This year’s awards season has been kind of terrible. There’s not one movie where I’m like “I’ll die if it doesn’t win all the Oscars,” which is how I felt about Moonlight and 12 Years a Slave. While there has been some excitement, and I don’t think every race is locked in, overall the actual awards shows have been ghastly. The Globes were tedious and unfunny. The SAGs were terrible. The Critics Choice show was complete trash. And the Oscars will likely be an utter trainwreck. For months now, it’s like no idea is too stupid for Oscar producers to be like “hey let’s try that!” They weren’t going to allow every Best Song nominee to perform, and then they backed down and now every nominee will perform their song… but only for 90 seconds each. And here’s the latest: the Oscars won’t even show four biggish categories live. They’ll hand out the awards during the commercial breaks:
In a break with tradition, the Academy Awards in four categories will be presented during commercial breaks when the 91st Oscars are broadcast by ABC on Feb. 24. The affected categories are cinematography, film editing, live-action short and makeup and hairstyling.
While the Academy’s board of governors approved a plan in August to present some of the 24 awards categories during breaks in order to reduce the show’s running time to three hours, it had not been known which categories would be presented under the new format, which attracted criticism complaining that it would mean a downgrade for some categories.
In an email to the group’s membership on Monday, Academy president John Bailey laid out the plan for this year’s show. He emphasized that the Academy is “still honoring the achievements of all 24 awards on the Oscars.” In the case of the four categories that will be announced during commercial breaks, the winners’ speeches will air later in the broadcast, he said.
Additionally, Bailey explained, “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.”
Bailey, who in addition to being president sits on the board of governors as a representative of the cinematographers branch, said the executive committees of six of the Academy’s 17 branches volunteered to have their respective awards presented under the new system, and that the Academy selected four of them. In future years, he said, four to six different categories may be selected on a rotating basis, in collaboration with the show producers. The four categories that are getting the abbreviated treatment this year will be guaranteed a regular spot on the 2020 broadcast.
There are industry people protesting this as we speak, even some of the nominees. Oscar purists are yelling about how too much is changing and of course the winners of these categories deserve their moments too. Which I completely understand, although let me contrarian for a moment. If the Oscars are “trying” to move with the times and create a product which isn’t so f–king long, then f–k it, let’s try this and see how it works. I honor the winners of Best Makeup and Best Cinematography too, and I applaud their good work. But I also don’t really need to hear their winner’s speeches, you know? Honestly, the Oscars could totally be streamlined into a really great two-hour show with all of the Best Song nominees being given time to perform their songs in total AND there would still be time to pass out the 12 biggest awards. Maybe just create a Schmoscars event where the “lesser” Oscars are given out. Or just do it at the Scientific Oscars, which are already a thing (a thing that isn’t televised). If you’re going to create a hierarchy of which Oscar categories are important enough to go live on air, then just go all in and really do it and create that perfect two-hour show.
All that being said, let’s be real: Oscar producers are going to ghettoize certain categories so they have more time for endless montages and random, stupid patter and “bits” which suck up too much time. If anything, I believe all of the chaos and disorganization will mean that this year’s Oscars telecast will be even longer than last year’s.
Photos courtesy of WENN.