The 2023 Academy Awards telecast will feature all 23 categories during the live television broadcast, an Academy spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
This comes after this year’s show, which attracted no small amounts of controversy, disapproval and handwringing over the decision to cut eight Oscar categories – original score, makeup and hairstyling, documentary short, film editing, production design, animated short, live action short and sound – from the ABC-aired live telecast.
The show still ran 220 minutes.
Jimmy Kimmel, who has hosted an ABC late-night show since 2003, will be the master of ceremonies at next year’s show, making him a three-time Oscar host and becoming among nine people (among them David Niven, Jerry Lewis and Steve Martin) who have done the deed at least three times. One more ties him with Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon, while another after that puts him alongside Johnny Carson. Kimmel has some work to do before he approaches Billy Crystal (nine times between 1990 and 2012) 19-timer Bob Hope.
The move to restore the excluded categories will almost certainly be greeted with approval within the industry and among those who watch the Academy telecast because they actually like movies and/or like the awards portions of the telecast at least as much as they watch for the fashion, the jokes and the live musical numbers.
This year’s show earned miserable reviews for its editing of the aforementioned categories as well as humor that seemed to mock the nominated movies for not being four-quadrant franchise-friendly blockbusters and ridicule who might actually watch them. That was before even before Will Smith walked up to the stage and slapped Chris Rock over a punch line — 30 minutes before Smith won his first Oscar — as widely predicted — for his star turn in “King Richard.”
Ironically, in an awards season beset by discourse over the lack of populist tentpole films in contention for major categories (which too often boiled down to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” not being nominated for Best Picture), four of those awards, for original score, editing, production design and sound, were among the six won by the $400 million-grossing “Dune.” Meanwhile while one of the technical awards aired live on the ABC-owned channel, for costume design, was –as expected — won by Walt Disney’s “Cruella.”
Nonetheless, there stands a good chance that this year’s major contenders, at least for Best Picture, will include such popular and buzzy mainstream titles as “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Everything, Everywhere All At Once,” “Elvis” and (sight-unseen) “Avatar: The Way of Water” alongside more stereotypical (and usually less commercial, quality notwithstanding) awards season releases.
Whether that moves the needle in terms of ratings remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt.
The show’s declining audience, from 40 million in 2014 to 17 million in 2022, is as much about waning interest in what used to be mainstream studio fare like “West Side Story” or “King Richard” as it is about highlights on social media and a plethora of TV options. Of course, attempts to appeal to the uninterested risk backfiring and turning off those who still care and still watch.