An Oscar Season in Chaos
Following significant backlash from filmmakers and fans alike, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it will broadcast all 24 Oscar categories live and unedited. This follows their earlier decision to present four awards during commercial break. The categories were Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Live Action Short, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Variety reports that criticism from well-known film industry professionals, and the unions that represent those who would be affected, were the main motivators for the Academy's reversal.
Guillermo del Toro, last year's winner for Best Director for his work on "The Shape of Water," urged the Academy to reconsider. "Cinematography and Editing are the very heart of our craft," he wrote on Twitter. "They are not inherited from a theatrical or literary tradition: they are cinema itself."
Fellow director Alfonso Cuarón, who previously won two Oscars for his work on "Gravity" and is nominated this year for "Roma," said on Twitter, "In the history of cinema, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors, without music. No single film has ever existed without cinematography and without editing."
Several Santa Monica College students also expressed their dismay at the possibility.
Film student, Adam Haro, said, "Editors, they make or break a film…Editing is super important. Cinematography is also super important…Those two, you can't live without."
This recent controversy is part of a larger pattern of missteps that Academy has taken this season.
In August of last year, the Academy announced its intention to introduce a Most Popular Film category, but backtracked and shelved the idea after receiving widespread criticism.
Earlier this year, it was announced that only two of the five nominees for Best Original Song would be allowed to perform, a decision which composer Lin Manuel-Miranda called "truly dissapointing." Following backlash, the Academy again reversed its decision, allowing all five nominated songs to be performed.
Alarm over declining viewership is to blame for the Academy's desire to revamp the Oscars. According to a report by Forbes, last year's awards drew 26.5 million viewers, down 19% from 2017, the lowest recorded rating for the Oscars.
Whether or not the recent controversies will hurt this year's ratings remains to be seen. What is clear is that neither filmmakers nor fans will tolerate eliminating categories.
The Oscars will be broadcast live in its entirety on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 5:00 PM PST.