Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, and others criticize the decision to present four Oscars during commercial breaks this year. It's no secret that the annual Academy Awards telecast has been hit by declining ratings lately. In an effort to bounce back, the Academy looked to incorporate wholesale changes and revamp the festivities for 2019. Unfortunately for them, just about every move they've made has backfired in spectacular fashion. Case in point, there won't be a Best Popular Film category this year and the Oscars will be host-less for the first time in three decades after the Kevin Hart debacle.
When the idea of Best Popular Film was first announced last summer, it was coupled with the revelation that a handful of categories would be presented during commercial breaks, with the winners' speeches being shown during the show. Earlier this week, it was revealed those categories would be Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, and Best Live Action Short. The idea behind this is to save time, but once again, the Academy has drawn the ire of its target audience.
Related: Every Oscars 2019 Mistake (So Far)
After the Academy's announcement, a number of high-profile figures in the film industry, including Oscar-winners del Toro and Cuarón (who is a Best Cinematography nominee this year for his work in Roma), voiced their displeasure. Many argued that cinematography and editing are integral components to the art of filmmaking and deserve to be seen live with the other categories. IndieWire collected a few social media posts criticizing turn of events. Check some out in the space below:
In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.— Alfonso Cuaron (@alfonsocuaron) February 12, 2019
TV show whose sole purpose is to package for public consumption the celebration of cinema craft announces that celebration of cinema craft is too boring for public consumption.https://t.co/QxXYBQzMJ4 via @thr— Steve Yedlin (@steveyedlin) February 11, 2019
“So excited to watch the Oscars this year because it’s a few minutes shorter!” - millennial who still wont watch the Oscars https://t.co/Ma4p4bbx7l— Beck/Woods (@beckandwoods) February 11, 2019
I know the idea is for ABC to get higher Oscar ratings with a shorter show, but I don't think dropping key categories such as cinematography, editing & makeup / hair will bring in many new viewers. Treat these artists with the respect they deserve & just have a long show, dammit.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) February 13, 2019
This comes off as the Academy's woefully misguided attempt to chase an audience that was never there to begin with. The odds of more people tuning in because they don't have to watch the Best Cinematography presentation live are incredibly low. Cutting the Oscar recipient's walk from their seat to the stage isn't going to trim a whole lot of time. All this move has done is anger the Oscars' main demographic - film buffs. Cinephiles enjoy tuning into the Oscars not just to see what wins Best Picture, but also to celebrate the crafts and acknowledge the hard work done by crew members. To relegate some of those awards to commercial breaks is insulting and pointless. It's change for the sake of change. People who want to watch the Oscars will watch the broadcast no matter how long it goes. The Academy hitting a self-imposed 3-hour time limit probably won't move the needle one way or another.
Looking over the laundry list of the Academy's mistakes for the 2019 show, they've backtracked on every other ill-conceived notion they had (all the Best Original Song nominees will be performed, instead of two as originally rumored). So it wouldn't be unreasonable to hope they'll have a change of heart here given the extremely negative backlash. Unfortunately, the Academy seems hellbent on mixing things up this year, so the commercial break presentations are likely to stay in place. Maybe they'll go back for the 2020 Oscars if this experiment doesn't go well.