×

Oscar Nominees Furious Over Exclusion From Telecast: ‘Another Slap in the Face’

The Oscars have stepped in it again.

On Tuesday, Hollywood filmmakers and leading craftspeople roundly condemned a decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to hand out four awards during commercial breaks. The hope is that will trim the show’s run time and keep it to a relatively brisk three hours.

Nominees and their colleagues from the commercial-banished categories of cinematography, makeup and hairstyling, film editing, and live action shorts slammed the decision in interviews with Variety and via heated posts on social media. ABC, the network that airs the broadcast, said it would live-stream those categories online and air the speeches at a later point in the show. That did little to soothe bruised feelings.

“I find it depressing that they are doing this,” said cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, a nominee this year for “Never Look Away” from Sony Pictures Classics. “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.”

Deschanel is referencing the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards, held two weeks before the Oscars and typically hosted by a celebrity, which honors technical achievement in film. The main Oscars broadcast only shows a highlight reel from that night. Relegating a job as pivotal to filmmaking as that of the cinematographer to commercial breaks undermines the entire craft, argues Deschanel.

“Cinematography predates writing, directing, editing, music, and sound,” he said. “Movies started with a guy cranking a camera. A cinematographer!”

Deschanel has been nominated six times stretching back to 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” but has yet to win. If he were to finally hear his name called this year, the moment would be akin to longtime category bridesmaid Roger Deakins finally winning last year for “Blade Runner 2049.” Deakins received a standing ovation and his victory was seen by many as one of the highlights of last year’s telecast.

This blowback isn’t the only firestorm that the Academy has faced during an Oscar season riddled with missteps, controversies, and self-inflicted wounds. It’s a litany of disasters that ranges from aborted plans to introduce a popular film category, an abandoned move to prevent some best song nominees from performing during the telecast, and a misbegotten decision to tap Kevin Hart to host the broadcast. Hart later stepped down as emcee after his past homophobic statements and jokes resurfaced.

The decision to give short shrift to certain crafts categories appears to have been wildly unpopular with many prominent film industry figures. Alfonso Cuarón, himself a multiple-nominee for producing, directing, writing and cinematography for “Roma,” fired off a tweet criticizing the Academy’s decision.

“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,” wrote Cuarón.

The director’s frequent collaborator, three-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubezki, chimed in on Instagram that “cinematography and editing are probably the ‘elementary particles,’ the primordial composition of cinema. It’s an unfortunate decision.”

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro conceded he “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. They are not inherited from a theatrical tradition or a literary tradition. They are cinema itself.”

Drake Doremus, indie director behind the late Anton Yelchin’s “Like Crazy,” even called for a flat-out boycott, tweeting: “What a disgrace #boycottoscars.”

In a memo outlining the changes, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey said representatives from categories that were shunted off to the commercial breaks volunteered to have their award presented off-camera. However, the board members who represent those crafts don’t speak for the unions or guild membership.

The show’s director, Glenn Weiss, will determine what emotionally resonant moments from the four speeches make it to air later in the broadcast, an individual close to the production told Variety. The show will cut any comment from presenters, as well as any recitation of the nominees, said the insider. While Bailey said the speeches will air in their entirety, that may not be the case on the big night as broadcasters reserve the right to cut them, the source said.

“This decision could be perceived as a separation and division of this creative process, thus minimizing our fundamental creative contributions,” said Kees van Oostrum, president of American Society of Cinematographers, in a Tuesday statement. The American Cinema Editors organization and the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment on the matter.

The Academy also did not respond to a request for comment.

“Being nominated and going to the Academy Awards is so special and it happens so rarely,” Lee Smith, last year’s film editing winner for “Dunkirk” and a three-time nominee overall, told Variety. “To find out so close to the actual awards that you’ll be in the commercial break, it’s disappointing.”

Smith also noted that the commercial breaks are generally the time when many in the Dolby Theatre audience go to the restroom, stretch their legs and generally relax and talk amongst themselves, which could be taxing on the Academy’s plans to live-stream these moments online.

“I just don’t think it’s good for the nominees,” Smith said. “And the people who need to volunteer are the nominees. Other than that, someone has volunteered for them, and I doubt they share that altruistic view.”

“It’s a bad plan,” Smith continued. “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.”

Rachael Stanley, the executive director of the Costume Designers Guild, lamented the loss of attention for her guild’s industry siblings.

“I think it is unfortunate that the Oscar ceremony has chosen to relegate four of the ‘craft’ winners to commercial breaks. It diminishes the work of these worthy nominees and winners,” she said. “It’s another slap in the face to the craft.”

— Dave McNary contributed to this report. 

More Film

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan's Hitman Drama 'Silver Bear' Gets Director

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan’s “The Silver Bear” finds a director, biopic “Running for My Life” is in the works, Fox is using new trailer compliance software and the 14-hour “La Flor” gets distribution. DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT Gerard McMurray, director of “The First Purge,” will write and direct Michael B. Jordan’s thriller “The [...]

  • Kevin Costner Diane Lane

    Kevin Costner, Diane Lane to Reunite in Suspense Thriller 'Let Him Go'

    Focus Features has tapped Kevin Costner and Diane Lane to star as a husband and wife in the suspense thriller “Let Him Go.” The two also collaborated on “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Thomas Bezucha (“The Family Stone”) is set to direct his own screenplay, based on Larry Watson’s novel [...]

  • Chris Hemsworth Hulk Hogan

    Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic for Netflix

    Netflix is in the early stages of developing a Hulk Hogan biopic with Chris Hemsworth attached to star as the wrestling legend and produce. Netflix has obtained the exclusive life rights and consulting services from Terry Gene Bollea AKA Hulk Hogan. Todd Phillips, whose credits include “War Dogs” and “The Hangover” trilogy, is attached to [...]

  • Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant

    Rooftop Films Announces Filmmakers Fund Grant Winners

    Swedish documentary filmmaker Anastasia Kirillova and “Negative Space” co-directors Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter are among the filmmakers who will receive grants from Rooftop Films to help complete their upcoming projects. Kirilova will be awarded $20,000 to finish her film, “In the Shadows of Love,” while collaborators Kuwahata and Porter will receive $10,000 for “Dandelion [...]

  • Jim Gianopulos

    Paramount Chief Jim Gianopulos Unveils Diversity Initiative

    Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos has announced that all studio productions will be required to complete a plan to enhance diversity. Wednesday’s reveal follows Paramount’s commitment to participating in Time’s Up and Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 4% Challenge. The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies [...]

  • Leave No Trace

    Oscar Analysts Are Sincere -- but Often Totally Wrong

    With Oscars arriving Feb. 24, we can expect multiple “who will win/who should win” columns. There will also be a flurry of post-show analyses about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and why members voted the way they did. Since AMPAS never releases polls or voting tallies, these pundits will never be contradicted [...]

  • Green Book spiderman into the spider

    On Eve of Oscars, Variety’s Film Experts Answer Three Pressing Questions

    We continue to live in a divided world, with the current political landscape in the United States a seemingly endless hotbed of tumult and acrimony. Issues of racism, bigotry, diversity and gender equality drive the creative players as well, with Oscar-nominated films parlaying said themes into compelling, thought-provoking cinema. To analyze 2018 in big-screen entertainment, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content