Instead of presenting all 24 Academy Awards during the Oscar broadcast this month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to only present 20: The statues for cinematography, film editing, live-action short, and makeup and hairstyling will be handed out during commercial breaks (and broadcast online), and will be edited into the full broadcast later in the show. This isn’t sitting well with some people in Hollywood, including Best Director and Best Cinematography winner Alfonso Cuarón, who tweeted a passionate defense of the cinematography Oscar being handed out as part of the normal show. “In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors and without music,” he wrote. “No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography and without editing.” Cuarón had time today!
In a since-deleted tweet, last year’s Best Director winner Guillermo del Toro posted a few words about the decision, too: “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,” he wrote. “They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition: they are cinema itself.”
Russell Crowe, not nominated for anything this year, chimed in as well. “The Academy is removing cinematography, editing and make up from the televised show? This is just such a fundamentally stupid decision, I’m not even going to be bothered trying to be a smart arse about it,” the actor, who won an Oscar for Gladiator, said. “It’s just too fucking dumb for words.”
Help us Jordan Horowitz — you’re our only hope!
Update, 6 p.m.: More nominees have weighed in on the Academy’s decision. “I find it depressing that they are doing this. Hopefully it won’t be like the part of the show where they play clips from the Sci-Tech awards dinner. That always feels a bit sad, like they didn’t get invited to the real party. Cinematography predates writing, directing, editing, music, and sound,” cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, nominated this year for Never Look Away, told Variety. “Movies started with a guy cranking a camera. A cinematographer!”
Emmanuel Lubezki, who has won cinematography Oscars for his work on The Revenant, Birdman, and Gravity, expressed his disappointment in the Academy’s decision on Instagram. “Cinematography and editing are probably the ‘elementary particles,’ the primordial components of cinema. It’s an unfortunate decision,” he wrote.
Lee Smith, winner of last year’s film editing Oscar for his work on Dunkirk expressed a similar dissatisfaction to Variety. “Being nominated and going to the Academy Awards is so special and it happens so rarely,” he said. “To find out so close to the actual awards that you’ll be in the commercial break, it’s disappointing.” Smith suggested tweaking the length of the show through a good edit: “It’s a bad plan,” he said. “It would be great to reverse course on it. Find the time some other way. Change the format slightly. I’m an editor, so I can think of a million ways to shorten things.”
In a letter to members, the president of the American Society of Cinematographers called the Academy’s decision to hand out the cinematography award during commercial break “unfortunate.” “After receiving many comments on this matter from ASC members, I think I speak for many of them in declaring this a most unfortunate decision,” Kees van Oostrum wrote. “We consider filmmaking to be a collaborative effort where the responsibilities of the director, cinematographer, editor and other crafts often intersect. This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions.” For better or for worse, the Oscars will be held February 24.
Update, 2/13, 10:02pm: Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan have joined the growing number of public figures to express outrage at the decision. On Twitter, Rogen wrote, “What better way to celebrate achievements in film than to not publicly honor the people’s who’s job it is to literally film things.” Jonah Hill shared a screenshot of the tweet on Instagram with the added caption “Perfectly said @sethrogen”