercial Breaks: ‘I Am So Pissed Off’

“Cinematography and editing are at the very heart of our craft,” wrote last year’s Best Picture and Best Director winner, Guillermo del Toro

Last Updated: February 12, 2019 @ 9:04 AM

The Academy’s decision to present four categories — cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action shorts — during commercial breaks on this year’s Oscar show has been greeted with widespread outrage, with the condemnation stretching from Oscar watchers to past Oscar winners Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki.

“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,” wrote del Toro, last year’s Best Director and Best Picture winner, on Twitter. “They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself.”

Cuarón, a multiple nominee this year for “Roma,” also weighed in. “In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music,” he tweeted. “No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.”

And Lubezki, the only cinematographer to win three consecutive Oscars, wrote on Instagram, “Cinematography and editing are probably the ‘elementary particles,’ the primordial components of cinema. It’s an unfortunate decision.”

But those responses were among the more measured comments on social media — or, for that matter, the comments from affected Academy members reached by TheWrap on Monday.

“It’s outrageous,” one nominee with several past nominations said a few hours after AMPAS President John Bailey revealed the affected categories in an email to members. “I am so pissed off.”

“It’s infuriating,” said another, who added with a grim chuckle, “My mother is going to be so upset.”

According to the email Bailey sent to members, the four categories will be presented during commercial breaks in the Oscar telecast, but live-streamed on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social media accounts. They will then be “slightly edited” and will appear later on during the telecast, which will save time by eliminating the winners’ walks to the stage.

On Twitter, the hashtag #PresentAll24 has been in use ever since the Academy announced last August that it would move some categories, then undisclosed, into the breaks. But when the affected categories were revealed on Monday, the conversation heated up, with the Academy drawing fire both for the decision to hand out any awards off the air and for the choice of categories, which it said will change every year.

“Bailey was inspired to become a cinematographer by Vittorio Storaro. His credits include ‘Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters’ and ‘Groundhog Day,’ and he writes a blog for the American Society of Cinematographers,” New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote on Twitter. “This decision is insulting and wrong.”

“This is a failure of stewardship, a failure of nerve, a failure of producing, a failure to understand television, a failure of network custody of the Oscars, and a failure of Academy governance,” author and journalist Mark Harris wrote.

In a subsequent tweet, Harris added, “This is about ABC using the falling ratings for ALL awards shows as a way to tell AMPAS ‘You’re doing it wrong’ with the goal of turning the show into an infomercial for commercial Hollywood product, including its own, and AMPAS being too naïve about TV to know it’s being played.”

While Bailey said that the categories were chosen from the six branches of the Academy whose executive committees volunteered to move into the breaks, Harris and others pointed out that the four affected categories do not include any nominees from “Black Panther” or any other movie by Disney, the parent company of Oscar broadcaster ABC.

And many of those who used the #PresentAll24 hashtag noted that the move was more likely to alienate fans of the show than attract new fans or substantially impact the ratings.

For example, Adam Benzine, the Oscar-nominated director of the short film “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah,” called it “a black day for the Academy,” and added, “The saddest thing about this colossal disrespect to the craft of filmmaking? Watch as cutting 3 minutes of live speeches from professionals who’ve dedicated their careers to the craft does NOTHING to stem the ratings decline.”

Read more tweets about the Academy’s move below: