In a bid to keep the ceremony’s telecast under three hours, the Academy’s board of governors approved a plan back in August to present some of the 24 awards categories during breaks in order to reduce the show’s running time.
On Monday (February 11), the Academy announced the four categories to be cut from the live broadcast – Cinematography, Film Editing, Make-Up and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Academy president John Bailey promises, however, that the Academy is “still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars,” and that the winners’ speeches from the four categories will air later in the broadcast.
He also added that “with the help of our partners at ABC, we also will stream these four award presentations online for our global fans to enjoy, live, along with our audience. Fans will be able to watch on Oscar.com and on the Academy’s social channels. The live stream is a first for our show, and will help further awareness and promotion of these award categories.”
When it was first announced that not all of the awards will be presented live, concerns on whether it would mean a downgrade for the categories have already been raised. And this decision was met with criticism from Hollywood filmmakers and craftspeople alike.
“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, who’s up for five awards this year, including Best Cinematography, tweeted.
Another contender for Best Cinematography, Caleb Deschanel, found it ”depressing” and argued that relegating a job as pivotal to filmmaking as that of the cinematographer to commercial breaks undermines the entire craft.
“Cinematography predates writing, directing, editing, music, and sound,” he told Variety. “Movies started with a guy cranking a camera. A cinematographer!”
“What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s (sic) job it is to literally film things,” tweeted actor and director Seth Rogen.
Jennifer Tilly also weighed in on Twitter. “Cinematography and editing are two of the most crucial things that make or break a movie! Why ghetto-ize certain categories? Are we honoring achievement in film or just staring at celebrities? So disrespectful,” she wrote.
President of the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers), Kees van Oostrum, said in a statement on Tuesday (February 12): “This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions.”
Following the backlash, the Academy is speaking out about their controversial decision.
“We’d like to assure you that no award category at the 91st Oscars ceremony will be presented in a manner that depicts the achievements of its nominees and winners as less than any others,” a statement from the Academy read in part. “Unfortunately, as the result of inaccurate reporting and social media posts, there has been a chain of misinformation that has understandably upset many Academy members.”
The statement also notes that it was “discussed and agreed to by the Board of Governors in August, with the full support of the branch executive committees” and goes on to clarify the Academy’s decision.
“All 24 Award categories are presented on stage in the Dolby Theatre, and included in the broadcast,” the statement explains. “Four categories – Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short – were volunteered by their branches to have their nominees and winners announced by presenters, and included later in the broadcast. Time spent walking to the stage and off, will be edited out.”